Here are 10 of my favorite tips, techniques and shortcuts for working with filters in Photoshop CC.
01) Apply the Last Used Filter
- Command + Control + F (Mac) | Command + Alt + F (Win) executes the last used filter.
02) Display the Last Used Filter
- Command + Option + F (Mac) displays the dialog box for the last used filter. (Note: there is no default keyboard shortcut for Windows, however you can make your own by customizing the shortcut for Filter > Last Filter and then adding the alt key when using that custom shortcut!)
03) Filter Gallery
- Filter Gallery can only be applied to 8 bit images.
- While in the Filter Galley dialog:
- Option -click (Mac) | Alt -click (Win) a filter’s preview icon to add it as a new filter (instead of replacing the current filter).
- Option -click (Mac) | Alt -click (Win) the disclosure triangle to the left of a Filter Category to expand/collapse all categories.
- If you prefer to view the artistic filters listed under Filter Gallery in the filter menu, select Preferences > Plug-ins > Show All Filter Gallery Groups and Names.
04) Quickly Find and Apply a Filter
- If you know the name of the filter that you are trying to run, but don’t want to waste time finding it in the menus, use Command + F and type the filter name into the search dialog.
- If you often use the same filters, assign a keyboard shortcut to them using the Keyboard shortcut editor (Edit > Keyboard Shortcuts)
05) PDF with Examples of Photoshop Filters
I created this PDF (JKost_ArtisticFilters) for my Photoshop CC 2017 Essential Training course on Lynda.com | LinkedIn Learning. The examples are pretty straight forward, (meaning that I didn’t combine any filters to make “complicated” effects), but I think it’s a good resource especially for anyone that is teaching Photoshop.
06) Non-destructive Filtering of Layer(s)
- Any filter applied to a Smart Object automatically becomes a “Smart Filter”. (Choose Layer > Smart Object > Convert to Smart Object to convert the selected layer(s) into a Smart Object before adding the filter).
- Change the filter parameters of a Smart Filter at any time by double clicking on the name of the filter in the Layers panel (that’s what makes them smart, they’re nondestructive and re-editable at any time).
- Change the Opacity and Blend Mode of the Smart Filter by double clicking the Filter Blending Option (two small lines with triangles under then to the right of the filter name in the Layers panel.)
- Paint in the Smart Filter mask just as you would any layer mask (black to hide the filter, white to show).
- When working with video in Photoshop, converting a layer into a Smart Object and then adding a filter applies the filter to all frames in a video layer (not just the first frame).
07) Moving Smart Filters
- In the Layers panel, drag the name of the Smart Filter to copy it from one layer to another.
08) Duplicating Smart Filters
- Option -drag (Mac) | Alt -drag (Win) a Smart Filter from one layer to another will behave differently based on where you click and drag:
- Dragging the name of the Smart Filter duplicates without copying the mask.
- Dragging the “Smart Filters” text (next to the mask) will duplicate the Smart Filter including the layer mask.
09) Making a Selection on a Layer with a Smart Filter
If you use a Smart Filter’s mask to hide the effects of a Smart Filter, Photoshop will still make selections based on the filtered content – even though it is hidden.
Here is the original photo of an Iceberg, converted to a Smart Object ignorer to add the Path Blur filter as a Smart Filter.
The illustration below shows after adding the Path Blur (listed as Blur Gallery on the Layers panel) as a Smart Filter. Notice that the entire layer is blurred.
Drawing a linear gradient in the Smart Filters mask reveals the Path Blur in the water, but hides it from the iceberg.
Using the Quick Select tool, I expected Photoshop to easily select only the sky, but it selected the iceberg as well (because Photoshop applies the Path Blur to the entire layer – the mask is only hiding the filter).
Hiding the Path Blur (by toggling off the eye icon next to Blur Gallery), enabled the Quick Select tool to easily select the sky.
In the final image below, I added the new sky layer (adding a mask based on the selection so that they sky wouldn’t overlap the iceberg), and toggled on the visibility of the Blur Gallery Smart Filter (to display the Path Blur filter in the water).
10) Fading Filters
Command + Shift + F (Mac) | Control + Shift + F (Win) displays the Fade options to change Opacity and Blend Mode of the fade last filter applied. Note: the Fade command can only be applied directly after running the filter and can not be used on a Smart Object (because Smart Objects are non-distructive and can be changed at any time using the Layers panel).