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How to Create a Distorted Blur Photo Effect in Photoshop

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Final product imageFinal product imageFinal product image
What You'll Be Creating

Do you want to learn how to get a rainbow distortion effect on pictures? Today, I will show you a simple way to create a Photoshop zoom blur effect with glitchy colorful edges. This effect is inspired by DanceXL Radio/Playlist from Apple Music.

If you want to find the easiest way to add a zoom burst effect in Photoshop, take a look at this beautiful action, which will convert your images into amazing artwork with almost no effort. All the layers and colors of the final result are fully editable, so you will be able to change the colors and all the elements of the effect.

zoom blur photoshop actionzoom blur photoshop actionzoom blur photoshop action
Zoom Blur Photoshop Action (ATN)

If you prefer to learn via video, watch how to get the rainbow distortion effect on pictures on our Envato Tuts+ YouTube Channel:

What You Will Learn in This Rainbow Distortion Photoshop Tutorial

  • How to prepare the document for the zoom blur Photoshop effect
  • How to create a rainbow distortion Photoshop effect
  • How to add light leaks to a rainbow distortion Photoshop effect

Tutorial Assets

The following assets were used during the production of this tutorial:

1. How to Prepare the Document for a Blur Edges Photoshop Effect

Step 1

Before creating our Photoshop zoom blur effect, let's prepare all the elements of the composition. Create a new document with a size of 2000 x 2000 px and Background Contents set to Black.

creating a new document with black backgroundcreating a new document with black backgroundcreating a new document with black background

Step 2

Let's go to File > Place and put your image in the document.

placing the image to the documentplacing the image to the documentplacing the image to the document

Step 3

Select your photo in the Layers panel, and then go to Select > Subject.

selecting subjectselecting subjectselecting subject

Step 4

Refine the selection using the Lasso Tool (L). Hold Shift to expand the selection or Alt to decrease it.

refining the selectionrefining the selectionrefining the selection

Step 5

Press Control-J to cut the image, and then delete the Photo layer.

cutting our the imagecutting our the imagecutting our the image

Step 6

Select the image and press Shift-Control-Alt-B (or go to Image > Adjustments > Black and White) and hit OK to apply the Black and White filter.

applying the black and white filterapplying the black and white filterapplying the black and white filter

Step 7

Let's go to Image > Adjustments > Brightness/Contrast and set Brightness to 80 and Contrast to 35.

increasing brightness and contrastincreasing brightness and contrastincreasing brightness and contrast

Step 8

Create two duplicates by pressing Control-J and rename the layers to Red, Green, and Blue.

creating duplicates of the layercreating duplicates of the layercreating duplicates of the layer

Step 9

Double-Click on the Red layer, and then Uncheck all the Channels except the Red.

uncheck the red channeluncheck the red channeluncheck the red channel

Step 10

Leave only the Green Channel visible on the Green layer and only the Blue Channel visible on the Blue layer.

making the channels invisiblemaking the channels invisiblemaking the channels invisible

Step 11

Create any text you want to use, and then Right-Click > Rasterize Type in the Layers panel.

creating and rasterizing the textcreating and rasterizing the textcreating and rasterizing the text

Step 12

Create two duplicates of the layer, and rename them to Red, Green, and Blue. After that, Uncheck the Channels as we did before.

creating and rasterizing textcreating and rasterizing textcreating and rasterizing text

2. How to Create a Rainbow Distortion Photoshop Effect

Step 1

Now, we need to take Smudge Tool with Soft Round Tip and Size set to about 400 px and Strength to 50%.

setting up the smudge tool brush tipsetting up the smudge tool brush tipsetting up the smudge tool brush tip

Step 2

Select first the Red layer and start using the Smudge Tool to create a blur edges Photoshop effect.

smudging the red layersmudging the red layersmudging the red layer

This is how your image should look:

red channel smudged previewred channel smudged previewred channel smudged preview

Step 3

Once you've finished with the red layer, use the same technique for the Green and Blue layers.

result of smudging of layersresult of smudging of layersresult of smudging of layers

Step 4

Select all the photo layers and Right-Click > Convert to Smart Object.

converting layers to a smart objectsconverting layers to a smart objectsconverting layers to a smart objects

Step 5

Let's go to Filter > Blur Gallery > Tilt Shift and set the Blur to 15.

adding tilt shift effectadding tilt shift effectadding tilt shift effect

Step 6

Now we need to drag the lines of the Tilt Shift filter frame, as you can see below:

setting up the blur framesetting up the blur framesetting up the blur frame

Step 7

Add one more blur edges Photoshop effect with a Tilt Shift filter. Set the Blur to 15, as we did before, and then Rotate the filter to 90°.

adding second tilt shift effectadding second tilt shift effectadding second tilt shift effect

Step 8

Select the Smart Filters Mask and paint the areas where you want to decrease the blur effect with a soft black brush.

removing the blur effect intensityremoving the blur effect intensityremoving the blur effect intensity

Step 9

After that, you need to smudge the text layers, just as we did with the picture. But take a smaller brush tip and try to add less effect to the center of the text and more to the edges.

smudging the text layersmudging the text layersmudging the text layer

Step 10

After that, convert the text layer to a Smart Object and add a Tilt Shift with the Blur set to 10, and set the blur frame as below:

adding tilt shift effect to a text layeradding tilt shift effect to a text layeradding tilt shift effect to a text layer

3. How to Add Light Leaks to a Rainbow Distortion Photoshop Effect

Step 1

Now, let's create some cool rainbow light leaks! Open the Color Picker Tool in the Tools panel, and then set the Color Code to #8818e5. After that, press Add to Swatches.

