Knowing how to create a simple glitch effect in Photoshop can completely transform the look and feel of an image. It allows you to add a tech or futuristic look with minimal effort. You can apply the glitch effect to pretty much any image you’re working with, you just need to know how to do it.

There are three main steps to creating a glitch effect in Photoshop. These are slicing and moving small parts of the image aside, adding a red/blue effect, and overlaying scan lines. That’s what we’re going to do here, using simple Photoshop tools and a free stock image.

Step 1 – Image Prep

First I’m going to set up my document. I’m going to open up a Photoshop document with a canvas size of 1920 pixels by 1080 pixels in RGB. Next, I’m going to drag in my image. I’m using a free stock photo from Unsplash that you can download here. This image is already a little techy, so it will work well with the glitch effect.

Photoshop glitch effect step 1

Step 2 – Slicing The Image

The first thing I’m going to do before altering the image in any way is to duplicate it. We’re going to need the original image intact for later. Click on the main layer, then right-click and hit Duplicate Layer or press Ctrl J to duplicate the image.

Now we’re going to start editing the top layer. Using the Rectangular Marquee tool, make a bunch of random, tiny rectangular selections in your image. Holding Shift will allow you to make multiple, independent selections. Make some larger rectangles and some smaller ones. You want something that looks totally random. I’m making about 40 rectangles.

Photoshop glitch effect step 2

Photoshop glitch effect step 2

Once you’re happy with your rectangular selections, hit Ctrl T to transform, then move your rectangles to the right and up a few pixels. I’m moving mine about 2 inches to the right, then up by only a pixel or two. Hit enter when you’re done. If you still have the original image visible below this layer, you might not notice much of a difference. If you hide the original layer, you can see your edits a bit better.

Photoshop glitch effect step 2 - rectangles

Step 3 – Adding Red/Blue Effect

This step is probably the most important when creating a glitch effect in Photoshop. We’re going to add a red/blue effect. To do this, make sure both your layers are visible. Select your top layer, where you’ve made the rectangles, and double click on that layer. This brings up the Layer Style panel. On the main Blending Options tab, go down to Advanced Blending and uncheck the R channel.

Photoshop glitch effect step 3

Photoshop glitch effect step 3 - channel

Hit OK then click on the Move tool. Now we’re going to move the top layer to reveal the main part of our glitch effect. With your edited layer selected, move it slightly to the right or left. Either way works. I’m moving my layer a few pixels to the right and up a few as well.

Photoshop glitch effect step 3 -move layer

Step 4 – Adding Scan Lines

This part is probably the easiest and really pulls the whole look together. It adds a bit of retro to the glitch effect. To add scan lines, the easiest way is to simply double click on the layer we’ve been working on so far to open up the Layer Style panel once again. Next, go down to the Pattern Overlay tab and select the Horizontal Line pattern at a scale close to 150. This is one of the default patterns that comes with Photoshop.

Photoshop glitch effect step 4 - Pattern Overlay

After you have a pattern overlay on your image, we can play with the Blend Mode options in the same area. I’m using Multiply because the scan lines are subtle.

Photoshop glitch effect step 4 - Multiply

Next, just hit OK and the image is pretty much done. You can go back to either of your layers here and make minor adjustments to get the desired effect.

Step 5 – Finishing Touches

The last thing you may want to do is either crop the entire canvas a little on the left or blow up your layers slightly to get rid of the awkward bit you see on the left side of the image. I’m going to select both layers, hit Ctrl T to transform, then bring the top left corner out a bit until the awkward part is gone. And now we’re done!

Photoshop glitch effect - Final Image

Optional Edits

If you want to make any further adjustments you can play with some of the settings to get the exact look you’re after. If you want a more monochromatic look or want to use a different colour palatte, for example, you can click on your top layer then go to Image > Adjustments > Hue/Saturation and play around with the hue or saturation. Adjusting the hue will alter the colours throughout the entire image and dropping the saturation value will remove some of the colour from the image.

I’m dropping the hue by 15 and decreasing saturation by 45. This slightly changes the colour values in my image and removes some of the colour.

Photoshop glitch effect - Adjusted

A Simple Glitch Effect in Photoshop – In Summary

Hopefully this tutorial was easy to follow and gave you a quick way to start making a glitch effect in Photoshop. Experiment with different imagery using this glitch effect and see what you can create.

Is there anything else you would add to this tutorial to improve the glitch effect? Is there anything that could be done differently? Is there another type of Photoshop effect you want to see me do a tutorial on? Let me know in the comments 🙂

Photoshop glitch effect - Final Image Edited

More Photoshop Tutorials

Here are some of my other Photoshop tutorial posts if you’re interested:

Some of the video tutorials I’ve done for Photoshop:

If you want to learn more about Photoshop check out the official Adobe Photoshop Classroom in a Book.

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Photo Credits

Photo by Lucas Gouvêa on Unsplash