Glitch Art 101: All You Need To Know

Glitch Art refers to the practice of using digital/analog errors on purpose to create art with a glitch/trippy effect. It is often combined with acid art for the psychedelic outlook (distorted, surreal, brightly coloured). This article seeks to dive into the various methods to create Glitch Art, from traditional mediums to digital ones.

Table of Contents:

How to Make Glitch Art

There are multiple methods to create Glitch Art, ranging from Traditional Mediums like Pen and Ink to Digital ones using software tools. In general, we usually use the warping or glitch functions available on the respective software for digital mediums. For traditional medium wise, we will require different colours to outline and showcase the ‘Glitchy’ effect. (i.e. the use of markers and colour pencils)

How to Draw Glitch Art Traditionally

Materials Needed:

  • 2B Pencil
  • Eraser
  • 0.8mm-1.0mm Marker Pen/ Permanent Marker
  • Red and Blue Colour Pencil/ Marker

Steps to Draw Glitch Art Traditionally:

Firstly, we start with a rough sketch of the subject using a 2B pencil. We are using Spongebob and Patrick cartoon characters as a reference in this case.

How to draw glitch art traditionally step 1: Start with a sketch (Spongebob and Patrick)
Step 1: Start with a Sketch

After you’re done with the sketch, outline the drawing using a marker pen or a permanent marker.

How to draw glitch art traditionally step 2: Outline sketch with marker and erase pencil markings
Step 2: Outline with Marker and Erase Pencil Markings

Next, erase the pencil markings. (from the rough sketch)

Afterwards, we used a red pencil/marker to outline the drawing.

How to draw glitch art traditionally step 3: Outline sketch with Red Pencil /Marker
Step 3: Outline with Red Pencil /Marker

The next step involves the use of a blue coloured pencil/marker to outline the drawing.

how to draw glitch art traditionally step 4: Outline with Blue Pencil/ Marker
Step 4: Outline with Blue Pencil/ Marker

*Note: The red outline should be slight to the right (for vertical axis) and above (for horizontal axis) the original black outline. You may use the image above as a reference.

Lastly, we enhance the original outline with the black marker pen/permanent marker. Here’s the final result.

How to draw glitch art traditionally Step 5: Enhance original outline with Black Marker Pen/ Permanent Marker
Step 5: Enhance with Black Marker Pen/ Permanent Marker

Here’s a time lapse of the whole process of creating Glitch Art using Traditional mediums:

Time lapse on How to Draw Glitch Art Traditionally

How to Make Glitch Art in Photoshop

To start with making Glitch Art in Photoshop, have an image saved in your folder to apply the Glitch effects. In this case, we will be using an image from our previous article on Impressionism vs Post Impressionism.  

Firstly, open your image and create a Smart Object.

How to Make Glitch Art in Photoshop Step 1: Convert Image to Smart Object
Step 1: Convert Image to Smart Object

You can do so by right-clicking on your mouse and clicking Convert to Smart Object.

Next, duplicate the layer to have an original layer to fall back on. (in case you make any mistakes). To copy the layer, right-click on your mouse and click Duplicate Layer.

How to Make Glitch Art in Photoshop Step 2: Duplicate Layer and Rename
Step 2: Duplicate Layer and Rename

To avoid confusion, we’ve renamed the duplicate layer as ‘Duplicate Layer 1’.

Creating a Wave Glitch Effect in Photoshop

How to Make Glitch Art in Photoshop Step 3: Filter → Distort → Wave
Step 3: Filter → Distort → Wave

To create a ‘wave’ Glitch effect, toggle to Filter → Distort → Wave.

How to Make Glitch Art in Photoshop Step 4: Adjust wavelength, number of generators, amplitude and scale to Fit Desired Effects
Step 4: Adjust to Fit Desired Effects

Depending on how trippy you want the image to look, you can adjust the wavelength, amplitude, and the number of generators as you deem fit. Photoshop has a preview option while you’re editing so that you can see what the result will look like before confirming. 

To induce different shapes of waves, toggle between sine, triangle and square to achieve your desired shapes.

Creating a Distorted Clipping Mask (i.e. Applying Glitch Effects on Selected Areas)

Creating a Distorted Clipping Mask (i.e. Applying Glitch Effects on Selected Areas) Step 1: Use the Rectangular Marquee Tool and hold the Shift Key to Select the Parts
Step 1: Use the Rectangular Marquee Tool and hold the Shift Key to Select the Parts

Here’s how to create your variation of a distorted clipping mask. To start, we duplicated our initial image and renamed it ‘Duplicate Layer 2’ and moved it to the topmost layer. Next, click on Rectangular Marquee Tool and hold the shift key while selecting different aspects of the image to which you’d like to make the amendments. In this case, we’ve chosen five areas around the image. (determined by the five rectangular borders)

Creating a Distorted Clipping Mask (i.e. Applying Glitch Effects on Selected Areas) Step 2: Select and Mask
Step 2: Select and Mask

Next, create a mask by doing a right-click and clicking Select and Mask. Repeat the previous step of toggling to Filter → Distort → Wave. You’ll achieve the desired wave effect on the selected sections!

Creating a Distorted Clipping Mask (i.e. Applying Glitch Effects on Selected Areas) Step 3:  Filter → Distort → Wave
Step 3: Filter → Distort → Wave

To achieve trippy and Glitchy effects, toggle to Filter DistortZigZag or Swirl or any wacky combinations you wish to try out!

Screenshot of Photoshop Glitch effects:Filter → Distort → ZigZag or Swirl
Filter → Distort → ZigZag or Swirl

How to Make Glitch Art using Procreate

Firstly, Colour the background (Base layer) with random contrasting colours. You may choose your preferred brush and create random patterns for the background.

How to Make Glitch Art using Procreate- start with designing a background of Contrasting Colours (Base Layer)
Background of Contrasting Colours (Base Layer)

Using Glitch Effect in Procreate

Toggle to the Adjustments Tab (on top left corner) → Glitch

After that, you may choose the different types of glitch effects (Artifact/Wave/Signal/Diverge) and adjust the extent of the glitch accordingly.

Procreate Glitch Effect - Artifact
Procreate Glitch Effect – Artifact
Procreate Glitch Effect - Wave
Procreate Glitch Effect – Wave
Procreate Glitch Effect - Signal
Procreate Glitch Effect – Signal
Procreate Glitch Effect - Diverge
Procreate Glitch Effect – Diverge

Feel free to create your own whacky variations of Glitch Art using Procreate! Here’s one by Artist Celine Chia for your consideration.

Glitch Art of Patrick from Spongebob Squarepants (2022), Artist Celine Chia, Procreate
Glitch Art Patrick (2022), Artist Celine Chia, Procreate

Is it Easier to Make Glitch Art Digitally?

In general, it is easier to make Glitch Art digitally as compared to traditional mediums if If you are only planning to edit a reference image. However, making Glitch Art digitally can take a considerable amount of time especially if the artist plans to create the image from scratch, by combining various elements or layers, before applying his or her desired Glitch effects.

Final Words

In general, Glitch Art is a form of art style that seeks to add a certain niche layer of aesthetics and appeal to your art works. Not everyone can appreciate the uniqueness and wackiness of its trippy effects. But for those who do, well now you can create your own variations of Glitch Art!

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