DIY Rainbow Polka Dot Filters: Pot of Gold Not Included


Add some color and design to your photos with these easy-peasy, printable DIY Rainbow Polka Dot Filters. All the steps, tips, and tricks from someone who’s made it to the other side of the rainbow.

Credits: sixsixty

What you’ll need:

  • Transparency Paper. They make these for either inkjet or laserjet printers. I only have a color laserjet, however I think these filters would work even better with an inkjet printer. Please get the paper that matches your printer type.
  • Color printer. If you don’t have one, just go over to someone’s house that does! Note: You should probably ask beforehand.
  • Photoshop. You don’t need photoshop, but this tutorial covers how to make the polka dots in Photoshop.
  • Scissors. Tape. Cardboard. Some sweet tunes to work to.

First, I’ll go over making the Rainbow Polka Dot pattern.

If you’re not one to follow “the rules” feel free to mess around with Photoshop for different effects. And, stick it to the man! Check out the images below for more information.

  • Create a new document the size you want to print. I just chose the default U.S. Paper Letter which is 8.5 × 11.
  • Select the Gradient Tool. Then in the Gradient Tool menu select one of the patterns, I chose spectrum.
  • With the Gradient Tool draw your first spectrum. You may want to experiment with different sizes and lengths especially if you are using 120 and 35mm films.
  • Create a few more layers and draw more gradients. You can make them all the same size or try out a few different lengths. When done, flatten the image, this will help out in later steps.
  • At this point you could print this out as one filter option. It may help to try printing these at different opacities to change the strength of the color in the final picture.
  • In addition to a gradient you can turn this into solid colors by applying Posterize to this image. Image→Adjustments→Posterize. Play around with the level of Posterize—I used 2.
  • One way to make the polka dots is to open up a new document the same size as the previous one. Then with the paint bucket tool just make the whole thing a gray color. You want to make a mid level gray, I found different shades make different dots, so you might want to play around with that too.
  • Next, change this document to a bitmap. Image→Mode→Bitmap. You might have to change the image to an 8bit Grayscale first, then to a bitmap.
  • When making a bitmap be sure to choose method→ Halftone. Then you can play around with the next screen but I chose Frequency 5, Angle 45, Shape Round.
  • You should now have a page full of dots or something that looks close to dots. If not, try a different shade of gray or learn to love the Frankenstein’s monster you’ve now created. Now copy the whole page of dots and paste that whole page on top of your rainbow gradient image.
  • Select everything that is not a dot by going to Select→Color Range. Then Select Shadows. This will select everything that is black on this Layer. You can now delete this dots layer.
  • While the selection is still active go to the rainbow layer and hit delete. This should now leave you with a page of rainbow polka dots! YAY!
  • Print this masterpiece out! Be sure to play around with different opacities, shapes, sizes and masks.

Now that you have a printed mask it’s time to cut those up and get them in your camera.

  • I found that these work best Inside the camera. So open up your camera of choice (I used a Lubitel 166+ and a Sprocket Rocket) and then cut a rainbow pattern to fit right in front of where the film goes.
  • Tape the filter in well! This is important, my first roll the filter came off halfway through and ended up getting sucked into the roll of film! Also be sure that the filter doesn’t interfere with any moving camera parts.
  • Shoot! This might take a roll or two to experiment with. Try shooting different things, I found brighter days work best, and shots with plenty of sky in them really highlight the colors. Try bigger or smaller gradients, different patterns, different opacities and different films!
  • Finally be sure to post your images on your lomo home and tag them with DIYFILTER (one word) so we can all search for them and see what amazing images you come up with!
Credits: sixsixty

written by sixsixty on 2012-07-09 #gear #tutorials #diy #rainbow #tutorial #filter #tipster #dots #polka-dots #handcraft #handicraft #select-type-of-tipster #select-what-this-tipster-is-about #diyfilter


  1. scarletmind
    scarletmind ·

    wow! very original!! :D

  2. kekskonstrukt
    kekskonstrukt ·

    awesome! must try this immediately! ;)

  3. sixsixty
    sixsixty ·

    @kekskonstrukt Yay! Can't wait to see what awesome shots you come up with!

  4. jaszee
    jaszee ·

    WOAH!! been wanting to do this however mine came out fail each time!! NOW I SHALL GET BACK AND WORK ON IT! Thanks!

  5. sapphire-st
    sapphire-st ·

    had been wanting to try these out for a long time now! - thanks!

  6. djramsay
    djramsay ·

    fantastic idea

  7. neanderthalis
    neanderthalis ·

    That is super cool! I want to try it myself.

  8. buckshot
    buckshot ·

    Funky filters! And congrats on a very entertainingly written article! It seems there's been a bit of a rainbow theme going on in the community over the past few days. This was my contribution, from Friday:… It has to be said, with a summer as grim as this one has been so far (at least in England), anything that adds a bit of colour is welcome, right? ;-)

  9. sixsixty
    sixsixty ·

    @jaszee Good Luck! Let me know if you need any extra tips or pointers. You got this!!

  10. sixsixty
    sixsixty ·

    @neanderthalis I hope you try it! Can't wait to see what shots you come up with. And, don't forget to tag your shots with DIYFILTER.

  11. sixsixty
    sixsixty ·

    @buckshot yeah totally been a bunch of rainbow stuff lately. Luckily they are all slightly different. I'm excited for people to try them all!

  12. jaszee
    jaszee ·

    HAH! Printing mine now. !:D thanks for the awesome tips! im sure will let u see the results.
    By the way.. i cant seem to make lots of rainbow in diff layers.

  13. ester_s_ch
    ester_s_ch ·

    Espectacular !!!!!

