Photoshop's Cut Out Filter - Creating Photographics

By Dr. Robert Berdan
November 12, 2011



Oxtongue River after applying cutout filter by Robert Berdan ©

Autumn Scene - Oxtongue River near Alqonguin Park, Ontario after processing with Adobe's Cut Out filter.

I just came home after a short visit to my favorite camera store and while I was there I picked up a copy of Photo News. In the Autumn issue I saw an article by Daryl Benson called "One Click Wonder" where he described how he uses Photoshop's Cutout filter to convert some of his photographs into "Photo Graphics". I liked the effect he was getting so I quickly grabbed some of my favorite photographs and applied the filter. It's simple, easy and fast to do - the biggest challenge is deciding where to set the sliders and how much you want to simplify your image. Most importantly I found it fun. I started with images about 9 x 6 inches x 300 dpi, I found that if I used lower resolution files the effect did not work as well.

If you own Photoshop just open some of your favorite images and apply the cutout filter as shown in the window below.

Photoshop Cutout filter window - you have 3 sliders on the right that affect the levels, edge simplicity and edge fidelity.

Above shows a group of Caribou bulls from the Northwest Territories with no filters applied.

Caribou after the Cutout filter with the following settings: Levels 8, Edge Simplicity 8 and Edge Fidelity 1 - very abstract

Caribou after using the Cutout filter with the following settings: Levels 8, Edge Simplicity 5 and Edge Fidelity 1.

There are no magic settings, you need to experiment and determine if you like more or less complexity in your final image. Painters and graphic artists often simply images when creating their artwork and the cutout filter is a great way to play with your images. Below are a few more images that I experimented with.

Carmanah Valley Sitka Spruce tress after applying cutout filter by Robert Berdan ©

The Carmanah Valley - Giant Sitka Spruce after applying Cutout filter

Frost covered trees after Photoshop cutout filter by Robert Berdan ©

Frost covered trees along the Bow River after applying the Cutout filter.

Ornamental corn after cutout filter by Robert Berdan ©

Ornamental Corn after applying cutout filter

Great Horned Owl after cutout filter by Robert Berdan ©

Great Horned Owl - cutout filter

Autoum Colours in Ontario

Autumn colors in Ontario

While creating "Photographics" isn't everyone's cup of tea I enjoy experimenting with my photographs. As winter is looming and the days become shorter I tend to spend more time in front of my computer going through the images I have taken and trying to determine how I might make them more marketable. Some photographers might think why turn a photo into a graphic - I would rather think "why not". The cutout filter is just one of many Photoshop filters you can try. Thanks Daryl - I always appreciate new and interesting ideas I can borrow. RB


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