The Orton Effect

Applying the Orton Effect To Your Photos

This is an effect that I used to teach over four years ago, but which is pretty neat to apply to images that are not quite perfect. By applying the effect, you can make second-grade images much nicer.

Step 1

Start with an image that you would like to apply the effect on. Above you can see the one I choose as the “before” example.

Step 2

Start by duplicating the background layer (so that you keep the original intact). You can do this using the keyboard shortcut Cmd + J (PC: Ctrl + J).

Step 3

Now you are going to overexpose the image a bit. This is done through the Apply Image dialog box under the Image menu (Image > Apply Image). Make sure the opacity is set at 100% and that the blending is set to Screen.

Step 4

Again make a duplicate, this time of the overexposed layer. The keyboard shortcut is still Cmd + J (PC: Ctrl + J). You will now have three layers: the original, and two overexposed.

Step 5

Go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur and apply a blur. The radius that you need will differ depending on the resolution of the photo. In this example, I am using a radius of about 10 pixels because the photo is small in size (800px wide). The finished blurred photo should look like the one previewed above for any file size and resolution.

Step 6

On the top layer (which you applied the blur to), change the blend mode to Multiply.

Finished Result

With that you have the finished orton effect result, an image that has much better contrast as well as a slight blur to it. Enjoy!

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Erik is the owner of online media company Bernskiold Media that runs tutorial website Bernskiold learning and he is a Web Designer, Photographer and Software-Trainer.

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