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Create Abstract Light Swirls and Circles in Photoshop
Tutorials Textures and Patterns 2335 Views November 1st, 2016

Learn how to create abstract light swirls and circles in Photoshop. For this we'll use Photoshop gradients and distort filters like Twirl Filter and ZigZag Filter. You can create endless light effects that can be used to create light leaks in Photoshop.


In this tutorial we'll create abstract light swirls and light colorful circles in Photoshop from scratch. You can add beautiful rainbow gradients and create all kind of abstract light effects very easily.

abstract light swirls and circles in Photoshop

Create a new PSD file and set the size that you want. The important thing is that the width and the height to have the same size. So your PSD file must be a square.

file new menu create psd canvas

Create a new layer and call it Background Layer. Fill the layer with color black.

Create another layer and call it Abstract Light Swirl. Right click on the layer's name and choose Convert to smart object like shown in the preview.

convert to smart object in photoshop

Double click on the Abstract Light Swirl smart object thumbnail to open it. Inside create a new layer called Gradient 1. Fill the layer with any color you want and set the Fill to 0%. Also add a layer mask to this layer.

create new layer in photoshop

Duplicate this layer two times and call the layers Gradient 2 and Gradient 3.

duplicate layer in photoshop

For all three layers will add a Gradient Overlay layer style and also a gradient for the layer mask. Let's start with the Gradient 1. First resize the image to around 75%. Press CTRL+T(shortcut to transform in Photoshop).

transform in photoshop ctrl+t

Use Layer Masks to Fade Images in Photoshop

Click on the layer mask and use the Gradient Tool, with black and white gradient to create a masking effect like shown in the preview. The gradient type is linear (blends the colors of the gradient from start color to end color in a straight line). Keep the SHIFT key pressed while dragging to make the direction of the gradient perfectly horizontal or vertical in our case.

layer mask gradient in photoshop

Go to Gradient 2 layer and repeat the previous step to mask the layer. As you can see in the preview is a lower size mask effect.

layer mask gradient in photoshop

Leave the Gradient 2 layer mask white, fully visible layer.

Add Gradient Overlay Layer Style

Part 1Part 2

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5 comment(s) for "Create Abstract Light Swirls and Circles in Photoshop"

4:20 AM Wednesday, November 02, 2016
not sure what happened here, (LOL), but this was my result at step 4.... any suggestions? reply
4:23 AM Wednesday, November 02, 2016
The layer mask for all the Gradient layers must look like in Part 1 (Step 9). I see that the Gradient 3 layer mask is black. Simply fill the layer mask with white color.

Also don't forget to set the Fill to 0% opacity level for all three gradient layers. reply
1:47 AM Sunday, November 06, 2016
Thank you for this good tutorial. I have create a candy swirl using this Photoshop effect reply
1:16 AM Saturday, December 03, 2016
Another one! :) reply
1:16 AM Saturday, December 03, 2016
Abstract Light Swirls and Circles. Thanks! reply

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