PI7 Color Emboss Custom Filter

color emboss custom filter

For years, a constant feature of PhotoImpact has been the ability to create custom filters via the Effect menu commands. However, there is very little documentation available on how to make your own custom filters.

This tutorial shows you how to make your own color emboss filter, save it, then load it again for future use. Once you've created and saved a CFL file, you can zip it up and share it with other PI users, just like EasyPalette presets or Quick Command Panel tasks.

You can use my water lily photo or one of your own photos. Keep in mind that that this filter produces an embossed effect, so it blurs detail slightly. It works best on images with good contrast and large blocks of uninterrupted color.

Open the photo you're going to use in the work space. Choose Effect, Custom Filter. You'll see a dialog box with a complex matrix.

custom filter dialog box

The default matrix has a 1 in the center, Symmetry=None and is Divided by 1. Before we create our own filter, let's go through the options in this dialog box to see what they do. It's not exactly an intuitive process. Fortunately, if you click Samples you'll get a dropdown list of preset sample filters.

sample filters

These Samples are a great jumping off point for tweaking your own filters. Select one after another, and observe the effect that the sample has on its matrix. You will see a pattern of 0's, 1's, and -1's for most samples, but others will have higher values. These numbers represent the relative weight assigned to each pixel when calculating new pixel colors for the filter effect. The number in the center of the matrix will change based on the other values. In general, you will see a balance of positive and negative numbers distributed in a pattern around the central value in the matrix. Each time a number is changed, click Test and you'll see the results in the right side preview window. Click Reset to go back to the default values.

Select any Sample and observe its "Divided by" value. While this number can be any number that brings the total in the matrix between 1 and 256, ideally this number should be exactly equal to all of the numbers in the matrix. If the matrix total is 0, the Divided by value should be 1, but do experiment to see for yourself. If you select too high or too low a Divided by value and click Test, your image will likely turn solid black or solid white.

Symmetry's main effect appears to be on helping add pixel color adjustments to the filter quickly. The Offset value is very important because it lightens (positive numbers) or darkens (negative numbers) the image to which the filter is applied. Invert causes the filter to invert its colors, just as the Format, Invert command does.

Now that we've gone over the main values for the custom filter matrix, you'll likely want to play around with them on your own. That's what I did, editing Samples at first. Finally I came up with a couple of filters I made myself from scratch, through sheer trial and error. I wanted to achieve an embossed effect which would retain color. While I've been able to do this with a Quick Command Panel task, I thought it would be fun to make a filter that creates a similar effect.

So with your image and the Custom Filter dialog box open, click Reset to return to the default settings. Enter the values shown below to create an emboss filter, one which does not turn the image gray (as the Emboss sample does).

enter these values

Note that there are negative numbers to the right and bottom of the central cell in the matrix, and positive numbers on the left and top of the matrix. This will cause the highlights in the emboss effect to appear on the left, and the shadows of the emboss to fall on the right. You could just as easily reverse this pattern of positive and negative numbers so that the highlights and shadows of the emboss are reversed. Notice that I have selected a Divided by value of 1, since the total of the cells in the matrix equals 1. Note also that you can edit the Offset value to a negative number if you want a darker effect for this color emboss filter. I've left my Offset value at 0.

Click the Preview button to view the filter applied to your image in the work space.

preview button

You should see a richening of colors and a decided embossed texture on the image. Click the Undo and Redo button a few times to see the change in the image. Click Continue to return back to the Custom Filter dialog box. To save the filter for future use, you have two options: (1) Click the Add button to add this filter to your EasyPalette; or (2) Click the Save button to save the filter to a folder on your hard drive.

To save to the EasyPalette, click Add, which opens the Add to EasyPalette dialog box. Give the filter a name (e.g., Color Emboss Filter) and save it to My Gallery.

add to easypalette box

You should see a thumbnail added to the designated Gallery in your EasyPalette.

thumbnail added

From now on if you want to use this custom filter, you only have to double click on its thumbnail. Alternatively, right click on its thumbnail and choose "Modify properties and apply" to open the Custom Filter dialog box for tweaking.

However, if you'd like to share your custom filter effects with other people, you may prefer to click the Custom Filter dialog box's Save button. Doing so will open the Save Custom Filter dialog box. Browse to a folder on your hard drive. Name the filter and click Save. Note that the filter will be saved with Ulead's proprietary .CFL (Custom Filter Files) file extension.

To share a filter with others, just ZIP it up like you would any other preset and make it available to other PI users. In fact you can download my Color Emboss Custom Filter here. To use this filter, choose Effect, Custom Filter. When the dialog box opens, click Load, then browse to and select the coloremboss filter.

Now that you've saved your custom Color Emboss filter, you can click OK to close the dialog box and apply the filter. I hope you have fun experimenting with and sharing your own custom filters. Here is a Painted Emboss custom filter that I've created. You can see it applied to the still life photo below.

painted emboss filter

This tutorial uploaded 9/13/02

Do not duplicate, translate, copy, archive, appropriate or redistribute this document.



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