How Do I Create Wind Effects in Photoshop?


Unless you specialize in animated GIFs, depicting any sense of motion can be a challenge in graphic design, unless you already know about the Wind filter in Photoshop CC 2013. This filter disrupts the edges in objects with a series of thin horizontal lines, creating an easily-recognizable windblown effect. The Wind filter works well with photos too, but keep in mind that it's a stylized filter. No one is going to mistake a Photoshop wind effect for real wind.

Photoshop's Wind filter works on photos and rasterized shapes and text.
(Image courtesy of Adobe.)
Step 1

Open any picture in Photoshop. Click the "Filter" menu, select "Stylize" and click "Wind" to open the Wind filter window.

Select "Wind" under the Filter menu options.
Image courtesy of Adobe.
Step 2

Select the "Wind" option to add a wind effect. Specify if you want the wind to be blowing from the left or right.

The Wind filter blowing from the right.
Image courtesy of Adobe.
Step 3

Select the "Blast" option to illustrate things like hurricane force winds, super fast speeds, or any explosive actions.

The Wind filter's Blast setting.
Image courtesy of Adobe.
Step 4

Select the "Stagger" option to demonstrate general motion, or objects that are moving in more than one direction at a time. This is a fun filter if you happen to be editing a photo of your uncle dancing at a wedding, for instance.

The Wind filter's Stagger setting.
Image courtesy of Adobe.
Step 5

Examine the photo to be sure you have the effect you want. Press "Ctrl-F" to apply the filter a second time to add more wind. Alternatively, click the "Filter" menu and then the "Wind" option at the top of the menu list to apply all the previous settings.

Apply more wind by applying the Filter again.
Image courtesy of Adobe.
Step 6

Click the "Edit" menu and select "Fade Wind" if you overdid it with the filter. A small window opens with a slider. Drag the slider to the left to reduce the filter's effect.

Fade the filter to reduce the amount of wind.
Image courtesy of Adobe.
Step 7

Apply the Wind filter to any objects in Photoshop, including shapes and text to give them a sense of motion. Note that the filter works only on one layer at a time. It won't work on vector images, so Photoshop prompts you to rasterize vector-based objects before applying the filter.

The Wind filter applied to a custom shape and text.
Image courtesy of Adobe.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you want to illustrate a wind that blows up or down, use the Image Rotation options under the Image menu to rotate the object first. After applying the Wind filter, rotate the object back to its original orientation.
  • The wind filter is usually effective at limiting itself to foreground objects. However, if you want only parts of your photo to appear wind-blown, duplicate the photo's layer first. After you apply the filter, use the Eraser Tool to remove the wind from objects you want to appear stationary.


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