Adding first color to the swatchesAdding first color to the swatchesAdding first color to the swatches

Step 2

Add the following color codes the same way:

  • 1c30f7
  • 16e2f9
  • 53f51f
  • f5f20c
  • f38308
  • f80a12
adding color codes to the swatchesadding color codes to the swatchesadding color codes to the swatches

Step 3

Select the background layer and the first Smart Object layer, and then Right-Click > Convert to a Smart Object.

creating last smart objectcreating last smart objectcreating last smart object

Step 4

Double-Click on the Smart Object to open it, and then create a new layer by pressing Shift-Control-Alt-N.

creating a new layercreating a new layercreating a new layer

Step 5

Take a Soft Round Brush and create a stroke with the colors from our swatches, just like in the picture below:

creating the first light leakcreating the first light leakcreating the first light leak

Step 6

Create another stroke the same way.

creating the second light leakcreating the second light leakcreating the second light leak

Step 7

Go to Filter > Blur > Motion Blur and set the Angle to 30 and Distance to 1400 px.

adding motion blur effectadding motion blur effectadding motion blur effect

Step 8

Put the light leaks layer below your image and create a few copies by pressing Control-J.

creating copies of the light leakcreating copies of the light leakcreating copies of the light leak

Step 9

Close and Save the Smart Object, and then go to Filter > Noise > Add Noise and set the Amount to 8% and Distribution to Gaussian.

adding noise filter to the smart objectadding noise filter to the smart objectadding noise filter to the smart object

Step 10

Add a Noise Filter to the text layer with the same setting, and this is how our image should look now:

image with the noise filters appliedimage with the noise filters appliedimage with the noise filters applied

Step 11

Let's apply a black folded paper texture overlay to our artwork! Place Paper Texture 25 above all the layers, and then change its Blending Mode to Screen and the Opacity to about 50%.

placing the paper texture above all the layersplacing the paper texture above all the layersplacing the paper texture above all the layers

Awesome Work, You're Now Done!

final image in a mock upfinal image in a mock upfinal image in a mock up
Get your Photoshop zoom blur design on a vinyl mockup like this one!

Today you've learned how to get a rainbow distortion effect on pictures in Photoshop with only standard tools. I hope you enjoyed the tutorial, and if you are wondering where I got this amazing vinyl mockup, check out Placeit! Here you will find hundreds of mockups, templates, logos, and anything else you may need for your next design project.

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Beautiful Actions and Presets From Envato Elements

Now I would like to recommend some beautiful actions and presets available on Envato Elements.

Zoom Blur Photoshop Action (ATN)

Want to add a zoom burst effect in Photoshop in a few simple clicks? Check out this amazing action, which will create professional-looking visual effects. Try to use it for creating wallpaper, backgrounds, artworks, and much more!

Zoom blur photoshop actionZoom blur photoshop actionZoom blur photoshop action

Glitch Ghost Photo Effect (PSD)

Want to add color glitches to your photos? This effect is inspired by rave and techno parties and cyberpunk vibes. It can be really useful for creating posters, flyers, and social media content! It includes a high-quality, well-layered, and fully editable PSD file with detailed instructions.

Glitch ghost photo effectGlitch ghost photo effectGlitch ghost photo effect

Lens Distortion Image Effect (PSD)

Another handy effect! This one will help you to add a lens distortion effect to any of your photos or even text. This PSD template has clearly organized and fully customizable layers. You will also find a help guide with all the information you need for a quick start.

Lens distortion image effectLens distortion image effectLens distortion image effect

Triplex Glitch Photo Effect (PSD)

Want something more glitchy and colorful? Try this psychedelic Photoshop effect! Create vintage or futuristic projects: web design elements, banners, posters, or social media posts! In the main archive, you will find a hi-res (4500x3000 px) template, overlay texture, and help file.

Triplex glitch photo effectTriplex glitch photo effectTriplex glitch photo effect

Modern Glitch Instagram Stories Template (PSD, PDF)

If you need some glitchy effects for your Instagram stories, check out this great template with ten unique presets and ten overlay VHS textures. It's extremely easy to use, and all effects are non-destructive and fully adjustable.

Now that you know how to create a rainbow distortion Photoshop effect, you probably want to learn more cool effects. Check out these great tutorials:

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