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How to Make an Aesthetic Edit in Photoshop (Glitch Effect)

Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

Today, we are going to look at how you can put together a quick, aesthetically pleasing pastel photo effect. You'll also learn how you can add an aesthetic glitch photo effect to any image in less than 60 seconds! 

What You Will Learn in This Aesthetic Effect Photoshop Tutorial

  • How to make aesthetic edits in Photoshop
  • How to create a glitch aesthetic in Photoshop
  • How to create pastel images in Photoshop 
  • How to use the refine edge tool in Photoshop
  • How to create pastel gradients in Photoshop

Tutorial Assets

To complete this project, you will need the following resources:

Find more resources on Envato Elements!

1. How to Use the Refine Edge Tool in Photoshop 

We are going to start learning how to make aesthetic edits by preparing our subject using my favorite way to extract hair: the Refine Edge Tool!

Step 1

First, we are going to duplicate our subject layer, because while we will still be extracting our subject, she will remain on her original background. 

Step 2

Next, you will want to extract one of the subjects using whatever your preferred method is! Mine is the Pen Tool. However, any technique will work! 

Hide the second un-extracted subject layer, bringing it below the extracted layer if it's not already. 

exstract subject

Step 3

Now, using the Magnetic Lasso Tool, create a rough selection of the model's hair. 

Add a layer mask to the subject if they don't already have one, and mask out the selection using a black brush.

mask hair

Step 4

Double-click the subject's layer mask, or hit Control-Alt-R, to open up Refine Edge.

Refine Edge Settings

  • Radius: 3 px
  • Smart Radius: Checked

Select the Refine Edge Brush Tool, located on the left-hand side, and brush around the edges of the subject's hair.

This is best done with a medium to large brush size. Change the size of the brush using [ and ].

If an area you don't want selected becomes selected, press and hold Alt to change the brush from add to subtract/deselect. You can also press Control-Alt-Z to undo a selection or deselection.

Keep running the brush over the edges of the hair, paying attention to how the hair strands come and go, until you are satisfied. Hit OK.

refine edge

Step 5

Unhide your lower subject, unextracted layer. 

Create and clip a New Layer into the extracted subject. Set the layer to Soft Light and 100% Opacity.

With a large, soft, round brush, paint a soft wash of light onto the hair, starting from the edges and working your way in. 

Brush Settings

  • Flow: 50%
  • Hardness: 0%
  • Color: White 
soft light

Step 6 

Create and clip another New Layer, placing it above the "Soft Light" layer. Set the layer to Normal and 70% Opacity.

With the same brush as before, paint white on the edges of the hair. The key is to build up light very slowly and softly. 

normal layer

Step 7

Duplicate your extracted subject, clipping a pure white Color Fill Layer into her. We want her to be solid white!

Now, move the white subject a few pixels to the left. Mask, or erase, everything but the hair.

This will give you an instant backlit hair aesthetic effect in Photoshop! Group all of your subject layers, including the hair, into a group named "Subject."

back-lit hair

2. How to Create Pastel Gradients in Photoshop

Pastel colors are going to be your go-to in how to make aesthetic edits in Photoshop! They are timeless and trendy at the same time, making them a no-brainer when wondering what to add to an aesthetic edit.

Step 1

Create a Gradient Map adjustment layer, going from a pastel blue #bfd7fd to a pastel pink #dd8ab7, above your unextracted subject layer. 

Fill the layer mask with black by clicking the mask and hitting Control-I. This will hide the gradient completely. 

Step 2

Using the Elliptical Marquee Tool, create a large circular selection behind your subject. Fill the selection with white. 

Take a large, soft, round brush set to white, and mask in the bottom portion of the gradient layer, below the circle, bringing in a large gradient of pastel colors. 

pastel circle

Step 3

Duplicate the pastel gradient adjustment layer and clip it into the subject. 

Delete the duplicate's layer mask, adding a new one, and again filling the mask with black.

Maks the gradient onto the legs of the subject, stopping after it hits the socks, and going very slightly up the thigh. 

gradient on legs

3. How to Create Aesthetic Edits in Photoshop 

When thinking about how to make aesthetic edits, it might be hard to pinpoint one go-to visual or design. So your best bet is to keep it colorful, simple, and bold!

Step 1

Duplicate your extracted subject, bring it out of and below the "Subject" group, and then clip a white Color Fill layer into the duplicate.

