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Diffusion Glow Effect in Photoshop

Some hardcore photographers will say that enhancing your photos in Photoshop is cheating. However, most photographers do a little retouching or image enhancement to give their portraits a little extra pizazz. Being able to create beautiful portrait effects will make it easier to market yourself as a professional photographer. Also, being able to use these effects yourself will save you from having to hire a professional retouching service, saving you money in the long run. This diffusion glow effect is a nice enhancement, because it enables you to give the subject a soft glow to the areas of their skin, and it leaves the details of the hair fairly in tact.

Pick a portrait photo that you have and open it inside of Photoshop. Hit Command/Ctrl + J to create a duplicate layer. Set the blending mode of the layer to screen.

diffusion glow effect step 1

Then, Click the layer mask icon to make a layer mask on your duplicate layer. Making sure the mask is selected, go to the top menu and select Image> Apply Image. Choose the default settings and click ok. Select your image on the duplicate layer. Then go to Filter>Blur> Gaussian Blur. Depending on the resolution of your image, you will want to bump the gaussian blur value to somewhere from 10-15.

diffusion glow effect -step 2diffusion glow effect step 3diffusion glow effect -step 4


It isn’t difficult to create a diffusion glow effect in Photoshop. Adding effects like these can take a dull image and add a little something extra to your portraits to make them stand out. Another type of image that would work well for this effect would be a park or a garden scene, because it would add to the whimsical effect of the photo. These types of images really stand out and get a lot of attention, because they are almost dream-like or surreal.

Do you have another method for creating a diffusion glow effect in Photoshop? If so feel free to share it with us in the comments section below.