The iridescent effect is one of the many useful features employed in Photoshop to create unique features. Unlike many, this effect serves to create holographic images in Photoshop work. To achieve this effect, here is a step-by-step instruction to guide you through it all.

Key takeaways

  • After liquifying the gradient, the rasterizing feature helps to convert the Gradient fill from Vector to Bitmap.
  • The smudge tool in the liquified interface is to mix the colours in a unique wavy feature.
  • To get the iridescent effect, the gradient layer has to be first, followed by the picture and then the background layer.

photoshop iridiscent effect featured image

Step-by-step instructions on how to use the iridescent effect in Photoshop

A white canvas on photoshop

Step 1: Create a new canvas

To get started, your first point is to create a new canvas to work. To do that, proceed to the top-left side of your screen and click on Files. In the drop-down menu that shows up, click on New, and move to the main screen to fill the dialogue box that will appear on your screen. Once filled, proceed to click Ok. A fresh canvas is ready for you to use.

Selecting the Gradient option from the adjustment menu

Step 2: Gradient

Your next step is to use the Gradient feature. To activate the gradient feature, go to the right-hand side of the screen, right atop the Layer mask menu, you’ll find the Adjustment menu. Click on it, and on the drop-down menu that appears, click on Gradient.  

The dialogue box for Gradient Fill

Step 3: Gradient selection setting

Once you click on the Gradient menu, a dialogue box with Gradient type options appears on your screen. Please select any of the types available on the dialogue box and edit them according to your taste. For this step-by-step guideline, the chosen type is the black and white Gradient. 

The dialogue box for Gradient Editor

Step 4: Editing the Gradient type

After choosing your Gradient type, the black and white Gradient is the preferred one; go ahead to edit it according to your taste. Once you select the type you want, another dialogue box will pop up with Gradient Editor Information for you to tweak the values and specifications based on your discretion.   

You can change anything you want. Here, the designer decided to change the colour of the Gradient from black to another. To do that, click on the Colour box, and on the arrow, a drop-down of different colours appears. Pick your preferred one.

Dialogue boxes of Gradient Fill and Gradient Editor

Step 5: Color edit

Once you click on the box, different colors appear. On the Gradient slide right on the dialogue box, you can add as many colors as you wish. To add the colors, click on the Gradient slider and double-click. Once you do that, you add another color to the total composition. You can add as many colors as you want, as seen above.

The dialogue box of Gradient Fill

Step 6: Gradient editing

After you finish with your colour selection, the result is seen in the above image. The second dialogue box closes, and on the original Gradient menu box, you can make other adjustments like the “style” to select anyone you want. Once completed, click Ok on the dialogue box to accept all your changes.

Selecting the option "Liquify" from the filter menu

Step 7: Liquify

While still on the Gradient layer of your work, the next step is to liquify it. Proceed to the top menu bar on the screen and click on the Filter menu. On the drop-down menu, select Liquify. In a faster and easier way, to get the Liquify feature, press Shift + Ctrl + X. 

The dialogue box of Adobe Photoshop CC asks to rasterize the fill

Step 8: Rasterization

After selecting the Liquify feature, a dialogue box requesting your permission to Rasterize the fill feature you wish to apply on the Gradient layer. The reason behind the Rasterization feature is to convert the Gradient fill from Vector to Bitmap. Click Ok to get the process started.   

The window box of liquified interface

Step 9: Liquified interface with the smudge effect

The illustration above shows the Liquified interface. To proceed, scroll to the left-hand side of the Liquified interface to the Smudge tool. With a right click on it, smudge the Liquified interface’s surface to create a unique wavy feature, mixing the colours on the screen.

The smudged effect on the liquified interface

Step 10: The smudged effect

Use the Smudge tool across the Liquified interface to create a desired interwoven/wavy effect that you want on your screen. Once you are satisfied with the effect you have there, proceed to the screen’s right side and click Ok.

Wavy and mixed colours on the photoshop canvas

Step 11: The smudged effect on Photoshop

Your final work appears on your Photoshop screen, back on the Gradient layer, as in the image above.

An image in photoshop

Step 12: Picture placement

For this next step, you’ll need a picture to perform it. Find a suitable image and get it on your Photoshop. To move the picture to Photoshop, drag it from the desktop to Photoshop, creating a third layer on the screen.

Smudged gradient on photoshop

Step 13: Placing the picture underneath the Gradient

Once you move your picture to Photoshop, re-arrange the layer settings. Relocate the newly inserted picture layer to be right below the Gradient layer, thereby making the Layer arrangement of the Gradient layer first, followed by the Picture layer and the Background layer.

Selecting the "colour" option in the blending mode

Step 14: Blending mode

After re-arranging, return to the Gradient-fill layer, and change the Blending mode to colour. To do that, Go to the Layer menu; right underneath, you’ll see Kind. Click on it, and on the drop-down menu that appears, click on colour.

The iridescent effect in photoshop

Step 15: The iridescent effect

After changing the Blending mode, the final product you’ll have on your Photoshop canvas is blended with the iridescent effect.


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Graphic designers, who are after creating unique and out of the ordinary holographic effects on Photoshop, employ the iridescent feature. If you are new to the entire game with a thirst for uniqueness, follow the step below to get the perfect iridescent feature on your work.