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Gimp Tutorial: Orton effect

How to use Gimp to create the Orton Effect, this effect consists in a soften blur that creates a magical and mysterious aura.

Italian Web master: Bad English, but good tutorials.

Orton effect is an effect that gives something "magic" to the photos. It has been been used mainly in the 80's and has been named after Michael Orton, that is the first photographer that mainly used this technique. The original idea is to take two photos, one perfectly focused and another one blurred, but with modern softwares is easier to digitally blur the second shot. Everything gets a glowing aurea and a soft focus. With a few steps you will easily get the Orton effect with Gimp. This tutorial is specific for Gimp, but with a little bit of imagination you can adapt it to any other photo editing software.

normal photo

Without Orton effect

orton effect

With Orton effect

First of all you have to choose the right photo, something that can look good with a softness filter, as a girl or children portrait, a landscape, or anything else you like. For this Gimp Orton effect tutorial I choosed a long exposure of an artificial waterfall, with a particular light.

Open the photo in Gimp, than duplicate the layer. You have to move the mouse cursor over the actual layer on the Layers window, click Right Mouse button 🠞 Duplicate Layer.

first step of Gimp's orton effect is duplicate layer

Now we need to apply a blur, open Filters 🠞 Blur 🠞 Gaussian Blur and set a correct amount. The number you have to write depends on the image resolution, you should be able to distinguish the main shapes, but any detail has to be indistinguishable, for a medium resolution images 10/15 pixels should be enough, feel free to try different settings: Orton effect is fast to achieve, so you can try different versions.

filters blur gaussian blur 10 pixels gaussian

Be sure thet the the blurred layer is on the top, then change the Blend Mode to Soft Light and set the Opacity to 50%.

soft light

Now we need to duplicate again the soft light blurred layer. Click with the Right Mouse button on the upper layer and select Duplicate Layer, than change the Blend Mode to Addition and Opacity to 40%.

duplicate again addition

Last step is optional, and should be used only on dark photos. First you have to right click with the Right Mouse button on the layers window and choose Flatten Image, then Open Colors 🠞 Brightness-Contrast and set Brightness 🠞 20 and Contrast 🠞 10 to enhance a little bit the image.

normal photo

Without Orton effect

orton effect

With Orton effect

If you liked this tutorial, you can press the back button down there, and you will find all the many other guides we wrote about photo editing with Gimp, or you can go there to take a look to our photography tutorials.

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