Join Julieanne Kost for an in-depth discussion in this video Creating an infrared look with Diffuse Glow, part of Photoshop CC Essential Training (2013).
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A quick and easy way to take this image and make it look like it was shot on infrared film would be to make a grayscale conversion and then add the diffuse glow filter. And in order to do this in the most flexible manner possible, I want to start by adding an Adjustment layer, the bottom of the layers panel. I'll click on the Adjustment Layer icon. And I'll choose the Black & White Adjustment Layer. Then we can select from one of the presets. For example, I could use the infrared preset.
In this case I think it makes it a little bit too extreme of a conversion. So I'm going to select my targeted adjustment tool by clicking on the icon. And then I'm going to click and drag to the left in order to reduce the amount of brightness that was applied to the yellows. Or Basically to move the slider to the left so that when Photoshop converts my yellow tones to Gray Scale it doesn't make them so light. Am I also want to take down the sky a little bit more, so I'll click and drag to the left there and you can see that the blues are dragging down.
I'm seeing a little bit of banding in the sky, and that's a result of this being a JPEG file. So this is one of the things you'll want to watch out for. If you do save your files as JPEG you are compressing them, and when you have a sky like this that really doesn't change its color much over a large distance, one of the things that you might see is this kind of banding. But if you've working with own raw files most likely your not going to get this banding. If you do you can just back off a little bit on the sliders to see if that banding will go away. But in this case I want it to be rather extreme so I'm definetly going to bring the blue and cyans down.
Not only that, but I'm going to be adding a filter that adds grain and noise into the sky. So that's going to help hide that. Now let's collapse the properties panel. And now I want to add the difuces glow filter. Before we go to the filter menu, let's do two things. One, we need to click on the Background Layer and convert it to a smart object. We'll use our contact sensitive menus. On the Mac, we can hold down the control key and then click on the word background or on Windows we can use our right mouse click and then convert this to a smart object.
Some of the filters actually use your foreground and background colors here on your toolbar. So we're also going to want to tap the d key in order to get our default colors, which will put black as the foreground and white as the background. That way when I choose the Filter menu and we go into Filter Gallery, when I go under the Distort Filters and I select Diffuse Glow. Photoshop will use the black and white in order to create this glow, so if you've come in here before and had some odd colors in here, it's probably because of your foreground and background color.
Now let's use the Cmd key on the Mac or Ctrl key on Windows and tap the 0 key in order to fit this in window. If we want to see it a little bit larger we can collapse the list of filters to choose from now that we've already selected ours, and then we can change the graininess, glow amount and clear amount. So again, if I want to make sure that I'm covering up that posterization in the sky... I'll want to add a lot of grain if we move the glow amount all the way to left and the clear amount all the way to the right you can really see that the only change that's being made is the additional grain but as we move the glow amount to the right we'll start to see our highlight glow.
As we move the clear amount to the left, we can start to see a glow in the midtones and the rest of the image depending on how much we add. So let's back off a little on the glow amount. One of the things you'll notice of course is that we're actually viewing the image in color here, and that's because we are working on that smart object On the background area which is in codes. Under the black and white adjustment layer that we have it on top, that's converting this image to grayscale.
So, that's why we're seeing it in color here. So, we'll click okay. Now we can see that Photoshop is showing it to us. You're previewing it as grayscale. But, remember that's because we've got this Black & White Adjustment Layer. If I don't want to see that, we can toggle it off, or we can toggle it on. This is a nice way to create kind of that infrared look. But of course, the best part about Photoshop, is that because we're doing all of this in a non destructive manner, we can experiment an change other things without worrying, about ruining this effect.
So for example, I might want to decrease the opacity, of the black an white adjustment layer. I'll grab the opacity slider and just back off a little bit to reintroduce a little bit of color into this image. So there you have it, an easy way to take your image to grayscale and add a diffused glow to emulate infrared with our own creative color twist.
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