How To Create Twirl Art In Photoshop

How To Create Twirl Art In Photoshop
How To Create Twirl Art In Photoshop_600717de76f96.jpeg

How To Create Twirl Art In Photoshop

How To Create Twirl Art In Photoshop

In this tutorial, I’ll show you how to turn your photos into colorful, abstract twirl art effects in Photoshop! Twirl art is where we take an image, blur it, and then twirl it around its center. We then make a copy of the effect, twirl it in the opposite direction, and then blend the two versions together. We can even take things further and mirror the effect to create symmetrical twirl art!

Here’s an example of what the main effect will look like when we’re done. The colors will depend entirely on your image:

” alt=”How to make symmetrical twirl art in Photoshop” width=”703″ height=”470″ data-lazy-src=”https://pe-images.s3.amazonaws.com/photo-effects/cc/twirl-art/photoshop-symmetrical-twirl-art.jpg” />

The symmetrical twirl art effect.

Let’s get started!

How To Create Twirl Art In Photoshop

For this tutorial, I’m using Photoshop CC but any version from CS3 and up will work. You can also follow along with my video of this tutorial on our YouTube channel. Or download this tutorial as a print-ready PDF!

Step 1: Open your image

Open the image you want to use for your twirl art effect. I’ll use this image that I downloaded from Adobe Stock:

” alt=”Selecting the Duplicate command under the Image menu in Photoshop” width=”230″ height=”146″ data-lazy-src=”https://pe-images.s3.amazonaws.com/photo-effects/cc/twirl-art/duplicate-image-photoshop.png” />

Going to Image > Duplicate.

In the Duplicate Image dialog box, name the image “Twirl”, and then click OK:

tabs along the top:

” alt=”Choosing the Image Size command in Photoshop” width=”230″ height=”136″ data-lazy-src=”https://pe-images.s3.amazonaws.com/photo-effects/cc/twirl-art/image-size-photoshop.png” />

Going to Image > Image Size.

This opens the Image Size dialog box. If we look at the Dimensions in the upper right, we see that my image currently has a width of 4500 px and a height of 2999 px:

” alt=”Resampling the image to 50 percent of its original size in Photoshop” width=”661″ height=”338″ data-lazy-src=”https://pe-images.s3.amazonaws.com/photo-effects/cc/twirl-art/image-size-dialog-box.jpg” />

Making the image smaller.

I’ll zoom in on the image by going up to the View menu and choosing Fit on Screen:

” alt=”The small version of the image that we’ll be using to create the Twirl Art effect” width=”705″ height=”397″ data-lazy-src=”https://pe-images.s3.amazonaws.com/photo-effects/cc/twirl-art/small-image-photoshop.jpg” />

The small version of the image is ready to go.

Related: How to enlarge images without losing quality in Photoshop CC

Step 4: Convert the image into a smart object

Before we can start adding smart filters, we first need to convert our image into a smart object. In the Layers panel, we see the image on the Background layer. Double-click on the name “Background” to rename it:

” alt=”Renaming the Background layer in Photoshop” width=”430″ height=”158″ data-lazy-src=”https://pe-images.s3.amazonaws.com/photo-effects/cc/twirl-art/new-layer-dialog-box-photoshop.png” />

Renaming the Background layer “Photo”.

Then, click the menu icon in the upper right of the Layers panel:

” alt=”Choosing the Convert to Smart Object command in Photoshop” width=”265″ height=”133″ data-lazy-src=”https://pe-images.s3.amazonaws.com/photo-effects/cc/twirl-art/convert-to-smart-object.png” />

Choosing “Convert to Smart Object” from the menu.

A smart object icon appears in the lower right of the “Photo” layer’s preview thumbnail, letting us know that the layer is now a smart object:

” alt=”Choosing the Mezzotint filter as the first filter for the Twirl Art effect” width=”184″ height=”150″ data-lazy-src=”https://pe-images.s3.amazonaws.com/photo-effects/cc/twirl-art/choose-mezzotint-filter-photoshop.png” />

Going to Filter > Pixelate > Mezzotint.

This opens the Mezzotint filter’s dialog box. This filter adds random, high contrast and highly saturated strokes, lines or dots to the image depending on which setting you choose for the Type option at the bottom. This will add more detail, contrast and color to the effect. There’s no “correct” setting to choose here, so we’ll come back later and experiment. For now, I’ll choose Long Strokes. Click OK to close the dialog box:

” alt=”The image after applying the Mezzotint filter in Photoshop” width=”703″ height=”470″ data-lazy-src=”https://pe-images.s3.amazonaws.com/photo-effects/cc/twirl-art/image-mezzotint-filter-photoshop.png” />

The image after applying the Mezzotint filter.

