How to Make Swirls in Photoshop


Abstract and decorative swirls can add an artistic and creative touch to photos, images, cards, stationary, wallpapers or any other kind of artwork. You can easily create your own unique and personal swirls using Photoshop. Whether you want to make complex multi-colored swirls or a simple collection of elegant, minimalist curves, Photoshop's powerful set of graphic tools and image filters can help you to design and make the exact style of swirl you need quickly.

Things You'll Need

  • Photoshop
  • Open Photoshop. Click "File" in the top navigation menu and select "New." In the pop-up dialog box, enter "400" pixels in the "Width" and "Height" fields. Click the "Background Contents" drop-down menu and select "Transparent." Click "OK."

  • Select "Black" in the Color window. Go to the Tools menu and select "Paint Bucket." Click anywhere in your Photoshop document. You should now have a black canvas.

  • Go to Filter in the top navigation menu. Go to Render and select "Lens Flare." Leave all the default settings in the dialog box and click "OK."

  • In the Tools menu, select the "Smudge" tool. Go to the tool settings located at the top, under the main menu. In the Brush settings, enter "27" pixels. Select "Normal" for the Mode settings and "50%" for the Strength settings.

  • Start at the center of the lens flare. Smudge from the center of the lens to the outer tip. Create five different smudges so that the smudges roughly create the shape of a starfish.

  • Go to Filter in the main navigation menu. Select Distort > Wave. In the Wave dialog box, click "Randomize" until the preview shows you a general abstract swirl that you like. Click "OK."

  • Go to Layer in the main navigation menu. Select Duplicate Layer > OK > Filter > Distort > Wave. Click "Randomize" again until you see a swirl that you like. Click "OK."

  • Go to the Layers window. Make sure that "Layer 1 copy" is selected. In the Blending Mode drop-down menu, select "Screen." Go to the Tools menu and select the "Move" tool. Move the layer around until you create a swirl that you like.

  • Go to Layer in the main menu and select "Flatten Image." Go to Image in the main menu. Select Adjustments > Invert.

Tips & Warnings

  • Instead of inverting the image in the last step, you could also go to Images, select Adjustments > Hue/Saturation. This allows you to adjust the different colors of your swirls.

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