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Gr. 8: Making an Avatar in Photoshop

posted Mar 16, 2012, 8:12 AM by   [ updated Mar 16, 2012, 8:25 AM ]
In the next few weeks, we're going to be exploring lots of different aspects of Photoshop.  For our first lesson, we're going to start with a photograph of ourselves and turn it into a digital avatar using filters.


Understanding layers is the bread and butter of photoshop.  Layering is a really simple concept: when you add a layer, you're literally stacking an image on top of an image.  This can get confusing though if you don't remember to pay attention to which layer you're on, or what order the layers are in.  Here's a few quick things to remember:
  • Layers sit on top of each other.  The layers at the top of the list are in the front.
  • You can make layers visible and invisible.
  • You can only edit the layer that's selected.
  • Duplicate layers you want to edit.  That way, you still have the original if something goes wrong.


  1. Take a picture of yourself in Photo Booth and drag it onto the desktop.  Don't use any effects.
  2. Right click on the picture and select Open With--> Adobe Photoshop Elements 4.0
  3. Duplicate the background layer by right clicking on it and selecting Duplicate.
  4. Use the crop tool to select only the portion of the image you want to keep.
  5. Go to Filter --> Filter Gallery.
  6. Select a filter you like on your image.  Use the sliders to adjust it to your liking.
  7. Repeat steps 3-6.
If you try to use a "Sketch" type filter, you will notice that the sketch takes a particular color.  You can change the foreground and background colors in the main workspace before you go into the Filter Gallery to change those colors.