If we look in the Layers panel, we see the Mezzotint filter listed as our first smart filter:

” alt=”Choosing the Radial Blur filter in Photoshop” width=”178″ height=”125″ data-lazy-src=”https://pe-images.s3.amazonaws.com/photo-effects/cc/twirl-art/choose-radial-blur-filter.png” />

Going to Filter > Blur > Radial Blur.

In the Radial Blur dialog box, set the Amount to 100, the Blur Method to Zoom, and the Quality to Draft. Using the lowest quality setting will let the filter run as quickly as possible:

” alt=”The first pass of the Radial Blur filter” width=”703″ height=”470″ data-lazy-src=”https://pe-images.s3.amazonaws.com/photo-effects/cc/twirl-art/image-radial-blur-first-pass.jpg” />

The first pass of the Radial Blur filter.

Step 7: Apply Radial Blur a second time

To apply Radial Blur a second time, go back up to the Filter menu, and because Radial Blur was the last filter we used, you’ll find it at the top of the list:

” alt=”Reapplying Radial Blur using the same settings” width=”283″ height=”282″ data-lazy-src=”https://pe-images.s3.amazonaws.com/photo-effects/cc/twirl-art/radial-blur-dialog-box.png” />

Reapplying Radial Blur using the same settings.

Photoshop applies the filter a second time, and here’s the result. It still looks noisy, but we’ll clean it up next:

” alt=”Again selecting Radial Blur from the top of the Filter menu in Photoshop” width=”287″ height=”117″ data-lazy-src=”https://pe-images.s3.amazonaws.com/photo-effects/cc/twirl-art/select-radial-blur-again.png” />

Again selecting Radial Blur from the top of the Filter menu.

This time, leave the Amount set to 100 and the Blur Method set to Zoom, but change the Quality from Draft to Best:

” alt=”The third pass of the Radial Blur filter” width=”703″ height=”470″ data-lazy-src=”https://pe-images.s3.amazonaws.com/photo-effects/cc/twirl-art/image-radial-blur-third-pass.jpg” />

The higher quality of the third pass cleans up the effect nicely.

In the Layers panel, we see all three passes of the Radial Blur filter listed as separate smart filters above the Mezzotint filter:

Related: Create a Radial Blur action zoom effect!

Step 9: Apply the Twirl filter

To add the twirl to the twirl art effect, we’ll use Photoshop’s Twirl filter. Go up to the Filter menu, choose Distort, and then choose Twirl:

” alt=”Twirling the image with the Twirl filter in Photoshop” width=”442″ height=”370″ data-lazy-src=”https://pe-images.s3.amazonaws.com/photo-effects/cc/twirl-art/twirl-art_twirl-filter-dialog-box-photoshop.jpg” />

Use the Angle slider to add the twirl.

Click OK to close the dialog box, and here we see the image swirling around its center:

” alt=”The Layers panel showing the Twirl smart filter” width=”275″ height=”198″ data-lazy-src=”https://pe-images.s3.amazonaws.com/photo-effects/cc/twirl-art/edit-twirl-smart-filter-photoshop.png” />

You can edit the twirl amount by re-opening the Twirl smart filter.

You can also go back and try different settings for the Mezzotint filter. Double-click on it’s name to re-open the dialog box:

” alt=”Smart filters stacked on top of this filter will not preview while this filter is being edited” width=”429″ height=”201″ data-lazy-src=”https://pe-images.s3.amazonaws.com/photo-effects/cc/twirl-art/smart-filter-warning.png” />

The other smart filters will be turned off while you’re editing the Mezzotint filter.

In the Mezzotint filter dialog box, I’ll change the Type from Long Strokes to something different, like Coarse Dots, and then I’ll click OK to accept it:

” alt=”The twirl effect with the Mezzotint filter set to Coarse Dots” width=”702″ height=”471″ data-lazy-src=”https://pe-images.s3.amazonaws.com/photo-effects/cc/twirl-art/twirl-effect-coarse-dots.jpg” />

The twirl effect with the Mezzotint filter set to Coarse Dots.

Comparing the two settings

You can quickly compare your new filter setting with the previous setting by pressing Ctrl+Z (Win) / Command+Z (Mac) on your keyboard. Press it once to undo your last step and view the previous filter setting (Long Strokes). Press it again to redo the step and view the new setting (Coarse Dots). In my case, I like the high contrast version better, so I’ll stick with Long Strokes. You can try out the other Type settings as well to see which one you like best for your image.

