Abstract Pixel Sorting Effect Photoshop Tutorial (+ FREE PS Action!)

Abstract Pixel Sorting Effect Photoshop Tutorial (+ FREE PS Action!)

August 6, 2019 32 By Peter Engel


How’s it going everyone, this is Chris from
Spoon Graphics back with another video tutorial for Adobe Photoshop. Today we’re going to have some fun creating
an abstract piece of artwork that features the Pixel Sorting effect, which is a type
of glitch art that’s usually generated by computer code, but we’ll be replicating the
appearance with Photoshop’s built in filters. If you search for pixel sorting artwork on
sites such as Pinterest you’ll see some great surreal artworks where the effect is combined
with a normal photograph, usually with these extended pixels drooping from a pair of sunglasses
or in place of a subject’s entire face. That’s exactly what we’ll be producing in
this tutorial, an abstract art piece that features a female face with long glitchy pixels
that extend vertically from her sunglasses. To begin, open your chosen base photo in Photoshop,
you can find the images I used linked in the description. This particular image has some extra white
areas, so it needs quickly cropping to size. This image looks like it has already been
modified with some unusual graphics within the sunglasses area, but that will be hidden
as we add the pixel sorting effect. We’ll need a second photo to generate the
glitchy pixels. This can be any random image. Once the effect is applied the original subject
won’t be recognisable. If your image is a portrait layout, rotate
it by 90 degrees to make it landscape, otherwise go to Image Size and reduce the size to the
a smaller preset like 1024×768. We need the image to be quite a small resolution
so we can see the pixels. Go to Filter>Stylize>Wind, then choose
the Stagger option and From the Left. Use the shortcut CMD+F to repeat the effect
a few times to lengthen the pixels until the original subject is no longer recognisable. Go to Select>All, followed by Copy, then
paste the effect into the main document. Since we scaled the image down, it’s now too
small for this document. Rather than scale it back up and sacrifice
the crisp pixels, instead delete the layer, scale down the image slightly, then paste
it back in. Press CMD+T to Transform, then hold Shift
while rotating the image to 90 degrees. Position it over the sunglasses lenses. Add a layer mask, then hide the visibility
for now. Use the elliptical marquee tool to draw a
selection around the first sunglasses lens. The selection doesn’t have to match perfectly
along the bottom edge. Go to Select>Inverse, then use the CMD+Backspace
shortcut to fill this selection with black to hide everything but this circle. Deselect with the CMD+D shortcut, then draw
a new selection around the other lens. Since the artwork is already hidden by the
mask, use the ALT+Backspace shortcut to fill it with white to make this portion visible
again. Switch the selection tool over to the Rectangular
Marquee tool and align a selection to the width of the first lens circle. Right click and choose Transform Selection,
then extend it right to the bottom of the canvas. Hit Enter to apply the transformation, then
fill this area with white to reveal the rest of the glitchy pixels. Do the same with the other side, to make the
pixel sorting effect appear to flow out of the sunglasses and down the canvas. The effect isn’t large enough to reach all
the way off the edge of the canvas, so disconnect the layer from its mask by clicking the little
chainlink icon, then activate the artwork portion of the layer. Press CMD+T to Transform, then stretch the
image so it extends to the bottom of the canvas. Colour adjustments can be made to finish off
the effect. Add a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer, then
hold the ALT key while clicking between the layers to make a clipping mask with the pixel
sorting layer, so the effect will only apply to this layer and not the image as a whole. Move the hue slider back and forth to alter
the colours of the pixels to find colours that complement the base photo. You can also add a Gradient Map to add some
extra colour casts. I’m using a preset from my free DuoTone gradients,
with the blending mode changed to Lighten and the opacity dropped to 50%. The final result is a cool surreal piece of
abstract artwork that makes use of the popular Pixel Sorting effect. While the original glitch art is created randomly
with computer code, replicating the effect with Photoshop gives you much more control
to be able to produce fun creations like this. If you enjoyed the tutorial be sure to stick
around on the Spoon Graphics YouTube channel by subscribing. Check out my free Pixel Sorting Action over
on my Spoon Graphics website and bag yourself my free resources bundle while you’re there,
otherwise thank you very much for watching and I’ll see you in the next one.