How to use filters to enhance your website’s impact

We can blame apps like Hipstamatic and Instagram for the prevalence of filtered photos. Anyone with a smartphone can take a photo, slap a few filters on it, and publish it to the web in seconds.

Which explains why there are a ton of filtered photos out there that aren’t particularly attractive, and also why filtering has gotten a bad rap in some cases.

And yet, filtered photos remain popular, and for good reason. Proper filtering can hide a multitude of sins and make even a mediocre photo look like a work of art.

They can also be incredibly useful for making a bunch of photos from different sources look unified and like they belong together. That can be invaluable when crafting a design, whether it be for print or web.

Here we’ll take a look at how sites are using filtered photos to elevate their designs, and then share some more professional tools for creating your own filtered pics, sans-smartphone.

 

Websites using filters

There are tons of sites out there that use vintage-style and other filtered images. Some make them the focus of the design, using them as backgrounds or feature images, while others filter things like product photos.

The Prince Ink Company

The Prince Ink Company

 

Sleep Op

sleep op

 

Locals Apparel

locals apparel

 

Everlovin’ Press

everlovin press

 

Built

built

 

Knuckles Industries

knuckles industries

 

Lois Jeans

lois jeans

 

Soyuz Coffee Roasting

soyuz coffee roasting

 

Blackhouse

blackhouse

 

Crop the Block

crop the block

 

RFRM

rfrm

 

Rotate

rotate

 

Grovemade

grovemade

 

Oyster Books

oyster books

 

Thisispaper Shop

thisispaper

 

Matthew Carleton

matthew carleton

 

We Are Mammoth

mammoth

 

Brave People

brave people

 

Seattle Cider Co

seattle cider

 

Creative Brook

creative brook

 

delaBanda

delabanda

 

Grand & Mortar

grain and mortar

 

Colonia Verde

colonia verde

 

M Power Yoga

m power yoga

 

Manual

manual

 

Salt Surf

salt surf

 

Lumo

lumo

 

Joe’s Garage

joe's garage

 

Superiest

superiest

 

The Garden Edit

the garden edit

 

Bilder

bilder

 

The First Time

the first time

 

Ditto Residential

ditto

 

Walked & Worn

walked and worn

 

Uppercase

uppercase

 

Protest Boardwear

protest boardwear

 

Ian Coyle

ian coyle

 

Eva Black Design

eva black design

 

To filter or not to filter

You’ve seen plenty of sites now that use filtered photos effectively. You may have a good idea of when you should or shouldn’t use these kinds of images. But here are a few guidelines to decide whether you want to filter your photos or not:

  • You want to appeal to hipsters
  • You have a bunch of photos from different sources that need to look cohesive
  • Your site should have a retro or vintage feel
  • You want to add some extra visual interest to a site that’s otherwise very minimalist.
  • You want to tone down the images that you have to use because they’re competing with other design elements.

Granted, those aren’t the only reasons you might opt to filter your images, but they’re a good starting point to figure out if it’s appropriate or not.

 

Photoshop Action filters

While smartphone apps are most often used by amateurs looking to filter their photos, many pros who don’t want to create new looks entirely from scratch turn to premade Photoshop actions.

There are literally tens of thousands of actions available, both free and paid, with more being released all the time. Here are some great actions to get you started.

Set 28

set 28 includes 4 different actions, including a black and white filter.

set 28

 

PS Action 12

PS Action 12 offers up a number of stylized photo actions.

ps action 12

 

Action 01

Action 01 creates a faded effect on photos.

action 01

 

Vintage Effect – Ps Actions

Vintage Effect Ps Actions is a set of actions that emulate a number of vintage styles.

vintage effect

 

Old Photo Action

This Old Photo Action creates a warm vintage look for your photos.

old photo action

 

Wedding Theme Action

While this is called Wedding Theme Action, the nine actions it includes are really appropriate for much more than just wedding photos.

wedding theme action

 

HDR Tools

HDR Tools is a set of three different levels of HDR look, from light to heavy.

hdr tools

 

Photo Coloring II

Photo Coloring II gives a warm vintage look to your photos.

photo coloring ii

 

Colors Actions

Colors Actions is a set of six different colored filter actions.

colors actions

 

