Glitch art means intentionally corrupting digital data. It creates unusual visual effects.
These days, you can find glitch art anywhere from music videos to social media posts.
In this article, we’ll show you exactly how to make glitch art photos. Whether you’re looking for a fun photography trick or want to show off on Flickr and Instagram.
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1. How to Choose Which Photos to Use
If you want to achieve better glitch art photos, here are some factors to consider when choosing your images.
First, look for an image with a clean background and one or two subjects. When you glitch a photograph, a lot of visual elements in it will be distorted.
If your image isn’t too busy, you’ll have a better chance of making your subject stand out.
You should also look for photos that only have three to five colors. More than that and the result might end up too distracting.
Try using photos with strong geometric shapes. Lines are more likely to yield cleaner results.
And they can also make your image look futuristic. This works well for abstract glitch art.
2. How to Create Glitch Art on Your Phone
The quickest way to create a glitch photo is by using apps on your phone. There are many options out there. They all offer different effects depending on your needs.
The good news is, you don’t have to stick to just one.
If you want the classic RGB shift effect associated with glitch art, look no further. The Onetap Glitch app is what you want.
It allows you to adjust different settings such as Random Seed. This generates distortion in different sections of your photo.
Apart from that, you can also move and separate the colours via RGB Shift. Then you can select the effect’s Intensity as well as Thickness.
The next on our list is Glitchr, which is a fun-to-use glitch photography generator. Take a photo or download one from your gallery and choose the effect you want.
It has a few exciting filters including Glitch Art, ASCII, and 3D. It can even replicate visuals from Gameboy and NES gaming consoles.
Finally, there’s Mirror Lab, which is perfect for serious glitch artists. It has plenty of customizable presets. These include fractal art, glitch, planetoids, and even kaleidoscope effects.
Once you upload or take a photo, all you have to do is choose the filter you want, and you’ll see the results right away.
3. How to Create Glitch Art Online
Apart from phone apps, there are also free programs you can use online. In most cases, they offer more options than their mobile counterparts. And they allow you to work with bigger file data.
Some of the best ones we found are Glitcher, Image Glitch Tool, and Photomosh.
Glitcher has a small module in the upper left side of the frame where you find a few buttons and drop down menus. Once you upload your image, click Add Module and select the effects you want.
It has dozens of selections including Slice Glitch, After Picture, and Scanlines. You can then move the toggles to tweak the effect you chose. You can save your work either as a GIF or an image.
Another great app is Image Glitch Tool which combines several effects into one image. So don’t be surprised if the first part of the image is solarized. And the other sections look pixelated or distorted.
It even has controls that let you change the Amount, Seed, Iterations, and Quality. If you hate adjustments, you can also click the Randomize Button, instead.
Then we have the user-friendly Photomosh. It turns your image into an animation but also lets you save your work as a JPEG.
All you have to do is load your photo, and select from the 27 effects the app offers.
It has more than the static glitch photography filters like Scanlines and RGB shift. It also features moving effects such as Jitter and Wobble.
4. Create Precision Effects With Photoshop
If you want to have more control over your work, we’ll show you how to distort your photo in Photoshop as well.
The first step is to create a blank document with 1500 x 1000 size and place your image inside it.
Then resize the picture to fit the dimensions of your glitch photo background. After that, you can go ahead and start editing.
To create glitch distortion, click on the Rectangular Marquee Tool. Select a section from the photo. Next, choose Move Tool and use the arrow keys to move the area you chose to the left or to the right.
Feel free to add more bars with varying thickness and repeat the process until you’re satisfied.
The final step is adding a glitch background that resembles a 3D RGB shift effect. First, duplicate your image three times. Then right-click on the first layer and select Blending Options.
When you’re done, deselect the Green Channel under Advanced Blending.
Now go to the second and third layer and uncheck the Blue and Red Channels.
Next, select Move Tool and click on the first layer. Now use the arrow keys to displace it either to the left or to the right.
