How to Make a Glitch Effect in Photoshop

By Tata Rossi 13 days ago, Photoshop Tips

Curious about how to make a glitch effect in Photoshop? Then this step-by-step guide will come in handy. We’ve described some useful yet simple tips on how to apply a glitch effect and make your photos more attractive.

You can see a glitch effect while watching TV or playing video games. However, this effect is present in any technology area. A glitch is a temporary digital or analog error. Initially, this error appeared in a picture with broken data. The effect consists of multi-colored pixels, lines of different sizes, frozen images, and distorted colors. Nowadays, you can create this effect in Photoshop in order to catch viewers’ attention.

Method 1. Through the Wave Filter

To get a simple Photoshop glitch effect, you can use the Wave Filter. This automated tool allows you to mimic an aesthetic image distortion in a few clicks.

STEP 1. Use Quick Selection Tool

First, select the Quick Selection Tool in the left sidebar. If you cannot locate it, right-click the Object Selection Tool and you can see a list of instruments to choose from.

quick selection tool in photoshop

Quick Selection helps you choose the desired subject. It might be any subject, e.g. a human, an animal, etc. Refine all edges to get a smoother selection.

STEP 2. Create a New Layer of Your Subject

You can choose ‘Layer Via Copy’ by right-clicking the selection. The option is necessary because you need to alter the selected subject.

layer via copy in photoshop

STEP 3. Adjust the Saturation

Select the Crop Tool on the left. Pull both sides a bit out so that there appear two stripes of the white background. They are needed for making a glitch Photoshop.

To get a monochromatic look, customize saturation. You can find the “Create new fill or adjustment layer” option in the right corner, under the layers panel. Click Hue/Saturation.

hue saturation in photoshop

There will appear a new layer above the others. Use the Saturation slider and push it to the left until most colors disappear from the photo.

saturation slider in photoshop

STEP 4. Adjust Contrast

To get the desired effect, you need to increase contrast. Click on the layer with the selected object, go to Filter> Camera Raw Filter and drag the sliders to adjust contrast.

camera raw filter in photoshop

STEP 5. Merge Layers

Once manipulations with the subject over, you can merge it with the background layer. To select both layers, click on them while holding down Ctrl on your keyboard. Right-clicking both pictures and choose ‘Merge Layers’.

merging layers in photoshop

STEP 6. Use the Rectangular Marquee Tool

On the left side panel, you need to click on the Rectangular Marquee Tool, which will help you create two thin selections at the top and bottom of the photo.

rectangular marquee tool in photoshop

Make the first selection and hold Shift to make the second selection in one go. Right-click the selection and choose “Layer Via Copy”.

layer via copy for glitch effect in photoshop

To adjust the selection, press Ctrl + T. Using arrows on the keyboard, you can move the stripes. Parts of the white background will be exposed.

adjust the selection for glitch effect in photoshop

Repeat the manipulation several times, experimenting with the size of the selection. When the process is complete, merge the new layers with a background one.

STEP 7. Duplicate the Background

Duplicate the background layer to reduce the amount of open space. Therefore, you can move the selection stripes on the layer, without affecting the background.

Be attentive not to distort the subject. Your main aim is to keep an original photo recognizable.

STEP 8. Create Wavy Glitch Distortion

Use keyboard shortcuts to merge layers in Photoshop easier. When you're done, duplicate the background layer. Use the Rectangular Marquee Tool as in the step above. Create a wavy effect on several large areas, choosing Filter> Distort> Wave tools.

wave glitch distortion in photoshop

STEP 9. Adjust the Needed Settings

You may need to use a trial-and-error approach to get the desired result. Don’t be to use and adjust the Wave Filter; the result is totally worth your effort.

settings for glitch effect in photoshop

STEP 10. Apply the Wave Filter to the Top and Bottom of the Photo

The final step of this Photoshop manipulation tutorial is to work on the top and bottom of the picture. Make selections in those areas and apply a bit stronger Wave filter.

wave filter for glitch effect in photoshop

Now the only thing that remains is to distort colors to get a lifelike glitch effect in Photoshop.

Method 2. 3D Glitch Effect Through Channel Panel by Color Distortion

Another way to create an interesting glitch Photoshop effect is to use color channels with different settings. You can use the RGB (red, green, blue) channels to adjust those colors separately. Thus, you can create a 3D effect and make a photo look professional.

STEP 1. Duplicate the Layer Two Times

Make three copies of the layer with all settings available. Right-click to select the “Duplicate Layer” option. Repeat the process several times until you get three layers along with the background.

duplicate layers for glitch effect in photoshop

When using the Wave effect, you can apply color distortion to one layer. The number of waves is demonstrated by the number of generators, while the waveform directly depends on its length and amplitude.

STEP 2. Edit the Blending Options for all Three Layers

Click on the first layer, right-click and select "Blending Options".

blending options for glitch effect in photoshop

Uncheck Green (g) in the Advanced Blending panel’s ‘Channels‘ bar.

advanced blending panel for glitch effect in photoshop

Select a Layer copy > uncheck Red (R)

advanced blending panel red for glitch effect in photoshop

Click on Layer copy 2 and uncheck both R and G.

advanced blending panel blue  for glitch effect in photoshop

When creating a glitch Photoshop effect, you can identify which color among three is more prominent. Besides, you can shift a less visible color channel. For instance, if blue predominates in the image, separate a blue channel to get a dramatic effect.

STEP 3. Move Each Layer to Create the 3D Glitch Effect

Move each layer individually to get a realistic glitch Photoshop effect. Select the top layer and hold down Ctrl + T to transform the layer. Use arrow keys on the keyboard for quick navigation.

3d glitch effect in photoshop

Do the same to the second layer, moving it in a different direction. You can move layers up and down but do it carefully not to distort the recognizability of a subject. Thus, you can make colors vivid and boost saturation a bit. 

Bonus Tools

bonus tools for photoshop

If you want to give your photo a little robotic, techno feel, ready-made collections of image editing tools will come in handy. By combining different effects and blending methods from these Photoshop tutorials, you can create eye-pleasing mechanical and edgy distortion.

Nowadays, adding analog or digital distortion is a popular way to make a photo stylish and convey a special atmosphere.