Glitch Photography Techniques – Research and background tests

6th July 2020

Glitch apps

There are many types of glitch programs which enable the user to automatically glitch their photographs. The results are obtained by uploading an image into the program and then applying a chosen glitch effect to it. The results are unpredictable and can range from the photographer having no control over the end result or being able to change the parameters of the effect by adjusting sliders in a bar.

Other methods of glitching images include data bending where the photographer manipulates the image file by opening it in Text Edit for Mac users and WordPad for Window users. I use a Mac so all of my research is connected with using a Mac only.


TextEdit for Mac


One of the well publicised ways of databending on the Mac is using TextEdit to corrupt the very long code of an image. When you open an image in TextEdit it is converted into text, and lots of it. The first lines of the text contain important information which tells the image how to open so playing with this can lead to a corrupted file which will not open.

Databending on the Mac:

  • Scroll down the text about half way
  • Select and copy a couple of lines
  • Paste the copied lines in multiple areas around the middle section of the text
  • Click File > Save
  • Open in Preview to view the result

If the image will not open the glitch that has been applied has corrupted the text file therefore the process has to be repeated.

I had a go at the method using TextEdit to databend but I didn’t get any results at all with any of my tries. I actually couldn’t find a way to open the image, in fact I could not even locate the image. The below images show the photograph that I used and the first few lines of the photographs code.

Another databending method is changing the images extension from .jpg to .txt and opening it in TextEdit for Mac. Once it is open a few changes to the file are applied by copying and pasting again. The image is then saved and the file extension changed back to jpg. Once open there may (or may not) be glitches on your image. This method is a blind method out of the photographers control.

However once I had completed the above order of changes, I could not locate the image yet again, even with doing an extensive search for the file everywhere on my Mac and in the numerous clouds I have. I actually do not know what I am doing wrong.

I gave up the TextEdit databendiing technique and while trying to find other methods I came across an app being advertised on the internet for 99p. I bought and downloaded it from the App Store.

The app called ImageGlitch had poor reviews but I thought I would give it a try. The outcome? It was a bit of a con, with a couple of hours use and screenshooting every move I found a repeating pattern in the glitches which means the photographer altering the code was not creating the glitches, they were generated and repeated. Not only that they were quite awful. Some results can be seen below.

If we look at how the screen is presented while you are databending you can see that the code is on the left and as you change the code the image is shown on the right. However the glitch that you can see on the first image above is how the image begins without the photographer actually doing anything.

From here I began to research glitch apps knowing that Photoshop will be the last to learn as I would be performing adjustments myself to gain the glitches.

Glitch Apps for IOS

There are many Glitch Apps available both those that you can access on the web to use and those that you will need to download to use.

I read blog posts and websites that gave lists of sites and apps such as and worked my way through the apps researching the different styles and abilities to change the effects on my images that they had.

Some were non existent now and led to error pages, most were very basic and poor in their presentation and there were only a couple that I would deem worth using. The one that I did stick to online is PHOTOMOSH Although it is still rather basic at editing images, it does give you the ability to combine styles by clicking on multiple FX and then altering them as needed. You can keep altering them and even delete them as you go.

I found that PHOTOMOSH is best used with other apps in a technique I call Cross-app. This is where I use Photoshop and two or more other apps together by crossing over from one to another to gain an image that I have planned for.

Below are a few very basic images created using PHOTOMOSH. They are shown with the original photograph that was used which is part of the series taken for Assignment 5.

Apple iPad Apps

7th July 2020

The App Store on the iPad is not short on photography editing apps. I already am a member of Adobe CC so this gives me the free use of all Adobe apps on the iPad. They are not set out and do not have the same array of uses as the full version for PC but they do all have more professional editing possibilities than the other apps have to offer.

If we search for ‘glitch apps’ in the store, we are immediately given many apps to look at and choose from. Most begin their download for free, although there are a few that do not and have to be watched out for. Then once downloaded and trialed you can pay for in app purchases. This is where you have to have your wits about you.

Some offer you the ability to pay for specific effects. Others you have to purchase all effects to unlock the app for full use. Some are cheap one-off payments and some are very expensive weekly, monthly or yearly payments. If you choose one of these options you must remember to go to your Subscriptions screen on your iPad and uncheck the apps you have purchased which are on automatic renewal, otherwise, as I have already been victim too, you can become poor pretty quickly. The last app I forgot to cancel after trial cost me £59.99 and I do not even use it!

Apple’s App Store logo

After searching for the apps the majority were for video making. Some were for videos and photography and only a very few were for photography only and each one were very similar in what they had to offer.

