An in-depth guide to how to use Photoshop’s distortion filters – including Diffuse Glow, Ripple, Shear, ZigZag, Spherize and Twirl – to add fantastic creative effects to your photographs. Part one - Diffuse Glow.

The Diffuse Glow filter adds a soft glow to an image, and attempts to do so more in the background than over the main subject. The highlight colour depends on the background colour in the Toolbox palette, with the default white usually being the most successful. The filter works well on portraits, and can be used as an alternative to the clichéd soft focus effect.

Diffuse Glow


1. At medium settings of Graininess 5, Glow Amount 10, Clear Amount 10, Diffuse Glow adds a layer of grain and spreads the highlights.

2. Anything other than the default white will tint the highlights – as in this grim example with the palette background colour changed to bright green.

3. Though a failure on vegetables, Diffuse Glow has a role in softening portraits. With background colour reset to white, settings of Graininess 8, Glow Amount 13, and Clear Amount 10 give a reasonable simulation of a grainy high-key colour portrait.


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To extend the “high key” look in this photo of a young woman, you need to vary the effect of the Diffuse Glow filter. 
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