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Photoshop’s Twirl effect Tutorial

Photoshop’s Twirl effect Tutorial

I first saw this some considerable time ago but thought nothing of it, then I saw it again a few weeks ago, then finally some Pro mates of mine were playing around with it so of course I had to as well lol

This may not be something of much use in the typical day-to-day kind of work I do, but hey, sometimes its just good to play

Here’s an example of the Twirl, done my way, so its symmetrical – I like symmetry best in my abstract art

Barnsley Wedding Photographer showing How to do Photoshop's Twirl effect

And as you’re no doubt wondering what this started life as, here’s the donor image – a Bride’s bouquet from a recent Wedding at Kings Croft Hotel, Pontefract shot by me acting as a Barnsley Wedding Photographer

Barnsley Wedding Photographer showing Photoshop's Twirl effect - donor


At this point I’m guessing you’re thinking… How the Hell did that bunch of flowers turn into that dramatic Arty image ??? !!!

Here’s how you too can create this Photoshop Twirl effect, and with a bit of symmetry added…

1 – open your donor image in Photoshop


2 – goto – Filter / Pixelate / Mezzotint – and use these settings

Screen Shot 2015-09-10 at 07.36.31


3 – goto – Filter / Blur / Radial Blur – and use these settings

Screen Shot 2015-09-10 at 07.48.00

4 – repeat stage 3 two or three times, your choice as to how many


5 – Duplicate the Layer and set the blend mode to Lighten – though you can use several of the blend modes to give different effects, I used Darken and Multiply on a few images I’ve tried, as well as Soft Light – try them ALL and see which you like, there’s no set rule as to how to do this so the options are virtually infinite

Screen Shot 2015-09-10 at 07.49.56

6 – on your new Layer (so the top one) – goto – Filter / Distort / Twirl – and use these settings

Screen Shot 2015-09-10 at 07.54.46

7 – on the original background Layer (the bottom one) – goto – Filter / Distort / Twirl – and use these settings – NOTE – one use of the Twirl is at PLUS 100 while the other Layer is at MINUS 100, this it to make the twirl patterns go in opposite directions

Screen Shot 2015-09-10 at 07.55.26

At this point your Twirl is complete as far as most explanations go, but I consider this stage to be the START of messing about to get the effect you want !!!

You can use the different blend modes to increase or decrease the contrast in the effect; you can increase or decrease the Saturation to alter the colours; you can adjust the range of colours; you can use Levels or Curves to further mess about with the colours and contrast; or as I did you can also drop your image into one of any Plugins you have to use another whole range of variables – your options are ENDLESS

If you’re happy with your Twirl at this stage then just flatten your image and save in whatever format you like, it WON’T be symmetrical at this stage


How to create symmetry…

8 – after you’ve chosen your blend mode, opacity etc. flatten the image – then duplicate it again so you have two Layers that are exactly the same – on the top Layer – goto Edit / Transform / Flip Horizontal, or Flip Vertical, whichever you feel will give the better composition to your image – your choice of course

You now have the same image reversed on top of your original version of it, all you’re going to do now it decide which half you’d like to be symmetrical and delete the other half so you can see through your top Layer to the original image below


9 – drag a Guideline to the middle of your image – it will ‘snap’ into place perfectly for you

NOTE: the black borders on the following is simply my Photoshop background as these are screengrabs, its NOT part of the image I’m working on

Screen Shot 2015-09-10 at 08.07.41


10 – now using the Rectangular Marque Tool with Feather set to 0 (zero) select half of your image – Photoshop makes this easy for you as it snaps to the edges and highlights when you’ve selected it all

 Screen Shot 2015-09-10 at 08.08.31

11 – using the Eraser Tool set to 100% now simply erase the selection you’ve made to see through to the bottom Layer and Hey Presto you have a perfectly symmetrical image

 Screen Shot 2015-09-10 at 08.14.08

12 – flatten your Layers, remove the selection and Guide and you have your perfectly symmetrical image – which you can again start to work on adding contrast, or saturation, make square, etc. to your heart’s content

Here’s the above again this time with the final image dropped into Topaz Clarity at my default settings to add more contrast, saturation and drama – how easy is that !!!

Barnsley Wedding Photographer showing How to do Photoshop's Twirl effect final



Just to show what a lovely piece of Art you can create from ANY image that has a range of colours or tones in it, here’s one I did to create an ethereal ‘angel’ type image from my Bride shot on the left. Black & White images clearly work too, this one was toned bluish

Barnsley Wedding Photographer showing How to do Photoshop's Twirl effect on a Bride

Have fun

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please show your results



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