Show The Glow

I’m sure most designers are familiar with the “outer glow†technique. It was used alot back in the days when people loved to use Adobe Photoshop filters. I’m sure we all have bad memories of picking up Photoshop for the first time and going “wow – Outer Glow! Let me use it everywhereâ€. Then after a while we realised that just because we could use filters didn’t make us designers. We realised that with design we need to be smart, slick, and subtle. At that stage the outer glow went on the decrease. Currently we see that this trend is only used by a minority of designers – probably due to the bad taste left in our mouths because of the over-use of it in the early days.

However we would like to introduce it again. Not in the ugly “over the top, lets go mental†way - but in the subtle clean and simple way. Check out these boys and take your hats off to them for doing such a great job of turning this old technique into something quite special:


2 Advanced


Frazier Media
Phil Renaud

You will undoubtedly note that they have used this technique very subtly. This brings a sophistication and a classy feel to their designs.

So what we want to say is; don’t be afraid to "Show The Glow". Don’t over cook it, just play it subtle and the rewards will be yours. If you want to find out how to do it – please read on into the tutorial. Its a simple technique so you probably know it already, however for those who don’t....

Tutorial – Simple Outer Glow

Ok, it really is easy but just because its easy doesn’t mean you need to add this technique to everything. As we've said before keep things simple. This effect only works well if used gently.

Open Photoshop, start a new document and add some type.


Then go to Layer > Layer Style > Outer Glow. You should get a window like the one below:


Make your adjustments and Bobs your Uncle.


You could just leave it there - however try this:
Duplicate the layer you have just added the filter to. Delete the filter on the copied layer and rasterize it so your layers look like this:


Next put a motion blur on the copied layer. Nothing grand just keep it simple.

Gaussian Blur

Now move it slightly to one side and knock the transparency down.


Why do this you ask? Well it gives it a little extra touch that can make all the difference. Filters always work best if you can combine effects with them and this makes the glow a little more natural and a little less standard than the usual. Have a go and experiment.

Thanks for reading. Any comments most welcome...


Very good...
i liked your works..

Nice to see it back in action!

I would like to stress that the subtlety of the outer glow doesn't just mean how big it is, but how close it's colour is to the background colour.

Big outer glows definitely do work if done well.

Nice article. I've notice, in my experience at least, 3 stages of PhotoShop filter use...

- Amateur over usage
- Renouncing the use of filters and all they stand for
- Figuring out how to properly/subtly use filter to enhance an already kick-a design

Thanks for shedding light on how filters should be used ;)

Thanks for mentioning the logo! I love m_333's stages of filter use - when I was in school I renounced the use of gradients. Pretty funny.

On a different note - I actually don't use the Outer Glow filter all that often. It seems like I inevitably just copy to a new layer, Gaussian Blur it and then fade it back. How old school is that? I always have to remind myself that CS2 has great tools like this that I need to remember to use.