Single-click photo filter effects are something that have been available through photo processing programs like Adobe Photoshop for a long time. But they reached mainstream popularity more recently via the Instagram photo sharing site when they first offered about a dozen creative photo filters within their Instagram Smartphone app around 5 years ago.
Apple eventually took the best of the Instagram filters and created 5 of their own post processed effects which they made part of their iOS in 2013. So with the launch of iOS 7, five different filters could now be applied to photos with a single screen-tap using either an iPhone or iPad via the iOS Photos app.
Single-click filters are quite handy to have within a Smartphone as they quickly spice up a photo without one having to think too much about how to improve an image before sending it off to some friends.
And people talk a lot about the convenience of Smartphone photo filters, so I recently decided to create a set of my own one-click actions for Photoshop that produce similar results on a computer to the five iOS photo filters. As Actions, they can be applied to any hi-res photo on your computer via a single click from within Adobe Photoshop.
In this article I’m going to show you the five different filter effects I created, discuss a bit about the effects of each one of them, provide you a free download link to one of the Actions, and give you a second link where you can grab the full set of 5 one-click Photoshop Filter Actions for less than $5.
Most of the 5 iOS effects Apple created are simply filters that shift colors, increase levels and contrast, and either increase or decrease saturation. The 5 filters I am referring to are called Instant, Chrome, Fade, Process, and Transfer. All 5 are available in iOS and below are examples of all the iOS filters applied to a sigle photo of mine using an iPhone.
To achieve results in Photoshop similar to Apple iOS filter effects, I used a series of adjustment layers. This means I applied the edits in a non-destructive way so that the effects added to the photo are not permanent. The layers that the Actions create can also be fully or partially reversed by removing them from the original photo at any time or tweaking them a bit more after the action finishes running to season them to one’s own personal liking.
You will also notice that my results generally have a bit more punch and pop, with better contrast and brightness than what the actual iOS filter examples are able to produce.
Below is the original photo I am going to be working with to demonstrate all 5 filters. I chose an image with a wide range of colors to show you what the filters really can do. You can also purchase the original photo below in 21MP high-res if you would like to use it for either a personal or commercial project by clicking here.
Let’s start with the iOS filter called Instant, which is bit of a washed-out look. It has lots of desaturation, heavy increases to brightness in the highlights and midtones, lots of added contrast, and a few color tweaks. Below is Apple’s standard iOS Instant effect applied to my photo from above using an iPhone:
Here is my photo after I applied a series of layers in Photoshop to create a similar Instant effect. Mine also has a bit less fading, but more brightness than Apple’s filter:
Below is what all the layers I created look like in Photoshop to create the above effect and you can see the original background layer is at the bottom of the stack where it remains untouched:
As I mentioned, I created a free one-click action that you can download and use within Photoshop to achieve the same effect as above. Click here to download my Instant Filter Action for free and then apply it to any of your own photos in Photoshop now or anytime in the future.
Next is the Chrome filter. Chrome is again lots of increases to midtones and highlights, lots of contrast, a bit of saturation adjustment, and some color shifting. Below is Apple’s standard iOS Chrome effect applied to my original photo using an iPhone:
Here is my photo after I applied a series of layers in Photoshop to achieve a similar Chrome effect:
Next is the Fade filter. Fade is mostly saturation adjustments, with a bit of levels and contrast adjusting and topped off with some color filtering. Below is Apple’s standard iOS Fade effect applied to my original photo using an iPhone:
Here is my photo after I applied a series of layers in Photoshop to achieve a similar Fade effect:
Next is the Process filter. Process is what is known as a cross processed look with a lot of cyan added to the shadows. There are some saturation, levels, and contrast adjustments, but most of the effect is created by adding a color shift to the shadows. Below is Apple’s standard iOS Process filter applied to my original photo using an iPhone:
Here is my photo after I applied a series of layers in Photoshop to achieve a similar Process filter effect:
Last is the Transfer filter. Transfer is a bit like the Instant photo filter look, but with less desaturation and more added cyan and with less magenta added in the highlights than with the Instant filter. The adjustments include heavy levels and contrast tweaks, but mainly color shifting again. Below is Apple’s standard iOS Transfer effect applied to my original photo using an iPhone:
Here is my photo after I applied a series of layers in Photoshop to achieve a similar Transfer effect, however I chose to use a bit less cyan than Apple did as I prefer a bit of a warmer feel:
So there you go and here you can download all 5 of the one-click Photoshop Filter Actions above as a set (using PayPal or Credit Card). Then you can apply each of the filters to any of your own photos with a single click in Adobe Photoshop anytime you like.
If you have any questions about my Photoshop Actions, or anything related to this post, please feel free to comment below.
*UPDATE #1 / 23-February-17* I just posted a new article on how to use another Adobe Photoshop Action I created to give your photos a retro look. Go here to read the new article entitled Making Your Urban Street Photos Turn Retro.