Step 11: Duplicate the smart object

Next, we need to make a copy of our smart object. In the Layers panel, click on the smart object and drag it down onto the New Layer icon:

” alt=”The Layers panel showing two copies of the Smart Object with the Smart Filters applied” width=”275″ height=”275″ data-lazy-src=”https://pe-images.s3.amazonaws.com/photo-effects/cc/twirl-art/smart-object-copy.png” />

The Layers panel showing two separate versions of the effect.

Step 12: Twirl the copy in the opposite direction

Double-click on the Twirl smart filter below the copy to open its dialog box:

” alt=”Changing the angle of the twirl to the opposite direction” width=”442″ height=”370″ data-lazy-src=”https://pe-images.s3.amazonaws.com/photo-effects/cc/twirl-art/twirl-filter-opposite-angle.jpg” />

Changing the angle to the opposite direction.

And here’s the result, with the copy swirling in the opposite direction:

” alt=”Changing the blend mode of the smart object to Darken” width=”289″ height=”178″ data-lazy-src=”https://pe-images.s3.amazonaws.com/photo-effects/cc/twirl-art/darken-blend-mode.png” />

Changing the blend mode from Normal to Darken.

The Darken blend mode looks at both layers, or both smart objects in this case, and keeps whichever pixels between them that are darker:

” alt=”Changing the blend mode of the smart object to Lighten” width=”288″ height=”176″ data-lazy-src=”https://pe-images.s3.amazonaws.com/photo-effects/cc/twirl-art/lighten-blend-mode.png” />

Changing the blend mode from Darken to Lighten.

Lighten is the opposite of Darken. It keeps whichever pixels between the two layers that are lighter:

” alt=”Changing the blend mode of the smart object to Pin Light” width=”288″ height=”176″ data-lazy-src=”https://pe-images.s3.amazonaws.com/photo-effects/cc/twirl-art/pin-light-blend-mode.png” />

Trying the Pin Light blend mode.

We see that Pin Light creates a combination of the Darken and Lighten modes:

” alt=”How to create twirl art in Photoshop” width=”702″ height=”471″ data-lazy-src=”https://pe-images.s3.amazonaws.com/photo-effects/cc/twirl-art/twirl-art-lighten-blend-mode.jpg” />

Lighten creates the best version of the three.

Step 14: Experiment again with the filter settings

At this point, you can still go back and experiment with different filter settings for either of the two smart objects. Just double-click on a Twirl or Mezzotint filter to re-open its dialog box and make your changes. For example, I’ll double-click on the Mezzotint filter for the “Photo copy” smart object:

” alt=”Smart filters stacked on top of this filter will not preview while this filter is being edited” width=”429″ height=”201″ data-lazy-src=”https://pe-images.s3.amazonaws.com/photo-effects/cc/twirl-art/smart-filter-warning.png” />

The other smart filters will be turned off while you’re editing the Mezzotint filter.

Then, I’ll change the Type option from Long Strokes to the same Coarse Dots setting we tried earlier:

” alt=”A comparison of the twirl art effect with different Mezzotint filter settings” width=”802″ height=”272″ data-lazy-src=”https://pe-images.s3.amazonaws.com/photo-effects/cc/twirl-art/twirl-two-mezzotint-filter-settings.jpg” />

The effect with the Mezzotint filter set to Long Strokes (left) and Coarse Dots (right).

You can also try turning off one of the Radial Blur filters for the “Photo copy” smart object. This will add a bit more sharpness to the effect and bump up the contrast. You’ll want to leave the top Radial Blur filter on (the one directly below the Twirl filter) since that’s the one we applied with the highest quality. But you can turn off either (or both) of the other two Radial Blur filters below it by clicking the filter’s visibility icon. Click it again to turn the filter back on:

” alt=”The low resolution twirl art effect is done” width=”703″ height=”470″ data-lazy-src=”https://pe-images.s3.amazonaws.com/photo-effects/cc/twirl-art/photoshop-twirl-art-effect.jpg” />

The final result.

Creating The High Resolution Version

If you created a smaller version of your image back at the beginning of the tutorial, then once you’re happy with the twirl effect, you’ll want to swap out the smaller version with the original high resolution image. Here’s how to do it.

