Learn how to get the most out of Adobe Photoshop's Cutout filter.
- [Instructor] Here's how to use the cutout filter to create a simplified treatment, a nostalgic look, with a very limited color pallette. To start with, as always, I will convert my layer to a smart object. Select the layer, right click to the right of the layer name, and choose convert to smart object. Come to the filter menu, and artistic, choose cutout. If you want to reset the values to their default, hold down Command or Control, and the cancel button becomes default.
You see that when we apply the filter to the whole image, the result is not a good one. The blue of the sky is creeping into the foreground of the image, and we have more detail than we want. We really need to simplify the image. So, I'm going to click okay to this, but then I'm going to turn off that filter, and we'll come back when we're finished and we will compare our result, our customized result, with this default result.
So, in order to simplify the image, one of the things I want to do is make the sky its own selection, because that way, it's its own thing. We don't need to worry about including it in our very limited number of levels. I already have a channel prepared. I'll come to the channel's panel and Command + Click on alpha1 to load that as a selection.
Return to the layers panel, and then I'm going to copy that selection to a new layer by pressing Command or Control + J. So, I now have all of the building on a separate layer, and if I hide layer zero, we can see the transparency where formerly, there was sky. The next thing I want to do is add the sky back in as a solid color. I want the solid color to be suggested by the blue of the existing sky, so I'll come and choose my eyedropper tool, click on the sky to make that blue my foreground color.
Then, from the bottom of my layers panel, solid color, and I'll use that blue, I'll then move the color fill layer beneath layer one. The next step is to separate the image into highlights, shadows, and mid tones, so that we can apply the cutout filter at different strengths to those different tonal regions. With layer one selected, come to the select menu and choose color range.
Let's start out with highlights, and this is going to, unless I change the range, it's going to select from brightness level 190 to 255, and that's fine. If necessary, turn the fuzziness down to zero. Click okay. You will now have a selection of those brightness values. Command + J to copy that selection to a new layer, and name it.
Now, return to layer one and repeat that process for the midtones, and then for the shadows. So, for the midtones, and these values reflect the change that I put in earlier, you'll see that I'm increasing this number to the number that precedes the brightness values so that we cover all of the brightness values in the range. So, in this case, I'm going from 105 to 189, fuzziness of zero.
Command + J to copy that to a new layer, and we will call that midtones. Return to layer one, color range, shadows, and the brightness values started at 105, so I want, in this case, the range of the shadows to go up to 104, fuzziness again set to zero.
Command + J to copy that to a new layer. Now, we should be able to turn off layer one, and our image not appear any different. We have all the same information, there. The crucial difference is that the information is now separated onto three layers, and we can apply the filter at different strengths to each of those layers, so I will right click on them one by one and convert them to a smart object and then one by one, starting with the shadows, I'll come to the filter menu, artistic, cutout.
Now, for the shadows, I actually want to simplify things as much as possible. So, I'm going to reduce the number of levels and increase the edge simplicity, but it's really the number of levels that's having the most effect, here. I'll click okay. I'll now come to the midtones and apply the filter there. In this case, I'll start out with the default values. Command + click on default, and I think those are going to work fine.
I'll click okay. Come to the highlights, and I will increase the number of levels in the highlights. Just to finish the piece off, I'm going to select my highlights, midtones, and shadows. Press Command + G to put them into a group, and then I will add a levels adjustment layer above this group, and increase the contrast by dragging the black point and the white point towards the center.
So, this is the result I've been able to achieve with this technique of separating out the content onto three separate layers, highlights, midtones, and shadows, and now let's just compare that with the default result. If I hold down my Alt key and click on the eyeball of layer zero, we see, and I'll need to turn on the cutout layer, that's the default result, which is just a bit messy. Extraneous detail down here, we can't control how the image is simplified in this area, whereas, I'll Alt + Click again in the same position.
This is the result we've achieved by applying the filter separately to the highlights, the midtones, and the shadows.
- Blurring with filters
- The importance of Smart Filters
- Sharpening with filters
- Creative use of filter blend modes
- Painting in the effect of a filter using filter masks
- Combining filters