How To Use The Camera Raw Radial Filter In Photoshop

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How To Use The Camera Raw Radial Filter In Photoshop

before and After mage in Camera Raw
Before and After with Camera Raw Radial Filter.

A common solution to pulling a user’s attention to a specific area of a photo has been to use a vignette. When this technique is used the subject is usually bright and the rest of the photo is somewhat darkened. Though a common technique, one of its more frustrating aspects is that the subject usually had to be in the center of the photo. The Radial Filter ,which is part of Photoshop’s Camera Raw filter, solves this issue by allowing you to accurately place a vignette and , if needed, you can use it to create multiple light sources in an image.

In this “How To … “ we’ll look at how to use this filter to pull the viewer’s attention to a statue’s face and use it, twice, to adjust both the vignette area and the subject.

Let’s get started.

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How To Create A Smart Filter In Photoshop

Convert for Smart Menus item from Adobe Photoshop Filter menu
Start by converting the image for Smart Filters.

As I pointed out in an earlier Camera Raw “How To”, the first step in the process is not to dig right in and go to work. Any changes you make to the image by going this route will be “baked in” meaning you won’t be able to fix things later on. Instead, you select the image layer and then select Filter> Convert For Smart Filters.  The advantage here is you can always return to the filter and “tweak it” because Smart Filters are non-destructive. 

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How To Apply And Adjust The Camera Raw Radial Filter In Photoshop

Two Radial filter control points are shown.
The control points let you adjust the Radial Filter shape and position.

To apply the Radial Filter you select it in the Camera Raw Filter Tools and then drag out a circle around the subject to be highlighted. When you release the mouse you will see a colored dot in the middle of the circle and handles on the edges of the circle. Dragging the dot moves the circle and clicking and dragging a handle changes the shape of the circle. Placing the cursor to the side of a handle will let you rotate the circle.

To remove the filter click on the dot and press the Delete or Backspace key. Another method is to press the  Alt/Option key and click on the dot. When you press the Option/Alt key the cursor will change to a pair of scissors. Click on the dot and the Filter is removed.

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How To Select The Camera Raw Vignette Area in Photoshop

The Effect Area of the Radial filter is highlighted.
Decide if the Radial Filter is applied inside or outside of the selection.

You can apply adjustments either Inside or Outside of the Radial Filter area by selecting either Outside or Inside in the Effect area at the bottom of the Radial Filter panel. You will also be given a visual clue regarding the selection. If you choose Inside the dot will be green and if you choose Outside the dot will be Red.

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How To Adjust The Camera Raw Vignette Area in Photoshop

The final result of applying an Outside Radial Filter is shown.
The Radial Filter is applied outside the selection.

I decided to first work on the Vignette area. With Outside selected I adjusted the Exposure, Contrast , Shadows and Clarity of the area Outside of the filter. The effect was to keep the face of the statue illuminated while darkening the area outside of the circle. If you deselect the circle the dot turns white. If you roll the cursor over the dot the area affected by the dot will sprout a red mask that looks like a Quick Mask in Photoshop. Click on the dot and the circle reappears. 

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How To Use Multiple Camera Raw Radial Filters in Photoshop

Multiple instances of the Radial Filter have been applied to the image.
Multiple instances of the Radial Filter can be applied to an image.

The image looked fine but I felt the face area needed a bit more work. I selected the Radial Filter and drew out another  instance of the filter. In this case, I selected Inside as the effect and used the various adjustments to “pop” the face out of the background. At this point you can click OK to return back to Photoshop.