Photoshop Action 23

Photoshop Action 23 adds a yellow filter to your images.

photoshop action 23

 

Hard Lomo Action

This Hard Lomo Action quickly gives your images a lomography look.

hard lomo action

 

Retro Filters

Retro Filters is a set of ten free vintage filters.

retro filters

 

Purple Contrast

Purple Contrast does exactly as the name implies: adds a purple contrast to your photos.

purple contrast

 

Bella Action

Bella Action adds a warm feeling to photos.

bella action

 

Amatorka Action 2

Amatorka Action 2 adds a dynamic look to images.

amatorka action 2

 

Dramatic Sepia

Dramatic Sepia adds a very strong sepia filter.

dramatic sepia

 

Holgarizer

Holgarizer is an Action that emulates the style of Holga camera photos.

holgarizer

 

HipstaRev Actions Pack 1

HipstaRev Actions Pack 1 is a set of three actions reminiscent of Hipstamatic filters.

hipstarev

 

StarDeviant Action 1.08

StarDeviant Action 1.08 is

stardeviant action 1.08

 

LT’s Retro Lightleak Action

LT’s Retro Lightleak Action creates a great vintage lightleak effect.

lts retro lightleak action

 

Cherry Haze

Cherry Haze is a warm pinkish filter.

cherry haze

 

Buttercream Vintage

The Buttercream Vintage action creates a warm, very slightly faded effect on photos.

buttercream vintage

 

Lomo Photoshop Actions

These Lomo Photoshop Actions create lomography-like effects on your photos. It includes both “Soft Lomo” and “Pure Lomo” actions.

lomo photoshop actions

 

Retro Pink Action

This Retro Pink Action adds a distinct pink hue to your photos.

retro pink action

 

Apps for filtering your photos

While Photoshop Actions can be a powerful way to filter your photos, there are also standalone apps that can do similar things.

Pixlr-o-matic

The Pixlr-o-matic app lets you use photos from your computer or take them with a webcam. It offers a ton of different filters, most of which are pretty extreme.

pixlr-o-matic

 

Rollip

Rollip offers a bunch of filters, effects, borders, and text. And it gives you a live preview of each filter before you select it.

rollip

 

Fotor

Fotor offers free online photo filters for your photos, including lomo, vintage, and more.

Fotor

 

MakeRetro.com

MakeRetro.com offers up a handful of filters, including Lomo, Diana, and Chrome.

MakeRetro.com

 

VintageJS

VintageJS lets you make stunning photos with vintage effects. Just choose your image, apply the effect, and save it. There are four effects offered: vintage, sepia, greenish, and reddish, or you can create a custom effect (something most of the other online apps don’t offer).

VintageJS
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  • Arles

    Woah, what a complete and interesting article. This will come very handy when in need of filtering advice. Thanks a lot, I’ll make good use of these!

  • http://www.designfacet.com/ Sean Jamshidi

    Majority of these examples are not appropriate in the world of corporate and business professionals.

    • http://www.webdesignerdepot.com/ Benjie — WebdesignerDepot

      Leaving aside the fact that most of the examples are business professionals, what would be your objection?

      • http://www.designfacet.com/ Sean Jamshidi

        No objection. Maybe it will be a good workout for one of my designers to adopt a few of these effects to a corporate site and see how it turns out to be. I am not crazy about the faded or lackluster effects.

  • http://www.dribbble.com/mmeininger Michael Meininger

    hipster overload!!!! but neat

  • http://nodws.com/ Nodws

    trends date projects, avoid filters

    • http://www.dribbble.com/mmeininger Michael Meininger

      They also can make a project more relevant and lead to more project redesigns- which is industry security :)

    • http://www.webdesignerdepot.com/ Benjie — WebdesignerDepot

      I think it depends on what you’re applying it to. A logo, you do not want to be trendy (unless it’s for a one-off event or something similarly temporary) but most websites don’t last without a redesign for more than a couple of years.

      It’s unlikely that something that doesn’t start out looking dated is going to look that way in a matter of months.

  • http://www.xplotica.com Russel Frank

    Before using any photo for a website we need to check whether it is appropriate for that particular website or not.Because images are not just for the attraction it is also for the fulfillment of the website’s aim or goal. If it is a corporate or professional website we cannot opt for this.