How to Make an Orton Glow

Sometimes you may want to create a dreamy, surreal effect in your images, almost like a Lord of The Rings style rendering. One easy way of doing this is by using the Orton Effect in Photoshop. This isn’t a built-in PS function – we have to do it ourselves. And this tutorial will show you how to quickly and easily create the Orton Effect in Photoshop.

What is the Orton Effect?

Essentially, the Orton Effect gently blurs your image to give a dream-like quality. It is commonly used among landscape photographers, and was a fairly popular, but over-used, process in portrait photography.

I often apply this effect to some of my images and there are a few different ways of creating this effect. In this article I will show you the specific technique that I follow to apply the Orton effect to my images.

Essentially, the Orton effect gently blurs your image to give a dream-like / glow quality and it is being commonly used among landscape photographers.

To create the Orton effect in Photoshop is a very simple process that I will describe in 4 steps as follows:


Orton Glow and No GlowBefore and after the Orton Glow

As you can see, this effect

How To Create The Orton Effect in Photoshop

The Orton Glow can be one of the simplest effects to do in Photoshop. It is very short, but also extremely effective.

1. Firstly, duplicate your Background Layer. Do this by right clicking on it and choosing Duplicate Layer. A new layer will appear called Background Copy.

2. Now go to Image>Apply Image. A dialogue box will appear. Make sure to change the Layer to Background. The Channel should already be on RGB, and where it says Normal, next to Blending, change that to Screen and press OK.


3. Duplicate the Background Copy layer. Now we need to blur this new, top layer, which should be called Background Copy 2. Go to Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur. The Radius you choose here is dependent on the size of the file you are working on. For this image, which is 5,184px wide, the Radius was set to 22.


4. Select both of the Duplicate layers, go to Layers>Merge Layers, to collapse these into 1 layer. Now go to the Blend Mode of this layer and change it to Multiply. This will create the Orton Effect.

5. Reduce the Opacity of this layer as you like it.

Tip 1: Try to be selective in how you apply the Orton Effect. It can soften important textures and fine detail which adds to the image. In this case, mask it out of the areas you don’t want it to be applied. For the image in this tutorial, the effect was not applied to the wall on the left, the sky, or the hills and trees in the distance.

Tip 2: Control your colours! You tend to find after this effect that your colours have become strongly saturated, like the greens in the image above. Be aware of whether or not that is enhancing or degrading your image.