Homemade Photo Filter DIY

Homemade Filter DIYWe’ve fallen in love with dreamy photo filters! It’s common to find colorful filters you can add to your photos in iPhone apps. They can also be added using Photoshop. We thought it would be fun to do it the old-fashioned way, though! Here’s how we made our own filters for our DSLR cameras…

Homemade Filter DIY First, cut pieces of transparency about 1 inch (all the way around) larger than your camera lens. Then draw on them with sharpie (or any permanent marker). We experimented a lot and found that large, bold shapes work best. Small doodles and drawings do not show up. Above are a few of our favorite homemade filters.

How to use homemade filtersTo use your filter, simply hold it over your lens when shooting. (with auto focus enabled) Move the filter around over your lens as you frame your shot. You’ll be able to choose which part of your photo is in focus and which part is blurry and colorful!

Here are a few examples of photos we snapped using our homemade filters…

Homemade Filter DIY ExampleHomemade Filter DIY ExampleHomemade Filter DIY ExampleThe results are a little unpredictable, but that’s what we love about it! What do you think? Do you plan to create your own dreamy filters? It’s a fun and easy way to spice up your next photo shoot. xo. elsie

Dslr basicsLooking to improve your photography? Check out our latest DSLR Basics e-course.

  • Love the yellow filter on the middle photo. What a great idea! I am a graphic designer and know how to use photoshop but I am going to try this when I get my new camera! For the middle photo did you have filter only part way over the lens?


  • Whoa~! That’s just an awesome idea. I would have never guessed it worked so well. Thanks for sharing 😀

  • I have to try this!<3 I do not own such camera but I will try it out with my Blackberry, who knows probably works. Such a creative idea, thanks for sharing!:)

    Samantha xx

    PS: Obsessed is kind of a harsh word to tell you how I feel about your blog, I’d rather say… I’m in love with your blog 🙂

  • I experimented a while ago with this. I used wrappers from sweets, the ones used to wrap quality street chocolates. It’s pretty ghetto but it worked! Plus I got different effects if I covered the flash instead of the lens.

  • This is fantastic; I can’t wait to try it out! Thank you for sharing!


  • How fun – and EASY. My kind of DIY, and I LOVE the results!

    -Daisy Nguyen from PS BANANAS fashion blog:

  • Very fun! I’m always trying new things with my DSLR. Definitely have to try this!

  • Thanks for another great idea, ladies. I ended up making a filter with a plastic snack lid since I didn’t have any transparencies lying about. It didn’t turn out as nice as yours but I had a lot of fun anyway. Thanks again!


  • That’s so cool!! I’m going to have to try that… now to find transparencies! 🙂

  • What a great idea I should most definitely try it out!



  • That is unbelievably cool! Thank you for sharing this. I’m going to have fun playing around with this.


  • this is great! what color did you use for the bottom photo, or did you edit to b&w in post?

  • Yes! Also- if you use a basic UV filter over your lens, you can cut the transparency a tiiiny bit smaller than it and use UV filter to hold it in place (place your DIY filter on the lens and then screw the UV filter over it). During the bokeh season (Christmas!!), I like to use a cookie press disc behind my UV filter to get some cool shapes.

  • This is such a fun way! You can always use nylon stocking as well. Depending on which shade you use you can get a very dreamy result. Just hold it in front of your lens or attach it with a rubber band.

    Love your blog, always so inspiring!

  • I really love this idea! I have to try it!


  • Love your photography! You guys have a signature look to your pictures and this is a great tutorial for getting one’s own signature look!

  • Those are amazing, what an incredible idea! 🙂 I will try it today, now!
    You just need to have an auto-focus camera for that…

  • Wow! Very effective – I think I know what my weekend project will be now….! Thanks 🙂

  • Oooh…what an awesome idea!! They look lovely, too – such a great subtle tint of color… 🙂

  • Another tip; use your sunglasses as a filter! I find it gives a nice yellowish/vintage feel 🙂

  • Such a great idea! Last Christmas I tried to add bokeh to my pictures, but that didn’t work as well. This looks like a lot of fun too though. Worth the try for sure!

    xo Leonie


  • That is such a great idea! I need to do that soon!


  • Such a creative and fun thought! I’ll have to see if there’s a tactile difference between doing that or just adjusting the RGB through photoshop.

  • Taylor,
    I changed it to black and white in photoshop. You can see that the filter still creates a blur, even when you can’t see the color. 🙂

  • These photos look beautiful! Especially with those handmade filters! So creative and absolutely beautifying!

  • that’s so cool!
    I was wondering how you did the black and white one? Did you just color over with gray??

  • i did an ir on filters in photography. i read a book about making your own but i still haven’t go around to it. i tried out a bunch of different filters when i did it. i really love my defractor and my fog filters. i definitely recommend them.

  • What a neat idea! I love the idea of doing it the old-fashioned way, instead of using Photoshop 🙂

  • Wow! Such a neat idea!




  • Incredible! I can’t believe how simple his was done. Im certainly going to give it a shot! I love the way they came out, especially the pink.

  • Love this idea. I have done something similar when processing in the darkroom, but never thought to do it on the camera… Must try!


  • Aw this is fantastic! I love the filter/random blurry look – I tried the free-lensing thing after you guys posted on it and it turned out wonderfully. Thanks for sharing! Hope to see more fun tips! 😀

  • wow these are SO cool! genius! i never would have known it was that simple to create such effects, thanks!

    katie x

  • Oh, this is genius! I will definitely work like this in the future. Thank you for sharing!

  • This is great! I’m going to try this for sure!
    Where I’m from, it’s almost impossible to find filters now. I’ve been using different coloured sheer silk scarves. Which also works amazing by the way!

  • Such a great idea!
    I love little diy projects like this.
    Thanks for sharing 🙂

    xo Sari

  • This is such a cute and wonderful idea! I’m just getting hooked on photoshop myself after finally taking a class in it and am loving the worlds of possibilities that have opened up. But I do love the idea of doing some of these things in camera. Great post!


  • Oh yes, I will definitely be trying this one. how cute would it be to leave a big heart of clear in the middle?

  • oh, my beautiful things. this is such an exquisitely simple & darling idea… i’m in love!

  • This looks like it would be fun to try my hand at. I’ve only really begun to get into photography this year but have always appreciated the beauty and art behind it:)


  • These photos are great! I never would have thought of making your own filters. Great idea!!


  • I love these! Of course you an add all kinds of filters in Photoshop afterwards, but I love that it’s unpredictable and with a slightly different result each time. I will definitely give it a try!

  • I love transparency paper, there is no end to the fun you can have with it! I’m surprised that the lines didn’t come out at all when you took your photos; how clever! Can’t wait to try it, thanks for the inspiration as always…

  • I wonder how well that would work with a compact camera. I’ll have to have a go.

    A fun idea for sure 🙂


  • This is such a nice idea! I’m totally going to to this soon :), thanks! And I LOVE YOUR BLOG!

  • This is such a good idea! Definitely going to give this a go some time! thanks for sharing this


  • I love using self made camera filters, but something I am loving to use are things found in nature. Like shooting through different colored leaves. Have you ever tried that?


  • Wow, that’s a great idea! I never really thought about doing that before.. This is brilliant.

  • Thanks for sharing! This is a great idea, I’m always looking for new things in photography that are fun and affordable…this is perfect!

  • Um, WOW! This is so neat! I can’t wait to try it myself 🙂


  • Lovely idea. I might try using old transparent (coloured) sweetie wrappers to see what effects I can get.Rx


  • this is so clever! i adore this idea, will definitely have to try it. i think the results are beautiful!

  • cool idea! i’ll have to give it a whirl. like the old “sunglasses” trick.


  • How fun! I love how they turned out, especially the blue. Definitely going to try this.
    Catherine Denton

  • ooh, I totally need to try that! What a great idea! I love how the mustard and magenta turned out in photo form. Beautiful!

  • You could try holding the filters over your flash as well. I like using my Diana F+ flash color gels with my DSLR.

  • This is so cool and my favorite DIY yet! So inspiring and now on my to do list:)


  • This is so creative! I love my filters from photojojo, but I will definitely try this!

  • I love this idea! I love using filters on photoshop but now I really want to try it the “old fashioned way!”
    Can’t wait to try!


  • I love this idea…so much fun! Now where did I put my sharpies? Thanks for the great idea!

  • Ooh LOVE this idea! Going on a trip to CA and I’ll bring some along!

  • This is Genius! You girls always come up with something so Creative!!
    Thanks for sharing the goods 🙂

    Glorious Adornment

  • Love this idea. Might have to give it a try! Love how the first photo with Emma turned out.

  • How fun! I love the yellow-toned filters, especially that first photo!

    I’ll definitely have to try this – reminds me of something we would have done in photo class back in high school or college. 🙂


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