Cutout filter in Adobe Photoshop for abstract artworks in CC CS6 CS5 etc
You can find the cutout filter in the filter menu and filter gallery and the artistic section 'cutout'. The cutout filter is for RGB 8bit images. The cutout filter has only a few settings
1) number of levels
2) Edge simplicity
3) Edge fidelity
The cutout filter is a powerful effect that works best combined with other images such as the gaussian blur filter. You can use it create an interesting drawn looks as well as some truly abstract designs. You can also combine the results from the cutout with other effects such as the 3D graphics in Photoshop CC
1) Number of levels - the lower the setting, the more abstract the image with hardly any features appearing
2) Edge simplicity - the higher the setting, the more the image will be lost and replaced with solid colors
3) Edge fidelity - probably the least effective of the settings with very subtle changes with either maximum or minimum but it does come in useful if the image is noisy
If you want more of your image then the best settings for the cutout filter in Photoshop are levels 8 and edge simplicity 0.
If you want a more cubist like image then set the number of levels to 8 and edge simplicity 10
If you want a fairly flat scene then set the levels to 2 and edge simplicity to 10
As with many filters in the filter gallery, the cutout filter works best when it is re-applied or used in combination with other filters such as the gaussian blur. I really don't like to see them described as one click tricks or one trick ponies etc, they can be used in countless ways to create many unique artworks.
1) gaussian blur 10
2) cutout filter levels 3 and edge simplicity 3
3) cutout filter levels 8 and edge simplicity 7
Actually, the edge fidelity really kicks in on the second pass. With the first application of the cutout filter, the edge fidelity had hardly any effect but with two passes you can see the change with the edge fidelity.
4) repeat cutout filter etc to create a still recognisable design (in most cases) but still now very flattened.
It should be noted that the cutout results will vary depending on the source image. I am using a 1000 x 1000 image but the effect may vary with a noisy image and 4000 x 4000.
As with all the filters in Photoshop, you can use the cutout filter and then go to the edit menu and fade the result. You can also use the fade to change the opacity and the blending mode of the effect and that can be used to create interesting cutout effects such as using the abstract cutout filter effect and then using the edit menu and fade with the divide blending mode for a very surreal looking artwork (such as on the left)
Or you can use the edit and fade with screen and other blending modes such as with the image on the right
The result can be a very surreal looking cutout effect.
The great thing about the cutout effect is that the result is a large expanse of a single color and that is great for a selection using the magic wand tool. You can either select the areas of the cutout filter result and then copy and paste them onto different layers (now that would be a very useful feature for the filter, the ability to place the solid colors on different layers) as well as just using the selection of the solid color areas and filling them with different colors such as gradients (as on the left) or perhaps patterns (on the right using checkerboard patterns)
1) apply cutout filter
2) go to a solid area of color
3) use the magic wand and select
4) fill with a gradient or pattern fill etc
5) repeat selection etc
The cutout filter in Photoshop is great for creating abstract art but sometimes the result of averaging out an image can be a fairly unsaturated and dull design without a little tweaking and I always find the camera raw filter or some of the adjustments super useful to finish on.
The image on the left has been made a little more vibrant by using the vibrance and exposure etc settings of the camera raw filter found in the filter menu