FREE Photoshop Orton Effect
What is the Orton Effect
The Orton Effect is a technique that was developed by Michael Orton in the 1980s and even today is one of the most liked technique which is used when post processing photographs in Photoshop, especially landscapes.
Michael Orton originally created the effect to imitate watercolour paintings. As this was done long before digital, it was done by sandwiching two transparencies of the same composition where one slide is in focus and overexposed and the second is out of focus and overexposed.
There are many ways to produce the Orton Effect in Adobe Photoshop but if you are not careful, it can be wrongly done resulting in an effect which in my opinion tips the effect over the edge and becomes un-realistic.
The Orton Effect Gone Wrong
To me the whole point of making an Orton Effect is to soften the details in complex shadow areas such as forest scenes and or add a subtle glow to soften the image around high contrast areas, typically where light could spill over into the shadow areas.
Once concept to understand is that it is the light which glows and not the shadows. This is important and should always be in the back of your mind because I often see landscape photos, where the Orton Effect is used and silhouettes of trees glow with darkness which to me is completely wrong.
Photoshop Orton Effect Panel
The Orton Effect Photoshop panel is a panel which resides inside of Photoshop. Just like all Photoshop panels, it can be docked to any other panel for convenience or it can be free floating.
Using The Panel
To use the panel, make sure you have a normal layer as the top layer, not an adjustment layer or anything like that. Press the “Apply Orton Effect” button and wait for the panel to do its job.
The effect which the panel creates is only subtle, just enough in my opinion to give the final image a lift without it looking to un-natural. If you are looking for an Orton effect which gives a strong effect then it is fairly easy to make a Photoshop action using the Multiply Blend mode.
Make sure top layer is a normal layer
The panel will create a new layer group called Orton and apply a white mask to the group which reveals the full effect. Drag the intensity slider and let go to change the strength of the effect.
Using a black paint brush on the white group mask you can selectively paint away the effect on areas where you do not want it to show.
The Orton Effect was added to the following images with an intensity of around 75%. I painted on the group mask with a soft black brush over the areas I did not want the effect to show.
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