Step 15: Select the original image document

First, switch over to the document that holds your original image by clicking on its tab:

” alt=”Choosing the Select All command in Photoshop” width=”245″ height=”111″ data-lazy-src=”https://pe-images.s3.amazonaws.com/photo-effects/cc/twirl-art/select-all.png” />

Going to Select > All.

Then go up to the Edit menu and choose Copy:

” alt=”Selecting the twirl effect document in Photoshop” width=”577″ height=”123″ data-lazy-src=”https://pe-images.s3.amazonaws.com/photo-effects/cc/twirl-art/select-twirl-document.png” />

Selecting the “Twirl” document.

Step 18: Replace the contents of the smart object

In the “Twirl” document, double-click on either of the smart object thumbnails in the Layers panel:

” alt=”The contents of the smart object open in a third document” width=”561″ height=”122″ data-lazy-src=”https://pe-images.s3.amazonaws.com/photo-effects/cc/twirl-art/smart-object-document.png” />

The contents of the smart object open in a third document.

Paste the original, full size image into the document by going up to the Edit menu and choosing Paste:

” alt=”The original image is too big to fit in the document” width=”703″ height=”470″ data-lazy-src=”https://pe-images.s3.amazonaws.com/photo-effects/cc/twirl-art/image-cropped.jpg” />

Only part of the original image is visible in the smart object document.

To view the entire image, go up to the Image menu and choose Reveal All:

” alt=”The full size image now fits inside the smart object” width=”703″ height=”470″ data-lazy-src=”https://pe-images.s3.amazonaws.com/photo-effects/cc/twirl-art/original.jpg” />

The full size image now fits inside the smart object.

Step 19: Save and close the “Photo.psb” document

To officially replace the contents of the smart object with the original image, we need to save the document. Go up to the File menu and choose Save:

” alt=”The progress bar showing the smart object contents being updated” width=”482″ height=”103″ data-lazy-src=”https://pe-images.s3.amazonaws.com/photo-effects/cc/twirl-art/updating-smart-objects.png” />

Updating a smart object can take a while.

When Photoshop is done saving the document, you can close it by going up to the File menu and choosing Close:

” alt=”The twirl effect is too big to fit inside the document” width=”703″ height=”470″ data-lazy-src=”https://pe-images.s3.amazonaws.com/photo-effects/cc/twirl-art/twirl-effect-cropped.jpg” />

This time, the twirl effect is too big to fit.

To reveal the entire effect, go back up to the Image menu and once again choose Reveal All:

” alt=”Again choosing the Reveal All command in Photoshop” width=”482″ height=”102″ data-lazy-src=”https://pe-images.s3.amazonaws.com/photo-effects/cc/twirl-art/rendering-smart-filter.png” />

Rendering the high resolution version of the effect.

When it’s done, the final result appears in its more detailed, high-resolution glory:

Creating Symmetrical Twirl Art

At this point, the main twirl art effect is complete. But let’s take it one step further and create a symmetrical version. Here’s how to do it.

Step 21: Merge both smart objects onto a new layer

In the Layers panel, make sure the “Photo copy” smart object at the top is selected:

” alt=”Merging the twirl art effect onto a new layer” width=”275″ height=”181″ data-lazy-src=”https://pe-images.s3.amazonaws.com/photo-effects/cc/twirl-art/merged-twirl-effect-layer.png” />

A merged copy of the effect appears above the smart objects.

Step 22: Flip the layer horizontally

Go up to the Edit menu, choose Transform, and then choose Flip Horizontal:

” alt=”The result after flipping the twirl art effect horizontally” width=”703″ height=”470″ data-lazy-src=”https://pe-images.s3.amazonaws.com/photo-effects/cc/twirl-art/twirl-art-effect-flipped.jpg” />

The effect after flipping it horizontally.

Step 23: Change the blend mode of the merged layer

Finally, to blend the flipped version in with the original, simply change the blend mode of the merged layer (“Layer 1”) to either Darken, Lighten or Pin Light. Choose the one that gives you the best result. With my image, the Darken mode works best:

” alt=”How to create symmetrical twirl art in Photoshop” width=”703″ height=”470″ data-lazy-src=”https://pe-images.s3.amazonaws.com/photo-effects/cc/twirl-art/photoshop-symmetrical-twirl-art.jpg” />

The final result.

And there we have it! That’s how to create twirl art, and symmetrical twirl art, using smart filters and layer blend modes in Photoshop! For a similar effect, check out our Flip, Mirror and Rotate Images tutorial. Or visit our Photo Effects section for more tutorials!

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