Twirling spirals

The Twirl filter rotates the center of a selection while leaving the sides fixed in place. The result is a spiral of colors that looks for all the world as if you poured the image into a blender set to a very slow speed.

When you choose Filter ^ Distort ^ Twirl, Photoshop displays the Twirl dialog box, shown in Figure 11-16. Enter a positive value from 1 to 999 degrees to spiral the image in a clockwise direction. Enter a negative value to spiral the image in a counterclockwise direction. As you are probably already aware, 360 degrees make a full circle, so the maximum 999-degree value equates to a spiral that circles around almost three times, as shown in the bottom-right example in Figure 11-17.

Figure 11-16: The Twirl dialog box enables you to create spiraling images.

The Twirl filter produces smoother effects when you use lower Angle values. Therefore, you're better off applying a 100-degree spiral 10 times rather than applying a 999-degree spiral once, as you can see in Figure 11-17.

Figure 11-17: The effects of applying the Twirl filter. Repeatedly applying the Twirl filter at a moderate value (bottom middle) produces a smoother effect than applying the filter once at a high value (bottom right).

Figure 11-17: The effects of applying the Twirl filter. Repeatedly applying the Twirl filter at a moderate value (bottom middle) produces a smoother effect than applying the filter once at a high value (bottom right).

In addition to creating ice-cream swirls like those shown in Figure 11-17, you can use the Twirl filter to create organic images virtually from scratch, as witnessed by Figures 11-18 and 11-19.

To create the images shown in Figure 11-18, I used the Spherize filter to flex the conical gradation vertically by entering 100 percent in the Amount option box and selecting Vertical Only from the Mode pop-up menu. After repeating this filter several times, I eventually achieved a stalactite-stalagmite effect, as shown in the center example of the figure. I then repeatedly applied the Twirl filter to curl the flexed gradations like two symmetrical hairs. The result merges the simplicity of pure math with the beauty of bitmapped imagery.

Figure 11-19 illustrates a droplet technique designed by Mark Collen. I took the liberty of breaking down the technique into the following steps.

Distortion Image Spirale Photoshop

Figure 11-18: You can create surprisingly naturalistic effects using distortion filters exclusively.

Figure 11-18: You can create surprisingly naturalistic effects using distortion filters exclusively.

Figure 11-19: Although they appear as if they might be the result of the ZigZag filter, these images were created entirely by using the gradient tool, the Twirl filter, and a couple of transformations.

Figure 11-19: Although they appear as if they might be the result of the ZigZag filter, these images were created entirely by using the gradient tool, the Twirl filter, and a couple of transformations.

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