Add Movement With a Swirl

with 11 Comments

Add Movement With Swirls
by Jen White
(Previously published by Barb Brookbank in 2012)

Using a common element along with the Distort Filter, add a swirl to your document that will give the illusion of movement.

Step One: Prepare Your Workspace

  • Create a new 12×12 inch document (File > New > Blank File) at 300ppi with a white background. (Photoshop: Choose File > New.)
  • Download the leaf to practice with.
  • Open the leaf3-AutumnDays-KristinCroninBarrow.png file from the download folder.
  • Get the Move tool.
  • Click on the leaf and drag it onto the new document.

Note: This technique will work well with most any object that has a transparent background. It does not work well with objects that are already round, like a button.

Step Two: Distort the Leaf

  • In the Menu Bar, choose Filter > Distort > Twirl.
  • In the dialog box, click the Zoom Out icon until you can see the entire leaf in the preview window.
  • Click and drag the Angle slider all the way to the right.
  • Click OK.

Step Three: Double the Effect (Optional)

  • Press Ctrl F (Mac: Cmd F) to run the filter again with the same settings. (PS: Press Right Click Ctrl F (Mac: Ctrl Cmd F) to repeat the filter.)

Step Four: Transform the Shape

  • Press Ctrl T (Mac: Cmd T) to get the Transform options.
  • On the document, hold down the Ctrl key (Mac: Cmd key), and click and drag the bottom right corner handle of the bounding box up and to the left.
  • Click the checkmark to commit the change.
Here’s a scrapbook page Barb Brookbank created using one of her swirls.

Page: Autumn Memories by Barb Brookbank
Photo: Barb Brookbank
Kit: Autumn Days by Kristin Cronin-Barrow
Poem: Elsie N. Brady
Font: Pea Snoflake


After posting your results online,
return here and include the link in the comments.

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11 Responses

  1. Laura
    | Reply

    Thanks for a great tutorial. I enjoy learning how to create interesting pieces like this

  2. Cary
    | Reply

    Very cool!

  3. Deborah
    | Reply

    This is pretty cool! Your tutes are always so clear and easy to follow. Thank you!

  4. Karen C.
    | Reply

    I love learning new things! Thanks for this great tutorial.

  5. Su Hall
    | Reply

    Thank you, ma’m! This is a nice little extra!

  6. Jessie Trotter
    | Reply


    Thanks so much for this fun exercise. As soon as I read it, I knew I had a photo to work with on a layout.

    Here’s my page:

    • Jessie Trotter
      | Reply

      By the way, CGA is always accepted and appreciated! 🙂

    • Jen White
      | Reply

      Your page is SO fun, Jessie!! Thanks for linking back. xoxo

      • Jessie
        | Reply

        Thanks, Jen! Any CGA? I’m always open and grateful for it!

  7. Joscelyn
    | Reply

    That’s a very neat trick, thank you

  8. Lynne
    | Reply

    What a fun thing! Can’t wait to try.

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