Experimenting with filters in Photoshop Elements 11 is something you can do on your own when you have an hour or so and some willing images lying around. Create a composite with multiple layers and apply some filters. Add some different opacity settings and Blend modes, and you have yourself a party.


Correct camera distortion.

If you’ve ever tried to capture a skyscraper or another imposing piece of architecture in the lens of your camera, you know that it often involves tilting your camera and putting your neck in an uncomfortable position. And then, after all that, what you end up with is a distorted view of what was an impressive building.

The Correct Camera Distortion filter fixes the distorted perspective created by both vertical and horizontal tilting of the camera. As a bonus, this filter also corrects other kinds of distortions caused by lens flaws.


Try the Facet filter.

The Facet filter breaks up an image by using a posterizing effect. It gathers blocks of pixels that are similar in brightness and converts them to a single value, using geometric shapes. (When you posterize an image, you reduce it to a very small number of tones.)

The geometric shapes make the image look more randomly produced while eliminating much of the banding effect you see with conventional posterizing filters.

The effects of the Facet filter are subtle and best viewed at close range. The image shown originally contained some dust and scratches and a few other defects. Rather than retouch them one by one, you can use Facet.

Facet is a single-step filter, so you don’t need to adjust any controls. Just choose Filter→Pixelate→Facet and evaluate your results. You can apply the filter multiple times. However, even one application smoothes out the picture and eliminates the worst of the artifacts.

If you apply the Facet filter multiple times, the image takes on a kind of pointillist, stroked look that becomes more and more obvious. Using the filter repeatedly on the same image can yield interesting special effects.


Create artistic effects with filters on the Artistic, Sketch, and Stylize submenus

Several filters produce great artistic effects. You can find a large collection of them on the Artistic, Sketch, and Stylize submenus.

Many users employ these filters to create images that look as though they were painted. What those users may not tell you, unless pressed, is that filters can make photos of less than the best quality look better. These filters can disguise a multitude of photographic sins, turning shoebox rejects into decent digital transformations.

Poster Edges: This filter gives the picture an artsy, poster-like look but also enhances the edges to make the outline of the object appear sharper

Rough Pastels: This filter gives the look of a fine-art piece created with oil pastels.

Dry Brush: This filter can add an even more stylistic effect, reducing details to a series of broad strokes.

Colored Pencil: This filter crosshatches the edges of an image to create a pencil-like effect.

Cutout: This effect assembles an image from what looks like cut-out paper shapes, which resemble a kid’s art project.

Film Grain: This photographic effect diffuses an image with thousands of tiny dots that simulate clumps of film grain. (If you’re old enough, think of old home movies.)

Fresco: This effect looks (supposedly) like pigments applied to fresh, wet plaster.

Paint Daubs: This effect uses smears of color from your choice of a half-dozen different brush types — very Jackson Pollock.

Plastic Wrap: This filter can produce a wet look, particularly when you apply it to a selection and then fade the filter so that it doesn’t overpower the detail in the image.

Watercolor: This nice pastel effect diffuses an image while adding an interesting, watery texture.


Experiment with the filters on the Brush Strokes submenu.

The filters on the Brush Strokes submenu try to mimic the appearance of art created with pen, brush, airbrush, ink, and paint.

Ink Outlines: Adobe describes this filter as producing the look of a corroded ink drawing.

Spatter: This filter generates the look you might see from a sputtering airbrush.

Accented Edges: Use this filter to make a subject jump out from its background by emphasizing the edges of all objects in the picture.

Sprayed Strokes: This filter creates a textured, painted brush stroke effect.


Distort images for fun.

With a couple exceptions, the Elements Distortion filters twist, turn, and bend images in surprising ways, turning ordinary objects into wavy images, pinched shapes, and bloated spheres.

The first exception? The Diffuse Glow filter distorts images only to the extent that it imbues them with a soft, romantic, fuzzy look that can make the sharpest image look positively ethereal.

The Glass filter can add a glass-block texture or a frosted-glasslike fuzziness to an image. Other filters on this submenu produce wavy images, add pond ripples, pinch images, or transform images into spheres.


Add texture with Noise filters.

Noise in images consists of any graininess or texture that occurs because of either the inherent quality of the image or the editing process. Noise filters, such as Add Noise, produce random texture and grain in an image. If you’re new to image editing, you might wonder why you’d want to add noise to an image in the first place.

Wouldn’t it be smarter to remove it? Well, sometimes. In practice, you can find a lot of applications that call for a little noise here and there.


Break your image into pieces with the Pixelate filters.

The Pixelate filters break up images into bits and pieces, providing more of the painterly effects you can create with brush strokes and artistic filters. The Pixelate submenu includes the Crystallize filter as well as filters that produce color halftone effects, fragmented images, and a pointillism effect.