After experimenting with a few apps after download, I kept only four on my iPad to experiment with, however only GlitchCam and Glitch Art Studio are used. These apps are:

  • GlitchCam: Video, photo and AR @ £4.99 a week
  • Glitch Art Studio: Cam Effects for photo and video @ £4.99 one payment
  • Glitch: Photo and video
  • Kino Glitch Pro: mesh grids


Examples of the tools in GlitchCam, each can be adjusted to make different effects and different colours using the sliders when available. I have just shown one basic example of each and some have come out dark as they need further altering in Photoshop CC but I have left them as pure images unadjusted:

As we can see from the examples above many of the tools adjustments are not particularly related to ‘glitches’ at all but are the usual filters and tools that can be obtained within photography editing apps. Due to this there are not many editing tools in each app that I could specifically use to help with the concept of my mental health in the terms of being a ‘glitch’ in my life.

This is where the planning for each image needed to be thought about so that I knew how best I could represent that feeling within an image. As it was some of the images that I have already created with the glitch apps were far more akin to creative art photography than conceptual. These images can be seen here on the blog post Assignment five Personal project – Research and background tests.

Photoshop CC

8th July 2020

Trial 1

How to Create a Cool Glitch Photo Effect in Adobe Photoshop

Above video uploaded to YouTube by Envato Tuts+ March 2019

This will be my first attempt to create glitches in Photoshop CC and I will also be exploring the use of tools that I have not used before, so this will be a very exciting learning curve for me. I will be learning how to use tools such as polygonal lasso and wave filter along with new Photoshop commands when using layers such as creating clipping masks.

This is the experimental image that I created for this glitch trial. The glitches are over exaggerated so that I could compare the settings with the outcome. This enabled me to see how certain setting adjustments altered the image in which particular way. I also took screen shots so that I could put them next to the image to visually see the changes that were made when creating the horizontal and wave glitches.

Below is the completed image that I created.

Trial 1


Open photo ⇨ double click background layer ⇨ rename it photo ⇨ create new layer ⇨ select paint bucket tool ⇨ fill new layer with white ⇨ rename it background ⇨ copy the photo layer ⇨ put the copy above the background layer ⇨ rename it photo 1 ⇨ add photo 1 and background to a new group by clicking on both and pressing the file button (this separates both the layers from the original layer. This allows you to move back and forth later on to see the difference) ⇨ Click photo 1 and then click add layer mask ⇨ select rectangular marquee tool ⇨ select a section on the right side and draw a rectangle ⇨ fill with black ⇨ select polygonal lasso tool ⇨ create a basic selection outline around the subject ⇨ add a new adjustment layer of hue and saturation ⇨ hold control key and select the layer mask for a new adjustment ⇨ switch back to the lasso tool ⇨ right click to inverse the selection ⇨ add a second hue and saturation adjustment layer ⇨ set both layers as clipping masks to the photo ⇨ click on both, right click and select create clipping mask (this enables the ability to adjust the background and the subject differently and separate from one another) ⇨ click on the subject layer and adjust settings to those preferred ⇨ click on the background and adjust to the preferred settings ⇨ add glitch by selecting photo and clipped adjustments ⇨ right click ⇨ merge ⇨ copy merged layer ⇨ name layers 1 and 2 ⇨ select layer 2 ⇨ create the horizontal glitches by selecting the rectangular marquee tool ⇨ make a few selections around the subject (make sure to keep the shift button pressed as the rectangles are drawn) ⇨ select the move tool ⇨ tap the right arrow key a few times (this will move the glitches to the right. Continue the above technique moving in any direction required – REMEMBER a little goes a long way) ⇨ merge layers 1 and 2 ⇨ select rectangular marquee tool ⇨ make larger selections one at a time ⇨ filter ⇨ distort ⇨ wave ⇨ adjust sliders in pop up box as needed ⇨ right click layer 2 ⇨ select pattern (horizontal lines) ⇨ copy layer 2 ⇨ right click layer 2 ⇨ blending options ⇨ uncheck red channel setting ⇨ OK ⇨ select move tool ⇨ press right arrow key to move the photo over to the right ⇨ copy layer 2 ⇨ right click ⇨ blending options ⇨ uncheck settings for red and green channels ⇨ click left arrow to move the photo to the left ⇨ save

To help me remember which settings created which effect on the image I took screenshots of the adjustments box for the Wave tool glitches. Then I placed them together for easy referencing which can be seen below.

reference diagram for the Waves tool

Although the video is only five minutes long it took me a couple of hours to complete the above image because I had to keep re-watching sections so that I could take notes and then apply the adjustments to my own image. It was not a straightforwards either as listening, writing and creating.

I had watched a couple of these videos on YouTube and they all had used a lined pattern, however each Photoshop is loaded with different patterns and since the 2020 update last year many of the tools and preset settings in the libraries had been taken out so that you had to load ones that you wanted back in. I didn’t know this and I didn’t know how to download patterns into libraries or even where to find them.

