How to Use Filters and Plug-Ins in CS5 - dummies

By Jennifer Smith, Christopher Smith, Fred Gerantabee

You can install plug-ins and filters in your Adobe Creative Suite programs. For example, a filter can enhance an existing photo in an exciting way. After you install into Photoshop or Illustrator a plug-in that includes a bunch of additional filters, check out what the filter can do to your photos.

Install some filters for Photoshop (or Illustrator or any other program in the suite). After you complete the installation and restart your computer, if necessary, open Photoshop and locate the Filter menu option. (New filters are available on this menu.)

To use a filter or plug-in after installing it, follow these steps:

  1. Open a file in the appropriate program so that you can try your new filter or plug-in.

    For example, if you downloaded a Photoshop plug-in that added a new filter, open an interesting photo that you want to apply an effect to in Photoshop. Choose a photo that has many colors or a lot of contrast to work with.

  2. Choose a filter from the Filter menu.

    Select a filter that you installed from the Filter menu. You may also find that a plug-in created a new menu item in the program — in that case, use the new menu item to apply the effect.

  3. Modify the filter’s (or plug-in’s) settings, if necessary, and click OK to apply the effect.

    Sometimes you see a thumbnail preview to assess how the filter changes the image. For some filters and plug-ins, you even use a custom interface to manipulate the document. You can then change the settings accordingly until you’re happy with the modifications to be applied.

  4. Look at the image or document after you choose and apply the filter or plug-in.

    Your image or file is updated immediately. If you’re unhappy with the results, you can either undo your changes by choosing Edit→Undo or reapply the filter or plug-in.

Though filters add a great deal of interest and variety to documents, you can overload when using them. Experiment freely with filters — just make sure that you don’t use too many on one part of an image when you’re creating a final project.

For example, if you bevel and emboss a particular letter in a few different ways, that character can become illegible. Similarly, adding a huge drop shadow can distract the eye from other parts of the text.