photoshop creative

Fix Barrel distortion

Posted in:
General, by The Photoshop Creative Team
September 23, 2011

Have you been blighted by barrel distortion? Check out our tutorial in issue 79 for a clever fix.

Camera lenses have a nasty habit of making your images warp and barrel distortion is a common example of this. Check out the tutorial in issue 79 and discover how to flatten any bulgy areas.

Barrel distortion is most common among images shot with a wide-angle or fish-eye lens. It’s a trait of photography that can often make images look stylish and artistic, but sometimes it doesn’t suit and they just seem out of shape. If you find yourself confronted by the latter, there is a way of correcting this in Photoshop to make the image look less distorted and strange to the viewer.

Our image above shows a clear barrel distortion in the bowed masts of the boats and in the reflections on the water. It looks like the image has been bloated and punched out from the centre to create a bubble effect. Although this is helpful for drawing in the corners on a shot of a tight interior space, sometimes this distortion is not what you need, or you might have a change of heart and decide it’s not the right way to go for your image.

First we used the Transform tool to bend the image back into shape, then rotated and squashed it back to a more natural perspective (depending on how far barrelled the image is, however, it is not always possible to recover it into a convincing shape). The Lens Correction filter is no doubt the popular choice for this, but here we will show you an alternative method and reveal how it can be done using some careful transformations and tweaks for full control over how you want the final image to end up. Our start image is slightly exaggerated over the usual barrel distortion, but it just goes to show how easy it is to fix!

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