Photoshop Tutorial : Fake InfraRed !

In this tutorial, you’ll see how to use the Channel Mixer, Gaussian Blur and Film Grain in Photoshop to create the impression of an photograph which has been taken using a camera with an infrared filter.

The effect works really well and can completely change the look of a photograph.
1. Open the photograph that you want to work with.

2. Make a duplicate of the background layer (in the layers palette drag “background” over the new layer icon at the bottom of the palette next to the trash can).

3. Select the new duplicate layer and rename it “Infrared” by double clicking on the layer name.

4. Create a new Channel Mixer adjustment layer by clicking on the New Adjustment Layer button at the bottom of the layers palette. Choose “Channel Mixer” from the pop-up menu.

5. The Channel Mixer dialog box will open.

6. Make sure the “Preview” option is checked so you can see how your photo will change. Then check the “Monochrome” option on the bottom left of the dialog box. (Leave it unchecked for a bizarre color effect.)

7. Set Red = + 100%, Green = + 200% and Blue = – 200%

8. Use the slider on the Constant option to reduce the brightness. I set this picture -10%.

9. Click OK. Your image will now start to have a hint of infrared about it.

10. Merge all the visible layers by choosing Layer > Merge Visible.

11. Create another duplicate layer on top of the existing layer.

12. On the document window, click on the corner of the window and drag out until there is at least one inch of gray showing all around your image window.

13. With the topmost duplicate layer selected press Ctrl + T to Free Transform the layer. With the Shift key held down, drag out each of the corner adjustment handles until the image expands out equally into the gray area by about 1/4 to ½ an inch. Hit Enter on the keyboard to apply the transformation.

14. Go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur and move the slider up to around 4.5 and clickOK.

15. On the layers palette go to the layers tab and change the blending mode from normal to Screen. Now adjust the opacity slider down to approximately 50%, or what ever suits your image best.

At this point you should have a nice glow or halo around parts of the image.

16. Choose Filter > Artistic > Film Grain. Drag the slider to between 4 and 6 to add a visible level of graininess to the photograph. Click OK to exit the Filter dialog box.

Your image is now complete and you will have achieved a reasonable if not perfect impression of a photograph taken using an Infrared filter.

Other examples: The beautiful west coast of Ireland.

The Ha’penny Bridge, Dublin


  1. Paul says:

    Good basic tutorial, could do with updating for PS7 and CS2/3…

    I think the channel mixing stage could be a bit heavy handed for some photos, and I’d advise people to play with much lower amounts of green [70-90%] and much higher levels of blue [-70%] if you get too much density / burn out with the suggested values…

    Also, ‘sharpen more’ and a bit of careful burning can bring back a little detail and depth/shape if your photo looks a little too indistinct – apply this after a light gausian blur [4.0].

    Pauls last blog post..Beobachter

  2. Jennifer Farley says:

    Hi Paul

    Thanks for the extra tips. I agree that sometimes the images can look a bit too blurry by the end so I particularly like the burning back in tip.

  3. Dr Docktor says:

    Sorry but this is not a infrared or a fake i/r.
    You can make amazing IR’s with Photoshop but your tut is wrong here 😉

  4. Jennifer Farley says:

    Dr Docktor are you suggesting that this is a fake fake? 🙂

    What suggestions would you make?

  5. ed says:

    (oooh Dr, Are you a consultant with the HSE)

    My tip, is do no.15 (reduce opacity of second duplicate layer) before no.12 & 13 (free transform) so you can see how much of a “halo” effect you are creating.

  6. Jennifer Farley says:

    Hi Ed, How did you know about my dual life – photoshopper by day HSE consultant by night?

    Thanks for the tips!

  7. ed says:

    the “HSE” thing is directed at Dr Docktor.

    Otherwise, I am finding your tutorials, v.good, and enjoyably short.

    Thanks very much

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