After an extra hour-ish I managed to learn how to find hidden folders, restore default settings and download free patterns that I needed. However they were totally different than all those within the videos but I just used one lined layer. To follow this up I found a YouTube video that shows you how to create your own lined pattern, so I will do this so that it can be kept for the other glitch images that may need them.

One other annoying factor while following the ‘how to’ in the video was how sometimes I couldn’t perform the same steps as the tutor because my drop down boxes didn’t have all the settings that the tutor did. I had to work out other ways to do the same thing. This is why my image has lines running across it and into the negative white spaces at the sides. It makes the image incomplete but by cross-apping into SketchBook on my iPad I can get rid of these myself as seen below.

I then imported the image into GlitchCam to add some app glitches using Channels Mode 1 to add distortion, Scan lines on the left to drag away from the eye to the outer edge and some Sort New Horizontal lines to complement the blocks that I had created in Photoshop. This technique of using Photoshop and Apps, I call Cross-app. To complete the image I cropped it into a box with straight edges as the overall composition looked better contained within straight edges.

The added ‘glitches’ from the app makes the overall visual composition more dynamic and represents the corrupt movement on the TV much more realistically.

The completed cross-app image can be seen below.

Creating horizontal lines in Photoshop

July 9th 2020

To learn this new skill I began with another Youtube video. however because again there have been updates to Photoshop over the years many of the commands on the video are now obsolete so I had to work out quite a bit of the method myself by cross referencing with the book Adobe Photoshop CC for Photographers 2018 Edition and by Google searches on the internet.

The video that I used as a basic tutorial is called, ‘How to make a horizontal stripe pattern in Photoshop’ which was uploaded by All About Planners in March 2016. I only watched the first six minutes of the video as from here I created a transparent png file myself. The results can be seen below:

Completed stripe pattern transparent overlay

10th July 2020


File ⇨ New ⇨ Dialogue box ⇨ put in dimensions of your document ⇨ Transparent background contents ⇨ RGB color mode ⇨ 8 bit ⇨ 300 Resolution ⇨ OK ⇨ New layer ⇨ right click Shape tool ⇨ select Rectangle tool ⇨ (top of the page) Shape menu ⇨ Shape ⇨ Fill (select the colour that you want. When you create overlays it is best to use black so that you can see what you are doing on the transparent background. The colours can always be changed late) ⇨ Black ⇨ No stroke (this is the border around the stripe. once this has been applied the rest of the specifications will not matter so they can be left) ⇨ Left click on the canvas and drag the mouse (the lines can be made any dimensions that you would like) and draw your rectangle ⇨ take the Stripe off both ends so that there are no gaps left on the canvas ⇨ Move ⇨ Edit ⇨ Free transform (which will bring up the resizing options) ⇨drag shape off the canvas Both sides ⇨ Enter ⇨ View ⇨ Snap (this will make the lines ‘snap’ to the end of the rectangle top/ bottom, if you want it too) ⇨ to make more stripes to fill the template Select Rectangle layer and drag to the bottom and copy ⇨ Repeat until you get as many as you need (the stripes can be added and deleted, more to make the stripes closer and delete to make the spaces larger) ⇨ Select the layer at the top (the last stripe created) ⇨ Left click the rectangle at the top of the canvas ⇨ Drag the rectangle down to the bottom of the canvas so it snaps into place ⇨ Select all of the rectangle layers so that they are highlighted ⇨ Make sure Move tool is still selected ⇨ go to the top of the menu ⇨ Select Distribute vertical centres (the lines are automatically placed with evenly distributed spaces) Create another copy of Rectangle 1 ⇨ Click on the eye to hide the copy of Layer 1 ⇨ Drag it below Rectangle 1 ⇨ Select all the layers except Layer 1 and the Hidden layer ⇨ Right click ⇨ Merge ⇨ Rename layer stripes overlay ⇨ Save ⇨ File ⇨ Export as (dialogue box pops up) ⇨ Png ⇨ Transparent box is ticked ⇨ Export ⇨ Save as ⇨ Stripes overlay transparent 1 ⇨ Save

To add to the photograph open the image and then drag the overlay on top. 

The completed trial image which has been created in Photoshop CC only with no apps, can be seen below:

13th July 2020

Creating a VHS glitch effect in Photoshop

Creating this image proved a little bit tricky. I am finding that I am having to research extra as well as following other peoples methods, wether they are from a YouTube video or written on a website. This is due to the changes in Photoshop over time and also the different versions that people are using at the time they have created their tutorials.

I actually have enjoyed the extra research because I have had to find my way around Photoshop and have used many techniques and tools etc… that I have never used before. I really have learnt so much creating this glitch effect.