You then repeat the process with the next two layers. Do so until you see the colours overlapping.
5. Glitch Your Photos With Audacity
So far, we’ve offered you different apps that replicate abstract glitch photo effects.
Here are a few more hands on methods of corrupting file formats to create bizarre results. Let’s start by modifying photos using the free audio editor Audacity.
Since you’ll be “destroying” a real file, you’ll need to make a copy of your image first. Open the photo on MS Paint (or any simple photo editor) and save it as BMP.
Next, open Audacity and select Import under File. Then click on Raw Files and choose the BMP picture you want to edit.
Once you select the photo, an Import Raw Data box will appear. For Encoding, select U-Raw. For Byte Order, choose Big-Endian. And for Channels, click on 1 Channel (Mono).
After the file loads, highlight any section after the 5-second mark. Select Echo, Phaser, or Wahwah under Effects. The ones we mentioned produce the best glitches. But feel free to experiment with other options as well.
When you’re finished adding the effects, go to Files and click on Export Audio. Under File Type, select Other Compressed Files and hit Options.
Once a box appears, click on Raw (Headerless) under Header, and U-Law under Encoding. Audacity will then ask you to add metadata.
Press Okay and hit Save. Keep in mind that when using Audacity, you won’t see the glitch art effects right away until you save the file and view the picture.
6. Experiment With Notepad
A few years ago, a few creative people discovered that image files could also be manipulated using Windows Notepad. Unfortunately, the current version corrupts the file entirely and renders your photo useless.
Thankfully, you can still glitch photos using the open source text glitcher Notepad ++.
First, you’ll need to open your image on MS Paint (or similar editing software) and convert it to BMP. It will help a lot if you resize the photo because using big files tend to crash Notepad ++.
After converting your picture, open it in the app (expect to see a lot of random symbols once it loads).
Now scroll down about halfway and copy a random patch of symbols and paste it somewhere else in the document.
When you’re done, hit Save, and you’ll have a glitched result.
Just a word of warning: Learning how to make abstract glitch art using Notepad can be a bit challenging. There’s no way of knowing how your final photo is going to look.
Just keep copying and pasting symbols until you find the result that you like. It involves a lot of trial and error, but the random process is what makes it fun.
7. Go Analog
Of course, image glitch isn’t just limited to digital platforms. You can also create them using analog gadgets such VHS tapes and camcorders.
Instead of emulating effects with editing software, you can create real glitches using these devices yourself.
You can ask your parents or even grandparents if they have an old VCR or camcorder lying around. If not, you can always find plenty of these gadgets at thrift stores for cheap.
It may take a lot more work, but when it comes down to it, nothing beats the authenticity of real noise and distortion.
Using a camcorder, you can record yourself or another subject as the basis for your glitched image. When you have enough footage, fast forward and rewind the tape until you see static all across the screen.
You can apply the same process to your VCR as well. You can digitize the footage through your computer using a video capture software (Adobe Premiere works).
However, you can also take a photo of the screen directly with your digital camera to give your image an even grittier look.
8. (Bonus) Try Scanning Your Image
Using a flatbed scanner is another creative way to produce glitch effects. Your subject could be anything from flowers to old photographs as long as they fit in the scanning tray.
All you have to do is drag your object around while you’re scanning and your image would end up looking elongated. Apart from the elongation, you’re also likely to see scanlines in some sections.
It’s simple, it’s fun, and there’s no editing necessary.
Check out our scanography article for more creative scanner ideas!
The whole point of abstract glitch art is experimentation. Feel free to set the technical aspects aside and embrace the randomness of the process.
You can always use Photoshop and other editing apps to control different elements of your photo. But there’s nothing like the surprise of intentionally corrupting files.
If you’re in the mood for more creative tutorials, check out our posts on steel wool photography, spiral light painting or even creating dark and moody flower photography.
And check this cool glitch art effects video out before you go.