Twirl Filter In Photoshop

Where ?

You can find the Photoshop twirl filter in the distort menu


Use it with an image or a layer or type. Apply it and a panel will appear (there are not many options). Set the angle (really that is all there is, that has been the same way for years and years). There is no option for different positions, etc. The value of the angle can be positive or negative.


You don't have to use the effect just once, it can be applied multiple times. Sometimes the result of multiple applications can be quite interesting. Apply it and go to the top of the filter menu and repeat the effect multiple times. The result is more like a spiral design. 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 effect go in the opposite way. If you run it multiple times with an angle of 254 and then set the angle to -254 and re-run it, the image will end up as it started so it can be used in a non-destructive way (though perhaps the quality of the pixels will not be as great as there must be some loss involved)


You can use the entire image but you can also use the effect in a Photoshop selection. Open image and select part of the image and apply the effect and deselect or you can use the same selection in different locations on the image and apply the same or different effect. The center of the effect 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. You can also re-apply this but you can also just select another part of the image and then apply the effect to that and then move to another and apply it again. 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 spin the image and leave the rest not displayed). The selection does not need to be circular

Use with other features

You don't have to apply the effect just on its own. You can use it with others (maximum, displace, oil paint etc) as well as combine them in actions and more. Use the spin effect and then use the wave etc. Or the other way around with the wave first and then the spinning effect (which makes the design a lot more tempestuous). The result can be quite a distorted design. You can also use other distort tools and maximum to create many different types of curled designs (uses the roundness setting and maximum). The result of the distortion and maximum creates quite a weird blocky and ghostly twirl design. Of course, all kinds can be used such as camera raw, oil paint and many more

different channels

The effect can also be used with channels and use them in separate channels to create interesting color artworks. Go to the channel panel (window menu) and select the red channel and run it via the distort menu and change settings. Select the green channel again but apply with different settings / angle and then the blue channel and different angle again. A more colorful design can be created from combining it with channels


You can use it with layers and type is just a layer. Select the type tool and add a new type layer and Apply the effect and the application will display a convert to smart object dialog - select smart object and then OK. The type can be a lot more than just a single word. You can use an entire page and then distort that. If you wish to apply different centers then it is best to just flatten the type and then select the type in different parts. Add the type and select using the selection tools (such as a circular selection) and apply it and set the settings for the angle and move selection and Apply again.

Layers / blending modes

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 on different layers. Open image and layer menu and duplicate (repeat a few times) and go to the each layer and apply it with different settings and 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 effect as well as perhaps use warp transforms on a layer as well add into the mix adjustments via the image menu. From a single image and a single effect, many 1000s of amazing designs can be created


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 command

You can add the effect to an image and then edit menu and fade and apply effect and go to the edit menu and fade and change the blending mode and opacity so you can run through the darken / difference / pin light etc

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

You can use it 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. You can also add layer effects etc to the layers such as adding a bevel to your artwork. Duplicate layer and shift center of layer and apply it and duplicate and duplicate etc and re-position. The image can then be modified by the spin effect again perhaps with all the layers merged and then to smooth things a little, use an oil paint once or twice.


You can also record any of the effect as well as combinations with others via the actions panel (window menu) and apply those recordings at a later date and on different images or layers etc via the playback. All kinds of different combinations of actions can be made such as using multiple layers and multiple effects and also combining with warps and blurs and adjustments and more.

Use as a smart object

Before you apply it, you can also select the layer (text etc) and convert it to a smart object via the layer menu and smart object and convert. With the design as a smart object, any effect can be seen in the layers panel and can be edited at a later date or removed so any entries to an image etc can be quickly removed or updated if you decide that the result is a little too subtle or too extreme.

Use with shape layers

You can also create a custom shape and then apply it to that and the object will be turned into a smart object and distorts in unique ways depending on the form of the vector.

Use with gradients

You can add a gradient design and use it with that, you can use the gradients on layers (layer menu and new layer) and spin that design and then combine the layers in multiple ways. Create a new layer via the layer menu and create a thin rectangular selection and fill that with a linear gradient and then deselect. Apply the effect to that thin gradient design to create an interesting spiral design in seconds.


Create a circular selection using the elliptical marquee tool and then add a fairly large pixel circle in black close to the edge of the selection but not too close and then use the Gaussian blur to blur the circle design. You can go to the effects and spin the design. Instantly creates a spiral design. You can also repeat and repeat via the top command and this will create even more variations of the spiral design. You can create other spirals simply buy adding a gradient and then again selecting an area by using the elliptical marquee tool and set the angle to a large value such as 600 and then apply and then re-apply etc. Of course, you will see the exterior pixels not moving but if you want you can always go to the select menu and invert and fill that area with black or white or you can just copy and paste the design as a layer. Probably works even better if you set a feather for the selection.