  14. lomographysf
    lomographysf ·


  15. sixsixty
    sixsixty ·

    @jaszee Great Catch! make one layer rainbow. then the next layer make it in about the same spot, then move the entire layer down. repeat and you should be able to have multi rainbow layers showing. or just duplicate the rainbow layer and then move it down. then you can resize those layers if you want a bigger or smaller rainbow.

  16. jaszee
    jaszee ·

    @sixsixty AHH!! That explains it! *facepalm. HHAHAHAHA THANK YOU! :D

  17. gendis
    gendis ·

    love it

  18. radiactive
    radiactive ·


  19. mensa
    mensa ·

    finally! thank you!! :D

  20. marissa
    marissa ·

    Very cool! I will translate it in Dutch! (But not now.. Friday (-: )

  21. blinghaha
    blinghaha ·

    Fantastic, might try with sweet wrappers!

  22. sixsixty
    sixsixty ·

    @blinghaha Great idea! Can't wait to see how those come out!

  23. sixsixty
    sixsixty ·

    @marissa Very Cool!!!

  24. m_e
    m_e ·

    I will try this asap....great Idea!:)

  25. quietedheart
    quietedheart ·

    This is so cool!

  26. zynneh
    zynneh ·

    I've put all sorts of things in my cameras, but I never thought to make a filter in photoshop... G'uh!

  27. sixsixty
    sixsixty ·

    @zynneh Soo much more I want to try with these cameras! I think my next experiment is going to glue little figures inside my diana.

  28. jasmijn
    jasmijn ·

    This is awesome!

  29. wzzk
    wzzk ·

    very great article, thanks for posting it!

  30. sixsixty
    sixsixty ·

    @wzzk Thanks! I'm glad you liked it!

  31. 110isnotdead
    110isnotdead ·

    That is awesome, I'm gonna go home and fiddle around with this 2nite. Thanks alot. :)

  32. sixsixty
    sixsixty ·

    @110isnotdead Nice! I've very excited to see what you shoot!

  33. mafiosa
    mafiosa ·

    Excellent technique and effect. Now i'm motivated to buy a printer.

  34. dearjme
    dearjme ·

    I will try this! Well... the transparencies. Perhaps i'll do a different mask print. But love your thorough tips :)

  35. sixsixty
    sixsixty ·

    @dearjme Thanks! I'm excited to see what filters you come up with!

  36. megzeazez
    megzeazez ·

    Love the results!!

  37. arigatomrrobato
    arigatomrrobato ·

    Cant wait to try this!

  38. sixsixty
    sixsixty ·

    @arigatomrrobato I can see you taking some seriously beautiful shots with these filters.

  39. zynneh
    zynneh ·

    @sixsixty I'm not sure I could bring myself to glue anything in! I've got filters in the Diana & Holga now though :D

  40. epfencer
    epfencer ·

    love the effect!

  41. reiga
    reiga ·

    this is nice, love it

  42. jasminfish
    jasminfish ·

    I love it! this is crazy! this could change lives hahaha LOMO ON

  43. sixsixty
    sixsixty ·

    @jasminfish it does change lives! it also cures hiccups and opens tiny portals.

  44. shea_w
    shea_w ·

    Wow great idea! Imma gonna start one!

  45. jetnz81
    jetnz81 ·

    Woo~ thanks for sharing ^^ Great

  46. dietmtndew
    dietmtndew ·

    amazing tipster. can't wait to try it next time i get some color film. Now i wonder if i can print photoshop filters?

  47. twinklecat
    twinklecat ·

    awesomeness! totally inspiring!

  48. klaryssa
    klaryssa ·


  49. astilla
    astilla ·

    nice! :) great tipster!

  50. tonysykes
    tonysykes ·

    Bloody brilliant!

  51. schlogoat
    schlogoat ·

    I couldn't make this work! For one, my dots were black on white instead of white on black like yours, but I could invert that. For another, if you flatten the image after you've made your gradient layers, how can you delete that layer at the end? And after the Colour Range>Shadows selection, I had a page of moving dots!- the dot outlines were flickering across the page. Weird? Must've missed something.

  52. sixsixty
    sixsixty ·

    @schlogoat you're soo closes! 1) For the dots being black on white or white on black, that doesn't really matter, we are only using this to create a selection. so you can select the black being the dots or the white being the dots, it works either way. you could also just select whatever is black and then under selection invert it, or I think it's option-i to do that. 2) you want to flatten the gradient layer, just as long as you aren't flattening it into what photoshop calls the "background" layer. And when we delete that layer, what i mean is we are deleting the selection in that layer and making that selection transparent. When you have the page of moving dots, that moving dots is actually a mask. and when that mask is on the gradient layer and you hit delete, it deletes everything in that mask and leaves the rest. I could also just send you the file of rainbow dots too if you need.

  53. aaron_anderer
    aaron_anderer ·

    I just gave your method a try last week. Wow, I love the results!

  54. sixsixty
    sixsixty ·

    @aaron_anderer awesome!!! those came out fun!

  55. herbert-4
    herbert-4 ·

    Wonderful!!! article. I will mess with this. I have GIMP, though, but I can still do that, I think. Have a look at this...… and enjoy.

  56. nike-liscaljet
    nike-liscaljet ·

    definitely gonna try this one!

  57. giuliabocchese
    giuliabocchese ·


  58. giuliabocchese
    giuliabocchese ·


  59. wendylaurel
    wendylaurel ·

    id like to make the plain striped rainbow one you show but cannot figure out how? do you have a template or instructions for that one?

  60. newfilmuser
    newfilmuser ·

    What color profile in photoshop did you use?

  61. leisuresuit
    leisuresuit ·

    Super cool!

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