Filter Basics in Photoshop Elements 10 - dummies

By Barbara Obermeier, Ted Padova

Filters have been around since the early days of digital imaging, when Photoshop was just a little bitty program. Filters, also called plug-ins because they can be installed or removed independently, change the look of your image in a variety of ways.

They can correct less-than-perfect images by making them appear sharper or by covering up flaws. Or they can enhance your images by making them appear as though they’re painted, tiled, photocopied, or lit by spotlights. Just make sure to create a backup of your original image if you plan on saving your filtered one. The following sections give you the basics on how to apply a filter, as well as a few filtering tips.


Apply filters in Photoshop Elements 10

You can apply a filter in three ways:

  • In either Full Photo Edit or Quick Photo Edit mode. From the Filter menu, choose your desired filter category and then select a specific filter.

  • In Full Photo Edit mode only. Choose Window→Effects to open the panel. Click the Filters button at the top of the panel. Select your filter category from the drop-down menu to the right of the buttons. Double-click the thumbnail of your desired filter or drag the filter onto your image window.

  • In either Full Photo Edit or Quick Photo Edit mode. Choose Filter→Filter Gallery to apply one or more filters in a flexible editing environment.

When you’re using the Filter Gallery, make a backup copy of your image (or at least create a duplicate layer) before you apply filters. Filters change the pixels of an image permanently, and when you exit the Filter Gallery, the filters you apply can’t be removed.

You can’t apply filters to images that are in Bitmap or Index Color mode. And some filters don’t work on images in Grayscale mode.

Selectively apply filters in Photoshop Elements 10

You don’t necessarily have to apply filters to your entire image. You can apply filters to individual layers or even to selections. You can often get better effects when you apply a filter just to a portion of an image or layer.

For example, you can blur a distracting background so that the person in your image gets due attention. Or, as shown, you can apply an Ocean Ripple or Wave filter to the ocean, leaving your surfer unfiltered to avoid that overly Photoshopped effect.


Exercising a little restraint in applying filters usually produces a more attractive image.