Published on January 28, 2022

Create an infrared thermal camera effect

In this blog I’ll show you how to create an infrared thermal camera (heat map) effect in Adobe Photoshop. If you want to download the image I’m using, click here.

Thermal camera effect

Open the image you want to edit. Add a gradient map adjustment layer.

Click on the gradient to adjust it.

We’ll create a rainbow gradient. It needs to have 6 stops, so add 4 extra stops to the black and white gradient. You can do this by clicking somewhere under the gradient (where the stops are shown).

As you can see in the image above, the gradient is now almost completely black. So now it’s time to add some color to it. Change the color by double clicking on the color stop or click on the color box at the bottom.

From left to right, the color stops should be: red, yellow, green, light blue, dark blue and pink.

You can change the placement of the color stops to adjust the amount of each color. So move them and look at your image to see the changes.

If you want to use this gradient more often, you can save it. Change the name of the gradient (I named it ‘rainbow’) and click ‘new‘. The gradient is now saved as a preset.


If you select ‘Reverse‘, the colors of your gradient are turned around. You can try this to see if you like it (and if you don’t, simply uncheck it).

You can also change the method to see what that does to your image.

If you want to adjust your gradient, select your gradient map layer and then click on the gradient to adjust it.

Apply to other images

If you saved the preset, it’s easy to apply it to other images:

  • Open a new file
  • Add a gradient map adjustment layer
  • Click on the gradient
  • Look for the rainbow gradient in your presets
  • Make adjustments if you want

And that’s how you create an infrared thermal camera (heat map) effect in Adobe Photoshop. You can see the result below!

thermal camera

Want to learn more about Adobe Photoshop? Check out my other blogs or take a look at my YouTube channel

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Infrared thermal camera effect in Photoshop

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