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Brush Strokes

I'm not sure why the Brush Strokes filters aren't part of the Artistic set. Artists use brushes, don't they? However, Photoshop's creators isolated these eight filters as the Brush Strokes set. What do they do? Cool stuff! Figure 15.20 is our original picture of an apple tree waiting to be picked, to which we'll be applying the next several filters.

Accented Edges

Best if applied subtly, the Accented Edges filter enhances the contrast of edges. The dialog box lets you choose Edge Width, Edge Brightness, and Smoothness. The Brightness setting darkens edges if the amount is 25 or less; from 26–50, it progressively lightens them. Figure 15.21 shows the filter applied, with settings as follows: Edge Width, 6; Brightness, 27; and Smoothness, 2.

Figure 15.20 Apple tree, unfiltered.

Figure 15.21 Keep edge width small for best results.

Angled Strokes and Crosshatch

These filters give a crosshatched effect, similar to but darker than the one applied by the Colored Pencil filter. The Angled Strokes filter is less dramatic than the Crosshatch filter. Figure 15.22 shows both.

Figure 15.22 The Angled Strokes filter applied on the left and Crosshatch filter applied on the right.

Dark Strokes

You can use the Dark Strokes filter with many images only if you set the Black Intensity to 0 and the White Intensity to 10 in the dialog box. Otherwise, it tends to turn the whole picture black. Even with a relatively light picture, you might need to keep the black number low and the white setting high. Figure 15.23 shows you a carefully balanced application of dark strokes. My settings were Balance, 5; Black Intensity, 5; and White Intensity, 5.

Figure 15.23 Dark Strokes filter applied.

I never used to like this filter, but it does surprisingly nice things to the outline of the tree, even though it lost all the apples in the process. Perhaps it will do wonders for one of your photos, or possibly it will just muddy things up. You really never know what will happen until you try some of these filters, even though you can theoretically define what effect they'll have on specific dark or light areas. After years of Photoshop use, I am still frequently surprised (and often delighted) by what a filter like this can do to a photo.

Ink Outlines

The Ink Outlines filter places first a white line and then a black line around every edge that it identifies (see Figure 15.24). You can set stroke length and intensity in the dialog box.

Figure 15.24 Ink Outlines filter applied.

Applied to a still life or landscape, the Ink Outlines filter can give you the look of an old woodcut or steel engraving. If you use it on a portrait, however, it might add warts, blobs, and other potentially undesirable effects.


I really like the lacy effect on the apple tree in Figure 15.25. (Check it out in color, too.) My settings were Spray Radius 16, and Smoothness 8. Spatter is a filter that's potentially useful but, depending on the subject, might be better applied to selections rather than to the whole picture.

Figure 15.25 Spatter filter applied.

Sprayed Strokes

Sprayed Strokes looks like Spatter—but less messy. The interesting thing about the Sprayed Strokes filter is that you can control the direction of the spray. Figure 15.26 shows what it does to our apple tree picture. The settings for this variation were Stroke Length 15, Spray Radius 7, and Direction, Right Diagonal.

Figure 15.26 Sprayed Strokes filter applied.


Sumi-e is Japanese for brush painting, but the results of the Sumi-e filter can often look like the work of a crazed sumo wrestler, rather than a Zen master. This filter turns any area with any sort of detail almost completely black, even at the lowest settings. It renders all dark areas in black angled strokes. Use this filter to rescue a very light (underexposed) picture.

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