The completed image is below:

VHS glitch


Download the font VCR OSD Mono from

File ⇨ New ⇨ Settings put in the image size ⇨ File ⇨ Place (put the image inside the document) ⇨ Right click T (text) tool ⇨ Select Horizontal type tool ⇨ Choose font and adjust size and colour etc… ⇨ Type ‘PLAY’ and select Tick icon ⇨ Right click Shape tool and select Polygon ⇨ Draw a triangle in front of Play ⇨

Right click the second layer ⇨ Blending options ⇨ Uncheck Green and blue channels ⇨ OK ⇨ Move ⇨ Shift image to the right ⇨ Make the third layer visible ⇨ Right click ⇨ Blending options ⇨ Uncheck Red and Green channels ⇨ OK ⇨ Move ⇨ Shift image to the left ⇨ Make the fourth layer visible ⇨ Layer ⇨ New adjustments layer ⇨ Hue /Saturation ⇨ OK ⇨ Change the saturation setting to +100 ⇨ Go to the bottom and Add Layer mask ⇨ Option left click on the layer mask to open the mask layer ⇨ Fill with black ⇨ Click Rectangle marquee and select the areas that you want to reveal the effect ⇨ With the button pressed fill with white ⇨

To copy part of an image and move it to another layer:

Click on layer 1 ⇨ Make all other layers invisible ⇨ Rectangular marquee tool ⇨ Click hold and draw a rectangle around the area that you want to copy ⇨ Edit ⇨ Copy ⇨ Select layer 5 ⇨ Edit ⇨ Paste ⇨ Select layer with pasted selection ⇨ Hide all other layers ⇨ Move ⇨ Option and drag into nw position ⇨ Make other layers visible (the section is now in the image) ⇨ Duplicate Hue/ Saturation layer ⇨ OK ⇨ Put it above the fifth layer ⇨ Layer ⇨ Clipping mask ⇨ Adjust saturation (until the desired outcome) ⇨ Merge layers

To create the VHS textures:

Create a new layer ⇨ Solid color ⇨ White ⇨ Filter ⇨ Filter gallery ⇨ Sketch ⇨ Halftone – pattern 2 contrast 2 pattern type line ⇨ OK ⇨ Right click on the layer ⇨ Blending options opacity 25% ⇨ Uncheck Red and Blue channels ⇨OK ⇨ Duplicate texture layer ⇨ Edit ⇨ Transform ⇨ Rotate (if rotation does not cover the complete canvas then increase the H and W dimensions) ⇨ Right click layer ⇨ Blending options 15% ⇨ Uncheck Green and Blue channels ⇨ Shape tool ⇨ Rectangle tool ⇨ Create a stripe just below half way down ⇨ Select the rectangle layer ⇨ Layer ⇨ Rasterize ⇨ Shape ⇨ Filter ⇨ Noise ⇨ Add noise 400% Distribution Uniform Monochromatic ⇨ OK ⇨ Filter ⇨ Blur ⇨ Motion Blur ⇨ Angle 0˚ Distance 20px ⇨ OK ⇨ Image ⇨ Adjustments ⇨ Brightness/Contrast ⇨ B 150 C 100 ⇨ Adjustments ⇨ Invert ⇨ Blending mode ⇨ Colour dodge ⇨ Duplicate noise stripe layer a few times ⇨ Move ⇨ Hold shift ⇨ Re-locate ⇨ New fill layer ⇨ Fill black ⇨ click on the layer link which is white ⇨ Filter ⇨ Noise Amount 400% Distribution Uniform Monochromatic ⇨ OK ⇨ Filter ⇨ Filter gallery ⇨ Texture ⇨ Patchwork Square size 0 Relief 0 ⇨ OK ⇨ Image ⇨ Adjustments ⇨ Threshold 249 OK ⇨Right click (black layer) ⇨ Blending options ⇨ Screen opacity 100% Uncheck Red and Blue channels ⇨ OK ⇨ Duplicate layer ⇨ OK ⇨ Blending options ⇨ Check Red and Blue channels ⇨ Uncheck the green channel ⇨ OK ⇨ Move ⇨ Move layer to the right ⇨New layer ⇨ Edit ⇨ Fill black ⇨ Fill option 0% ⇨ Double click layer ⇨ Stroke size 25% Position inside Colour black ⇨ OK ⇨ Rasterize layer style ⇨ Filter ⇨ Blur ⇨ Gaussian Blur Radius 4px ⇨ OK ⇨ Resize the frame to fit the canvas, Click frame and menu bar with frame dimensions will pop up, alter the W/ H accordingly

Colour corrections:

New adjustment layer ⇨ Curves ⇨ duplicate curves (put it above the first layer) ⇨ Double click first curves layer and make sure RGB G R are all custom and adjust accordingly ⇨ Left click on the curves layer and change the Opacity to 35% – Adjust Tone accordingly

Now that I have learnt the basics in Photoshop and have a couple of apps that I can Cross-app with I can begin to look at my designs and notes and plan my glitch images.

Contact sheets for trials, practices and experiments in glitching my images can be found here.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Powered by

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: