Lynn Simon

It’s Not Just a Cat Toy

If he’s honest with himself, the cat will admit that this toilet paper tube is now 100% more entertaining than it was when he first started playing with it. (When it was still just a tube. That’s so boring. We can do better than that.)


I made that spiraling dangly thing just for him. Is he grateful? Not that I can tell.

The above photograph was bad from the start (poor lighting), and I over-brightened and over-sharpened it in Photoshop, just to make it somewhat viewable. Anyway, it’s still a bad photo, but something about it started to intrigue me. I liked the shapes, and the shadow of the spiral.

I decided to mess around with Photoshop filters. The Cutout filter yielded this…


…which was kind of interesting, but not enough on its own. I took the Cutout file and copied it into a file with the original photo. With the Cutout on a layer above the original, and the Blending mode set to Multiply, I ended up with this:


Which is an improvement on the original, I think. The same file, but with the Blending Mode set to Exclusion results in this:



Returning to the original photo, I used a filter that I have never had any success with. The Stained Glass filter. Always a disaster. So, why even bother trying it? That’s the triumph of hope over experience. And…


OMG! I really kind of love that!

Every time I use Photoshop filters I hear voices in my head, the clamor of professionals saying, Take a competent picture to begin with! Filters are cheating! And I get what they’re saying. I really do.

On the other hand, this started out as a toilet paper tube. You know?

This entry was published on February 18, 2013 at 8:17 pm. It’s filed under cats, paper project, Photoshop and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

71 thoughts on “It’s Not Just a Cat Toy

  1. If your cat is anything like mine, the photos will give him more enjoyment as he views it from atop your keyboard :D Love it!

  2. This is such a fun creative post…..I love your complicated squiggles, even if your cat isn’t impressed :-)

  3. what a clever cat you are – unique post and toilet roll tube

  4. It’s not just a cat toy. It’s art!

  5. These pics take a toilet paper tube to a whole new level! I really like the blue background pic.

  6. Well done experimenting

  7. My cat loves this post!

  8. Hate cats. Like you. Love this post.

  9. Very cool. I don’t have cats, anymore. But I do tend to have an excess of small children around me almost all of the time. They love toilet paper tubes. LOVE THEM. I showed my son (he’s four) your stained-glass pic and he said, “COOLIO!” which is about as high of praise that anyone can possibly earn from him. So, kudos to you. It’s not cheating when it’s awesome :-)

  10. Fun stuff. :) Enjoyed your post. :)

  11. hahaha too cool. I like, I like. :)

  12. I love working with photoshop filters, especially in layers. Tony

    • They’re so versatile, and capable of so many different effects. I can get lost in all the possibilities.

      • If carefully used and layered with intervening layers of misty white you can get alternating effects some areas affected by the filter, others not. I love using them for the unexpected results. After a while I can predict what is likely to happen and so aim to get a particular result. Keep up the good work! I love the paper cut. Tony

  13. Nice! I do not have a cat or children but if md when i do, i know what to look for. Never it before.

  14. *done it before.

  15. pennyfields on said:

    Cats just never seem to appreciate hard work, do they?
    I’m not even going to pretend to understand Photoshop so I’ll just stick with saying that the third one’s my favourite because it’s oddly pretty…

    Have a good day :)

  16. That’s really cool! you may just inspire me to take up teaching myself photoshop again…

  17. I like it. Fun photography and …You’ve inspired me to make yet another cat toy!

  18. Very cool. Did your cat ever play with the prototype? :)

  19. writermomangela on said:

    Tell the voices to hush, photoshop is kinda fun. ;)

  20. ohtallulah on said:

    I wish someone had told me when i first got my cat to never spend money of toys!
    If your cat never played with the toy then at least you took some nifty photos! (though i do hope the kitty at least looked at your fun creation)
    As soon as i touch anything that my cats had previously found amusing it instantly kills the joy for them…I wonder if it’s me? :P
    Great post! :)


  21. Now we need to see a picture of your cat playing with it!

  22. Al Kline on said:

    Nice paper post done electronically.

