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How to Create an Orton Effect Photoshop Action

Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

Photoshop actions are the fastest way to add complex Photoshop effects to your images. In this tutorial I will show you how to create an action to add the popular Orton effect to a photo. The Orton effect is a dreamy glow often added to landscape images to make them look magical. By creating an action, you'll be able to add it like an image filter.

Follow along with us over on our Envato Tuts+ YouTube Channel:

How to Create an Orton Effect Photoshop Action

Step 1

Open your photo in Photoshop (I used this photo from Envato Elements). Make sure it's a background layer, and then open the Actions panel and create a new action. Give it a name and start recording.

create new action

Step 2

Duplicate the background layer by pressing Control-J. Add a Black&White adjustment to remove the colors.

add black and white adjustment
black and white photo

Step 3

Add a Levels adjustment. Use it to reduce the number of shades in the picture, creating a high contrast between the dark and bright areas.

add levels adjustment
increase contrast with levels
reduce shades in photo

Step 4

Go to the Channels tab. Right-click the Red channel and duplicate it. Name the copy alpha. Hold Control and click the thumbnail of alpha.

add new channel

Step 5

Return to the Layers tab. Hide both adjustments. Go to Select > Inverse and remove the selected area from the background copy. Deselect (Control-D).

remove selection

Step 6

Time to add the actual Orton effect. Go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur. Adjust the Radius. Don't try to make it perfect yet—we'll adjust it in a moment.

add gaussian blur
gaussian blur added

Step 7

Adjust the Opacity to mix the blurry layer with the sharp layer below.

lower opacity
mix blur with sharpness

Step 8

To enhance the dreamy glow effect, we can brighten the layer. Add a Brightness/Contrast adjustment, clip it, and increase the Contrast.

add contrast adjustment
adjust contrast
make photo brighter

Step 9

Usually when there's a lot of glow in the photo, the shadows get a little overexposed. We can simulate this effect by adding a Selective Color adjustment. Make the Blacks slightly brighter and slightly bluer.

add selective color adjustment
make black brighter
make shadows bluer and brighter

Step 10

When you're done, remove the hidden adjustment layers and stop recording.

stop recording

The best thing about Photoshop actions is that you can reuse them on many photos in almost no time, and you can still adjust the effect to your needs afterwards. It's as if you've just created a Photoshop filter of your own!

orton effect photoshop
photo effects photoshop
blur effect photoshop

Soft Focus Photoshop Action

Quickly add a soft glow around your subject by brushing over it and playing the action.

Soft Focus Photoshop Action

Bokeh Photoshop Action

This bokeh action turns your selfie photo from the phone or customary photo into a professional picture taken with an SLR camera, with a beautiful bokeh effect. This action also contains ten color effects to improve your final results.

Bokeh Photoshop Action

Zoom Blur Photoshop Action

Create a cool effect of a zoom blur by selecting your subject and playing this action.

Zoom Blur Photoshop Action

FilterGrade Light Leaks Photoshop Actions S2

Light Leaks Series II features a whole collection of Photoshop actions with some of the most advanced light leaks around, including the all new Light Strip effects.

FilterGrade Light Leaks Photoshop Actions S2

Soft Focus 3 Photoshop Action

Make your photo soft and dreamy by adding this beautiful image filter.

Soft Focus 3 Photoshop Action

Good Job!

Now you know how to create photo effects in the form of Photoshop actions. If you want to learn more about creating Photoshop effects, try these tutorials as well:

how to create orton effect dreamy glow photoshop
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