The Twirl (with Tutorial)

Living Room Wall Abstract WL

Today, there was a new Photoshop editing action all over facebook: The Twirl! As awesome as the resulting images look, the fact that everybody and their mothers used it throughout the day while posting their final images forced many to tire of it quickly. Though it may be a short-lived online fad since all the images have the same general look to them, I think the method can come in handy for some very practical purposes.

A few weeks back, one of my friends brought someone over to my apartment that really loved a 30″x40″ photo-canvas print of mine. He loved it so much so that he bought it off me on-the-spot (the whiskey may or may not have played a role in the quick purchase decision). Either way, there was suddenly a large wall space to fill. We also recently bought all new furniture for our living room. The old color theme was very beach-like (light blues, tans, yellows, shades of brown), but our new stuff features a lot more red, tan, and black. My girlfriend picked out a matching 5’x8’rug and throw pillow set for the couch with these new colors, so I had planned on replacing the old canvas with one of my black and white photos, while selectively leaving some reds in the image (think “The little girl’s coat” in Schindler’s List – but happier?). I wasn’t sure where to start, but then I found a groupon for a 3-panel 40″x60″ canvas (3 40″x20″ pieces) for just $40 (+ $25 S&H). I thought this was a great deal, so I got it without knowing what to print. The twirl idea was perfect.

The basics behind the twirl are simple: a few distortion and blur layers on top of one of your images and “Voila!”, you’ve made abstract art. It’s so simple, a caveman can do it. What I did was the following:

1) Go to the website where I bought the area rug (majority of color source in room)
2) Copy & Paste that image into Adobe Photoshop
3) Twirl it

Next thing you know, you have a piece of abstract art that matches the room decor perfectly, and for a great price.

Here is the general method with the specifics settings that I followed:

1) Start with any photo
2) Filter>Pixelate>Mezzotint>Medium lines
3) Filter>Blur>Radial blur (slider = 100, blur
method = zoom, quality = best)
4) Repeat step 3 up to 5X, as desired
5) Duplicate layer
6) Remain on original layer. Filter?Distort>
Twirl (angle value = +200, but you can use any)
7) Select new layer. Filter>Distort>Twirl
(angle value = -200, negative of step 6)
8) Alter new layer’s blending mode (many choose
‘lighten’, but I used ‘soft light’ – try them all)
9) Merge layers

Have fun.


(disclaimer: I get nothing if you buy that groupon)

UPDATE 8/6: If you plan on buying the groupon, use “MYCITY20” to get an additional 20% off. Don’t know how long that code will be good for, but hey, save’s you $8. That’s like a nice (free) craft beer!

Living Room Set 2


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2 Responses to The Twirl (with Tutorial)

  • Michelle Summers

    Thanks for posting this, Rick!! Excellent use of the technique!

    • Rick

      I’m glad you like it, Michelle! It really worked out well for me (especially since I had no idea what to print for the wall and I was running out of time to use my Groupon).

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