  23. I really love how that last one turned out! Thanks for this post. It reminded me that sometimes simple is best when it comes to toys for my cats!

  24. I will share this with my students. Loved the concept of simplicity morphed into complexity using filters. I think you just inspired a great lesson for us using after effects…thank you!

  25. Wonderful photographs.

    My cat would destroy that in about five minutes. And not be the slightest bit grateful either.

  26. Your cat will never admit it, but deep down I’m sure he appreciated with a smirk the potential you saw and he never saw coming in that dead toilet role and the awesomeness you ventured out to create with it.

  27. StrayNoMore on said:

    I don’t think that manipulating photography through the use of Photoshop filter is cheating. how we interpret the photo and transform it is the process of art itself. Nice transformations and great descriptions.

  28. I love it when a cat owner have more fun with the toys than the cat! I think this is actually a really neat idea.

  29. Great post! You are quite the artist :) And congratulations on being freshly pressed!

  30. Huh. Why doesn’t my cat have amazing toilet paper roll art toys?

    I will make it so.

  31. Pingback: Freshly Riffed 21: This Just Got Weird | A VERY STRANGE PLACE

  32. So now my mind is hovering over the idea of your cat in photoshop with lots of different filters, maybe with the cat toy superimposed over the cat… (I’m with you, by the way, the mosaic filter is generally a disaster. That said I think you’ve used it well here.)

  33. Oooo! I might have to try that! Cutting up the tube into a dangly, squiggly thing, I mean. Yes, I actually try to gain my cats’ approval with new playthings…I only wish I had Photoshop to play with for myself! Very creative post!

  34. If you can duplicate that again, you’ve got art! I almost got into photography…but now I write, then take a few photos every once in a while.

  35. I really like your blog and would love you to feature on mine, All you have to do is write five suggestions along with a link back to your site. Please check out the blog and see the sort of things people have written about. It wont cost you anything and your post will be on a google ranked 3 site. Many Thanks. David

  36. “Take a competent picture to begin with” – RIGHT?! I love listening to podcasts about photography especially food photography butttttt…it’s kind of soul/dream crushing. I love your zest for experimenting both with photography and with cat toys. Rock on!

  37. so much fun!!. i had no idea you could do this with photoshop. Some of these look like prints! Yum.:)

  38. I struggle with, (is it) “guilt”, every time I go to the filters!! I believe I am a Digital “Artist”. Is changing a photograph, taken by me, and altered by my use of amazing digital tools, a trick, a gimmick, a bad act? I am being dramatic because I’ve read posts that say, “Just Take the damn picture, or how about, “Some people should not be allowed to use Photoshop.”

    Well, I do and I will continue. If what I produce/create is not your cup of java, move on. If you like it…all the better.

    I love the effects you achieved with the “cut out” filter and I want to try the blending mode using Exclusion too! Great post!

    Judy, aka The Lioness
    My Art Cards can be visited on my blog, CardTales By The Lioness

  39. jfoe1980 on said:

    Just give him a twist tie from a loaf of bread, highlighters, or a rubber band.

  40. hahaha. very inventive!! i just get a piece of string and run around the house while it runs along after it…. cats are adorable

  41. lensaddiction on said:

    Love the stained glass image. I used to be a bit of a purist about editing and enhancing images but I did a workshop with Trey Ratcliff last year and learned a lot about how to improve an image. How much you apply it makes a difference, and you can get a nice effect without it screaming OMG I USED PHOTOSHOP!! Course, knowing when to draw the line is the hard part :)

    Congrats on FP

  42. Cool Work!!

  43. The toilet paper roll is the greatest invention in the history of mankind. That little cardboard tube provides hours of amusement to my dogs. I save them up and when they get two in a row, it’s like Christmas. Great, creative post :)

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