Move the duplicated layer over several pixels by holding down Shift and using the Arrow Keys to move the white silhouetted subject to the right and slightly up.    

Use a hard, round brush set to black to mask out any excess areas of white on the left side, like the wheels of the skates. 

white silhouette

Step 2

Repeat this process three more times using a medium-light blue #b4d8eb, light pastel blue #b4d8eb, and medium pastel pink #ffb5c5 in that order. 

Bring each copy below the previous, using the last copy as the new layer to duplicate. You should have a total of four solid-colored silhouettes, creating a retro rainbow effect. 

Group all these layers into a folder named "Graphic." 

retro rainbow photo effect

4. How to Create a Pastel Color Grade in Photoshop  

How do you make a picture aesthetic in Photoshop? With pastels, of course! While you can also download different actions and presets that will give you a pastel color grade, making your own is just as easy. 

Step 1

Create a Color Lookup adjustment layer and place it above all the other layers. Set it to 3DLUT File: Fall Colors at 45% Opacity. 

fall colors

Step 2

Create a Color Lookup adjustment layer and place it above all the other layers. Set it to 3DLUT File: Fuji ETERNA 250D Kodak 2395 at 66% Opacity.  

fuji kodak

Step 3

Create a Color Lookup adjustment layer and place it above all the other layers. Set it to 3DLUT File: Soft Warming at 100% Opacity. 

soft warming

Step 4

Create a Brightness/Contrast adjustment layer and place it above all the other layers. Set it to Brightness: 5 and Contrast: 20. 

Group all of these adjustment layers into a group, naming it "Color Grade!"


5. How to Create a Glitch Effect in Photoshop 

Let's finish this image off by adding our final glitch aesthetic! Make sure you apply all of your final changes before following this step.

Step 1

Duplicate all of your layers, and then Right-Click > Merge Layers so that you have a flattened copy of your image above all the previous layers, including your color grade.  

Double-click the flattened copy to open up the Layer Style panel. Uncheck the R Channel. You won't see any changes yet. 

Step 2

Create the glitch effect by moving your flattened image with the Move Tool!

If you want a subtle effect, only move the image slightly. If you want a more extreme effect, move the image a large distance!

You can also experiment with the Warp Mode here to create different kids of glitch effects. 

glitch effect

Step 3

Finally, add a layer mask to the glitch layer and mask out the glitch effect from the face, so that her face is crisp and clear. 

mask out face

You can experiment with moving around the solid color silhouettes after the glitch layer has been created as well. 

final alt
final layers

We've Done It! 

And that's it; you are all done! You can create aesthetic edits without spending hours at a time, and incorporating pastels and aesthetic glitch effects is the perfect way to bring new life to an otherwise average image.

Looking to save even more time? Then keep scrolling to see my top five favorite glitch effects and aesthetic photo effects that can be found on Envato Elements! 

final result

Top 5 Glitch Effects and Aesthetic Edits

Aesthetic Mobile & Desktop Lightroom Presets

aesthetic photo effect

These Aesthetic Lightroom Presets will help you make quick aesthetic edits by adding bright, faded, and fresh tones to your photographs with just a few clicks! They are your perfect answer to the question of how to edit aesthetic photos in Photoshop.

Anaglyph / Glitch Photo FX

anaglyph photo effect

Create amazing, non-destructive aesthetic glitch effects with Anaglyph! The template is easy to use and comes with its own video tutorial, making it one of the most straightforward glitch edit Photoshop actions around!

Glitch Photoshop Actions Set

glitch photo effect

This glitch aesthetic pack boasts a whopping 14 different glitch edit Photoshop actions, all designed to give you the perfect glitch photo effect! You can even mix, match, and layer them for the ultimate glitch-filled image! 

Pastel Tones Lightroom Presets

pastel photo effect

Still not sure how to make aesthetic edits in Photoshop? The Pastel Tone Lightroom Presets Collection is a set of beautifully crafted filters that will give your photos a soft color effect, bringing that cotton candy aesthetic edit to your photo with minimal effort!

Glitch Instagram Stories

glitch Instagram story templates

Glitch your stories with these cyberpunk styles, automatic glitches, and blue filters! You'll get six unique Instagram templates with an automatic glitch aesthetic perfect for your stories, posts, and personal edits. It's one of the best sets of glitch edit Photoshop templates around! 

As always, keep experimenting with different techniques and practicing. Don't forget to post your version below, along with any questions, comments, or critiques!

Looking to learn more? Why not check out the following tutorials:

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