Find Edges Technique
for Altering Images

by Florence W. Deems

You'll find "Find Edges" in Photoshop CS3, CS4, and CS5, (CS6 ?) under Filter>Stylize>Find Edges. I have played around with this filter and sometimes even use it for sharpening instead of one of the sharpening filters, like High Pass. It all depends on the image, as Find Edges sharpening doesn't work well on some images.

When you use it for sharpening, the best blend mode is usually Multiply, or Overlay as a second choice. Follow Steps 1-5 for sharpening.


  1. Open Image in Camera Raw.
    If image has lots of dark areas, use the Fill Light slider to open up the dark colors.

  2. Open in PS CS3.

  3. Make Duplicate Layer (Layer>Duplicate)

  4. Filter>Stylize>Find Edges

  5. Experiment with blending modes

  6. Merge Layers or Flatten and save. OR - continue to next item.

  7. Make Duplicate Layer #2.

  8. Repeat Find Edges (#4 above) - the image will get darker and colors more saturated.

  9. Repeat, or continue to next item

  10. Make Duplicate Layer #3

  11. Repeat Find Edges (#$ above) and experiment with blending modes - OR -

  12. Make an Adjustment Layer -

    • B&W OR

    • Invert OR

    • Posterize

      With the above 3 choices, experiment with blending modes.

  13. Merge all layers or Flatten and Save.

The above steps outline the bare basics. One can also experiment with other filters and/or Adjustment Layers.

NOTE: The image files are named like this: "02-image name-findedges-X1-blendmode.jpg." They are numbered in the order I created them, starting with the original and with the blend modes listed alphabetically. In the image file names, "findedge-X1" or "findedge-X3" means the number of times I stacked the Find Edges Layers for each image.

Hydrangea Seed Pods plus composites with Aaron's and Usha's portraits

For the image of Aaron: I selectively blurred the background as well as parts of his face. For Usha's images, I worked on the hydrangea background first and then composited and painted in the backgrounds at about 8% opacity until I got what I wanted. More below.

Reaching for the Light

This is a great technique for not only making your own backgrounds, but also modifying them to use to change the backgrounds for portraits, without having to spend money on large canvas backgrounds like studios use.

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