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Twirl filter in Photoshop tutorial

twirl filter photoshop plugin tutorial

How to use the twirl filter in Photoshop CC 2017 2015 2014 etc The twirl filter in Photoshop can be used to warp and distort images and type and layers. The Photoshop twirl filter comes with a single setting 'angle'. for use in Photoshop CC CS6 CS5 CS4 CS3 etc. The twirl filter works from the center of the selection, whether this is the whole image or just part of the image such as as selection. The Photoshop twirl filter can be applied once or multiple times. It can be used with Photoshop actions. It can be used with other filters. The twirl filter can be used as a Photoshop smart filter and combined with adjustments and shapes etc. The twirl filter in Photoshop can be used to create some amazing artworks (especially with layers and channels and type - it is not a one click effect). You can use the twirl filter to create extreme distorted designs. It can be used to apply a very basic shift perhaps to tweak a nose. It can be used to change type into all kinds of distorted mess or just give a slight page turn. This tutorial shows you how to use the basic twirl filter effect as well as use the twirl filter with selections. The tutorial also shows how to use the effect on layers and with color channels and other effects. The tutorials also shows you how to use the twirl filter with the fade command to use blending modes and opacity with the distortion effect. It is a powerful tool that can be used in countless ways. Even if it has only one setting.

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  1. open an image

  2. filter menu

  3. distort

  4. twirl

  5. set angle

  6. OK

Basics of the twirl filter in Photoshop

twirl filter for Photoshop to gradient

You can find the twirl filter in the filter menu / distorts. The twirl filter in Photoshop can be used as a smart filter. It can be used multiple times on images as well as on layers. The twirl filter can be used in actions as well as blended with other effects to create many truly unique distortions. The filter can be used to create extreme twirled designs as well as very subtle warping to an image as well as objects such as type


Set the angle (really that is all there is, that has been the same way for years and years with the twirl filter). There is no option for different positions of twirl, etc. I mean it does not even have a preview and it has a very tiny preview window.


Photoshop Twirl filter re-applied - you don't have to use the twirl filter only once

twirl filter in Photoshop re-applied

You don't have to use the twirl filter in Photoshop just once, it can be applied multiple times. Sometimes the result of multiple applications can be quite interesting

  1. Apply twirl filter

  2. go to the top of the filter menu

  3. repeat the filter multiple times. The image on the right is the result of three applies of the twirl (the image at the top of the page is a single application). The result is more like a spiral design than just a twirl at this point


You do not have to re-apply it with the same settings though. You can just go to the distort menu and run it again but with a different settings such as using the opposite angle to apply and you can make the twirl go in the opposite way (though the setting was a little more subtle this time)

Photoshop twirl filter and selections - select a part of the image and apply twirl and then select another part and re-apply twirl

multiple twirl applications and multiple selections filled

You can use the entire image but you can also use the twirl filter in a Photoshop selection.


  1. open image

  2. select part of the image

  3. twirl filter

  4. de-select


The center of the twirl is now no longer in the center of the image (not particular ideal but it is a way around the lack of of center control in Photoshop


You can also re-apply this but you can also just select another part of the image and then apply the twirl to that and then move to another and apply it again and again such as in the image on the right with multiple applications of the effect. It should be noted that the effect really doesn't like the edge of an image and squeezes the effect into the selection and doesn't just twirl the image and leave the rest not displayed). The selection does not need to be circular

Photoshop twirl filter and other effects

distorted gradient artwork

You don't have to apply the twirl filter in Photoshop just on its own. You can use it with other filters as well as combine them in actions and more.


  1. use twirl filter

  2. use the wave filter default (such as on the right)


The result can be quite a distorted design. You can also use other distort tools or perhaps filters such as the maximize filter to create many different types of curled designs in Photoshop such as on the right (uses the roundness setting and maximum)


Of course, all kinds of filters can be used such as camera raw, oil paint filter and many more

Using the twirl filter with color channels so the twirl is applied to the red channel and green etc independently

different channels and selections in Photoshop curled design

The Photoshop twirl filter can also be used with channels and use them in separate channels to create interesting color artworks.


  1. channel panel

  2. select the red channel

  3. run twirl filter via the distort menu

  4. change settings

  5. select the green channel

  6. filter again but with different settings / angle

  7. blue channel

  8. different angle again


The image on the right uses different centers for the twirl filter by using different selections and also different angles but the same approach with the channels

Using the twirl filter with type - you can create amazing distortions of type in seconds using the twirl

twirl filter and multiple applies to type using selections

You can use the twirl filter with layers and type is just a layer.


  1. Select the type tool and add a new type layer

  2. Apply the twirl filter

  3. Photoshop will display a convert to smart object dialog - select smart object

  4. OK


The type can be a lot more than just a single word. You can use an entire page and then distort that by using the filter. If you wish to apply different centers then it is best to just flatten the type and then select the type in different parts as on the right.

  1. add the type

  2. select using the selection tools (such as a circular selection)

  3. apply twirl filter and set the settings for the angle

  4. move selection

  5. Apply filter again.

Twirl filter and layers and blending modes

different blending mode combinations of layers and twirl filter

You can create interesting designs from the same image but one that has been duplicated multiple times as layers and then blended using different blending modes in Photoshop and combined with different settings of twirls on different layers

  1. open image

  2. layer menu and duplicate (repeat a few times)

  3. go to the each layer and apply the twirl filter with different settings

  4. go to the layers and set different blending modes such as difference and darken etc


You can also add effects to the layers to perhaps blur the twirl effect . On the right, a blur has been added to one of the layer and the layers have used a different combination of blends (you can also, of course, re-color the design using adjustment layers)

Twirl filters and masks

You can also use the effect with layer masks (use on a layer) or perhaps use the effect as a mask with an image layer.

Edit and fade can be used with the twirl filter and use it to create more subtle as well as unusual color effects

opposite direction and edit fade

You can add the twirl filter to an image and then edit menu and fade

  1. apply effect

  2. go to the edit menu

  3. fade

  4. change the blending mode for the filter as well as opacity

The image on the right uses two twirl filter applications and both have been faded with blending mode of difference and opacity of 50% and mixed with a little vibrance to bring out the design.

Twirl filter and layers - you don't have to apply it to one layer or the background layer

twirl filter and multiple layers and oil paint

You can use the twirl filter with layers to create some really oddball distorted designs.


Shift the center of the layer from the center of the image and layer will be warped and distorted and then you can duplicate that or move it and re-apply or perhaps combine multiple layers of the distorted design and create unusual surfaces and textures

  1. Duplicate layer

  2. shift center of layer

  3. apply twirl filter

  4. duplicate and duplicate etc and re-position



The image can then be modified by the twirl filter again perhaps with all the layers merged and then to smooth things a little, use an oil paint filter effect once or twice as on the right.

Other tutorials

1. Flame filter for Photoshop for stunning fire effects

2. Color LUTs / how to make color lookup table in Photoshop for amazing color effects