Photoshop Filter Effects Encyclopedia
The Hands-on Desktop Reference for Digital Photographers
Book Review

Photoshop Filter Effects Encyclopedia
The Hands-on Desktop Reference for Digital Photographers
by Roger Pring

O’Reilly Press
ISBN: 0596100213
176 Pages
US $29.95 CAN $41.95

In October of 2005 O’Reilly announced the publication of a new series, The Photoshop Digital Cookbook Series. The first four titles target the photographer, are each 176 pages in length, are priced at $29.95, and provide a wealth of ‘How-To’s’ for manipulating photographs. These are oversized books measuring 9.25” X 10” and are bound in such a way that they easily fall open to any page and stay open without the assistance of paperweights and other stabilizing devices. So, placing one of the titles on my desk to follow instructions for the filter settings in Photoshop was easily accomplished and did no damage to the book. The front and back covers both have flaps for easy book marking and the image files used within are available for download at

Photoshop Filter Effects Encyclopedia is an impressive resource for getting the most out of Photoshop’s extensive collection of filters. The 109 built-in filters are presented, grouped into 13 categories, and include the new additions for CS2. Those filter categories are Artistic, Blur, Brush Stokes, Distort, Noise, Pixelate, Render, Sharpen, Sketch, Stylize, Texture and Other. An overview is presented for each group, with color examples for each filter in the group.

The individual filters are then explained, beginning with an overview of what the filter does and the basics of how it modifies an image. Next is ‘How it works’, which describes how to use or apply filter settings to achieve various effects and why you achieve those results. The ‘Using the . filter’ provides examples and suggestions for practical application in your work, giving filter dialog settings in combination with blend settings and tonal adjustments.

There are copious color illustrations of originals and the possible modifications as well as screen shots of the dialogs used for the fine-tuning. Keyboard shortcuts for Windows and Mac are included where applicable. The image files used in the book are available for download at

I love applying artistic effects to photos, so I’ll describe the details on the Watercolor filter page from the Artistic Group to give you an example from this volume. The brief introduction explains that the true effect of watercolor bleeding might best be achieved with the Smudge or Healing Brush tool. But, the slight darkening around the edges of each distinct patch of color produces an excellent gouache painting. In the ‘How it works’ section, the three dialog box sliders are explained and settings are suggested to achieve a ‘painterly result’. The ‘Using the Watercolor filter’ portion steps me through the process of transforming a photo.

The type of photo best suited to the application of this filter is discussed first. Then a test application of the filter is suggested, which comes out rather dark. Step 3 suggests a preferred approach, first stepping back to the original and then applying a 6-pixel Motion Blur. Next is applying the Diffuse filter several times, set to lighten only. Lastly, the Watercolor filter is applied with suggested settings for Brush Detail, Shadow Intensity and Texture. Following along, my results really did approximate a watercolor painting, as portrayed in the book!

In Summary:
This book is beautifully laid out and the steps for applying filters in combination with other Photoshop settings are easy to follow. I enjoyed using the directions straight off the pages for applying to my photos and then felt confident to start playing on my own with the slider adjustments and blend modes. Photoshop Filter Effects Encyclopedia gets a strong recommendation from me for anyone with Photoshop basics under their hat who feels ready to further explore their Photoshop potential. Rating: 4.5 out 5

Reprinted with the permission of the Tucson Computer Society <>. Originally published in the print Journal of the Tucson Computer Society, but not available online until this posting at


Leave a Reply