How to Create an Infrared Glow Effect in Photoshop

In this tutorial, we’ll learn how to create an infrared glow effect in Photoshop quickly. We will do it non-destructively so that our effect will be completely editable.
 infrared glow
You’ll need:
  • Adobe Photoshop CS6 (any other recent version will work too)
Step 1
Open your image in Photoshop.
 infrared glow original
We will apply the glow effect and infrared effect separately. Adding an infrared effect is easy. Firstly, click on the Black & White icon in the Adjustments panel.
 infrared glow black and white
 infrared glow black and white result
Now, go to the Properties panel and change your Black & White adjustment layer’s Preset to Infrared.
 infrared glow preset infrared
 infrared glow preset infrared result
In my image, the trees and grass have become a bit too bright. To fix this, go to the Properties panel and drag the Greens and Yellows sliders (since grass and trees contain green and yellow colors) towards the left. You can adjust the brightness of any area by dragging the appropriate color slider.
 infrared glow color sliders
 infrared glow color sliders result
Step 2
Now, we will work on our glow effect. Select the background color, right-click (Windows) / control-click (Macs) on it and select Convert to Smart Object. Set the foreground and background colors as black and white by pressing D. Next, select Filter > Filter Gallery and choose Diffuse Glow from the Distort folder.
 infrared glow diffuse glow
The Graininess slider controls the amount of film grain in the image, the Glow Amount slider controls the intensity and strength of the glow, and the Clear Amount slider controls the tonal range affected by the glow. You might want to play around with the sliders a bit till you get the desired effect.
 infrared glow diffuse glow sliders
 infrared glow diffuse glow result
Step 3
If needed, lower the opacity of the Diffuse Glow filter. In my image, the filter has blown out the detail in the water and sky, so I’ll be lowering its opacity. To do so, double-click on the Blending Options icon.
 infrared glow blending options
I’m reducing the opacity to 75%.
 infrared glow opacity
 infrared glow opacity result
Step 4
Finally, we will bring back a teensy-weensy bit of the original image’s color. Select the Black & White adjustment layer and lower its opacity to 90%.
 infrared glow black and white opacity
And we’re done!
 infrared glow


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