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Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Using Photoshop's Wave Distortion Filter to Create Abstract Art

When I review my shots after a photography outing, I inevitably end up using Photoshop to make minor image corrections: using the curves tool to change the light and dark points, blurring backgrounds, sharpening a bit here and there, perhaps adjusting colour balance. But I rarely play around with Photoshop's other filters — partly, I guess, because I'm a bit of a purist, but mostly because time is always at a premium around here. I make an exception, though, for the distortion filters. The wave filter, in particular, can produce dramatic results.

Even mediocre photographs can be transformed into outstanding art pieces after being run through this filter. Any image with prominent horizontal and/or vertical elements and strong saturated colour is a good candidate for this treatment, which provides substantial control over the wave effect. The filter dialog box allows you to set the number of wave generators and specify wavelength, amplitude, and scale. (I'm not sure what scale does, but varying the setting creates interesting effects.)

I have included a couple of before and after examples to show you the results produced by this filter. The bold lines and strong colour of the image at top left made this architectural shot a good wave distortion candidate. The image of a stand of bamboo was uninspiring on its own. Running it through the wave filter transformed it into a colourful swirl of undulating pools and eddies. Two previously photo-realistic images have become delightful works of abstract art, and I am hooked.

I have created a Flickr account so you can see larger versions of both the originals and the distorted results.


Christian said...

Hello, this is a great idea. Thank you for sharing it. I'm going to use it and see what I come up with. Is this the newest version of Photoshop?


Pam said...

Thanks Christian. I use PhotoShop CS2.

Anonymous said...

I didn't even realize PS had a wave filter! Thanks!


Pam said...

You're welcome :-)