Glass filter in Photoshop Tutorial

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By Andrew Buckle, Updated : 2021

Glass filter (GF) for Adobe Photoshop and distortions tutorial and how to use them. How to use the glass filter to create all kinds of amazing distortion and warping effects.

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1. Where ?

it is found in the filter gallery and uses displacement maps PSD files to modify the effect and comes with a range of settings and can be combined with other filter gallery effects.

2. Options

It includes (like most filters) only a few settings (if you want more you should be using After Effects etc). The options are distortion + smoothness + texture (this is the place for the selected PSD file) + scaling + Invert. Distortion: if you set the distortion to a very low setting you can hardly see the distortion with any displacement map. Set the distortion high and the displacement map can be seen as clear as day. Smoothness: Low, you can see more a thin line embossing effect. Set high and you see a nice smooth effect applied to the distortion (as long as the setting is high enough). Texture: this is the main area for the displacement maps PSD files. The displacement maps can be seamless tiles but they don't need to be and you can create many amazing artworks using non-seamless designs as well. You can only use displacement PSD files but you can always convert PNG or JPG files to PSD and then use those. Scaling: If you have a fairly large file then you may wish to set the scaling to a large value, if you are using a small source file then you may wish to reduce the scaling. It has a fairly limited range, not sure why the GF doesn't go beyond those minimum and maximum limits (Affinity Photo's versions of these filters often allows a far greater range of settings). Invert: changes the angle of the light to the opposite direction

3. New effect layer

One great feature of the filter gallery is that you can add additional effects within the same plugin dialog though there is no blending modes between each of the entries. You can delete the entries within the panel as well. You can also click on each entry and then modify the settings for that entry. To add an additional effect go to the bottom of the panel and click the '+' button and you will see another GF entry created with the same settings. You can then modify the settings as well as change the effect to perhaps another of the gallery effects such as Texturizer and patchwork etc. You can also select any of the entries and drag them up and down to create different results within the same panel.

4. Photoshop actions

As with all the filters in Photoshop, the GF and multiple filter gallery effects can be combined together with other filters in Photoshop as well as with adjustment layers etc in a Photoshop action and that action can be run multiple times via the actions panel. Record the effect action and then add into the mix other filter effects such as oil paint and camera raw and then save that to run the action on other designs such as type and images. The distortion effect can then be re-applied numerous times and combined with varying settings of scale and perhaps different displacement maps, to create all kinds of amazing distorted effects, colored distorted effects, subtle texture effects and more

5. type

It can be used to great effect with type. Apply some type and flatten and then apply the filter to that. The GF does not work well with type as a smart object or layer but it does work well with the artwork applied to a layer or background layer with something more than just the type to work with. You may find that you can create interesting type designs by blurring the type beforehand and then applying the GF.

6. channels

Go to the channels panel and select the red channel and then apply the GF with one set of settings, go to the green channel and use a different set of settings and same with the blue channel. You can also apply the effect multiple times to one channel as well as totally ignore another channel. Once you are happy with your result, click the RGB entry. If you are using CMYK or other image modes, you will notice that the gallery is not available.

7. layers

You can select one layer in the layers panel and apply the GF with one set of settings. Select another layer and then apply the GF with a different set of settings and you can then combine those layers using different blending modes. The layers can be different images or they can be the same image duplicated or perhaps the image but slightly smaller than the lower layers. Or use with blending modes via the layers panel so the GF can be blended with difference and darken or lighten with the lower layers.

8. Smart filters

You can convert a layer into a smart object via the layer menu and smart objects and then apply the GF to that via the filter gallery. You can apply multiple effects to that layer and combine them using the blending modes for the smart filter. The great thing about the GF smart effect is that you can edit the effect at any time as well as delete it at any point.

9. Fade

You can apply the effect with the full settings but if you want a subtle effect you can always apply it and then go to the edit menu and select fade and then use the different blending modes such as lighten or change the opacity of the applied effect to reduce the impact.


You can find it in the filter menu

Distortion, smoothness etc

You can create lovely smooth designs using smoothness

You have a limited four textures to use

You can load any textures as long as they are in PSD format

Once they have been selected, they will appear in the texture list

Applied settings

Smoothness setting to the max

Intense settings

Add additional effects in the gallery plugin

Use actions to re-apply the GF multiple times

Create all kinds of abstract designs by repeat applies of the effect

Use with type

Can be re-applied multiple times with type

Use with channels

Apply the effect to the blue channel

All kinds of weird color effects can be created using channels

Use the effect with layers

You can use blending modes to blend the gallery settings

You can use the GF as a smart effect

The smart filters can be built with multiple other effects such as oil paint

You can also fade the effect and blend with lighten or darken etc blends