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Artfully distorting your graphics with effects and filters can rarely be the foundation of your design, but is often very important at the finishing stages.  Learn the principles behind these transformations, how to choose the right one, and how to know when to abstain.

Today, probably the hottest graphic software titles on the market are various add-ons and plug-ins, effects and filters, applets and gadgets, offering all imaginable sorts of graphic stunts and distortion feats.  Sure, if the booming graphics market had not required this "cool stuff" over anything else, programmers would not spend so much time developing image distortion utilities.  Legions of graphic neophytes are enthusiastically sharing tons of graphic recipes, and a program is considered obsolete if it cannot do one-click drop shadows and bevelled buttons.

The title of the article implies that all effects involve some sort of distortion, deterioration of the source image.  This is indeed the case, although the "distortion" meant here doesn't imply making your image "worse" in an aesthetic sense, but only some degree of loss, or corruption, of the original image's information (Web designers know that, if the source is a photo or another complex graphic, applying an effect in many cases reduces the file size of the image).  This "degradation," if tastefully done, can be more pleasing to human perception than strictly regular forms or perfectly authentic photos.  And you may have noticed that the motives of degradation and abandon are pretty modish in modern design.



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