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Distort filters

    The Distort filters geometrically distort an image, creating 3D or other reshaping effects. Note that these filters can be very memory intensive.

    Diffuse Glow

    Renders an image as though it were viewed through a soft diffusion filter. The filter adds see-through white noise to an image, with the glow fading from the center of a selection.

    Displace filter

    Uses an image, called a displacement map, to determine how to distort a selection. For example, using a parabola-shaped displacement map, you can create an image that appears to be printed on a cloth held at its corners.

    This filter creates displacement maps, using a flattened file saved in Adobe Photoshop format (except Bitmap mode images). You can also use the files in the Plug-Ins/ Displacement Maps folder in the Photoshop program folder.

To use the Displace filter:

  1. Choose Filter > Distort > Displace.
  2. Enter the scale for the magnitude of the displacement.
  3. When the horizontal and vertical scale are set to 100%, the greatest displacement is 128 pixels (because middle gray produces no displacement).

  4. If the displacement map is not the same size as the selection, choose how the map will fit the image--Stretch to Fit to resize the map, or Tile to fill the selection by repeating the map in a pattern.
  5. Choose Wrap Around or Repeat Edge Pixels to determine how undistorted areas of the image will be treated. (See Defining undistorted areas.)
  6. Click OK.
  7. Select and open the displacement map. The distortion is applied to the image.
  8. The Displace filter shifts a selection using a color value from the displacement map--0 is the maximum negative shift, 255 the maximum positive shift, and a gray value of 128 produces no displacement. If a map has one channel, the image shifts along a diagonal defined by the horizontal and vertical scale ratios. If the map has more than one channel, the first channel controls the horizontal displacement and the second channel controls the vertical displacement.


    Makes an image appear as if it is being viewed through different types of glass.You can choose a glass effect or create your own glass surface as a Photoshop file and apply it. You can adjust scaling, distortion, and smoothness settings. When using surface controls with a file, follow the instructions for the Displace filter. For more information about Glass filter controls, see Using texture and glass surface controls.

    Ocean Ripple

    Adds randomly spaced ripples to the image's surface, making the image look as if it were under water.


    Squeezes a selection. A positive value up to 100% shifts a selection toward its center; a negative value up to -100% shifts a selection outward.

    Polar Coordinates

    Converts a selection from its rectangular to polar coordinates, and vice versa, according to a selected option. You can use this filter to create a cylinder anamorphosis--art popular in the 18th century--in which the distorted image appears normal when viewed in a mirrored cylinder.


    Creates an undulating pattern on a selection, like ripples on the surface of a pond. For greater control, use the Wave filter. Options include the amount and size of ripples.


    Distorts an image along a curve. Specify the curve by dragging the line in the box to form a curve for the distortion. You can adjust any point along the curve. Click Default to return the curve to a straight line. In addition, you choose how to treat undistorted areas. (See Defining undistorted areas.)


    Gives objects a 3D effect by wrapping a selection around a spherical shape, distorting the image and stretching it to fit the selected curve.


    Rotates a selection more sharply in the center than at the edges. Specifying an angle produces a twirl pattern.


    Works in a similar way to the Ripple filter, but with greater control. Options include the number of wave generators, the wavelength (distance from one wave crest to the next), the height of the wave, and the wave type: Sine (rolling), Triangle, or Square. The Randomize option applies random values. You can also define undistorted areas. (See Defining undistorted areas.)

    TipTo replicate wave results on other selections, click Randomize, set the Number of Generators to 1, and set the minimum and maximum Wavelength and Amplitude parameters to the same value.


    Distorts a selection radially, depending on the radius of the pixels in your selection. The Ridges option sets the number of direction reversals of the zigzag from the center of the selection to its edge. You also choose how to displace the pixels: Pond Ripples displaces pixels to the upper left or lower right, Out From Center displaces pixels toward or away from the center of the selection, and Around Center rotates pixels around the center.