Mini Tutorial: Create a Swirly Masterpiece

26 Apr

Swirls – A Growing Trend?

Swirls are not particularly new in design, but seem to be becoming increasingly popular lately. I keep noticing a design technique of replacing regular photos with swirls, but the swirls holding the data of the photo. You can see what I mean from two images recently included in our latest Daily Image Inspiration post:

Today we’re going to be achieving something very similar, using just 11 basic steps (hence the ‘mini tutorial’). This tutorial focuses on using a very simple photo, but with a little extra effort you can achieve some amazing results using very complex photographs.

Final Image

This is the final image that we’ll be creating:

Step 1

Open up a photo of a hand over a dark background. You can use whatever photo you like for this within reason, but this one just seemed to work well. You can find the original photo here: http://www.sxc.hu/photo/711174.

Step 2

Now duplicate your photo layer twice. Set the first duplicate layer’s blend mode to ‘hard light’ and it’s opacity to 70%. Then set the second duplicate layer’s blend mode to ‘soft light’ and it’s opacity to 50%. Then merge all of these photo layers together.

Step 3

Now select the black area surrounding your hand using the magic wand tool. Just click on any part of this black area, and make sure that you’re magic wand is set to 10% tolerance, and anti aliased. Then go to select>invert to invert your selection (thus selecting your hand). Then copy/paste this hand selection onto a new layer. The image below shows your new top layer, with the original photo layer hidden.

Step 4

Now to work on your image’s background. Hide your hand layer. Then select your original photo layer and delete all data on it. Then fill it with a radial blur (181818 to 000000).

Step 5

Now create a new layer above your radial gradient background layer called ‘clouds’. Go to filter>render>clouds. Then change this layer’s blend mode to ‘soft light’.

Step 6

Next create a new layer above your clouds layer called ‘lighting’. Create a linear gradient ranging from white to transparent. Then duplicate the layer and move the duplicate across from the original.

Step 7

Now set each of these lighting layers blend mode’s to ‘soft light’ and then go to edit>transform>rotate to rotate them to a nice position. Then use a large, soft eraser brush to brush away the ends of each shape for a subtle transition into the background.

Step 8

Now grab a free swirly brush set such as this one. Create a new layer above your hand layer called ‘swirls’. Then use various swirly brushes from your set to brush over your hand. I used a purple brush color just to highlight where I’d placed my brush strokes. Try to use as many of the brushes as possible, varying size and positioning to create a random mess of swirls covering most of the hand. Don’t worry about going over the edges of your hand either, we’ll deal with that in the next step.

Step 9

Now return to your hand layer and click somewhere around your hand using your magic wand tool. This should select the space around your hand. Then return to your ‘swirls’ layer and hit delete. This should leave your swirly brush strokes only covering your hand shape.

Step 10

Now hide your ‘swirls’ layer. Select your hand layer and then go to edit>define pattern. Define your pattern as ‘hand’. Then make your ‘swirls’ layer visible again and apply the ‘hand pattern’ as a pattern overlay (see settings for this below). Then hide your original hand layer.

Step 11

Finally add a drop shadow to your swirls just to give them slightly more depth/impact.

And We’re Done!

You can see the final result below. I hope that you enjoyed this tutorial, and please feel free to comment or socially bookmark us.

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