This tutorial focuses on using a simple photo, but with a little extra effort you can achieve some amazing results using very complex photographs. This tutorial will teach you how to easily create swirly works of art, and give the appearance that it is entirely composed of vector shapes, following an increasingly popular design technique.

This is the image we'll be creating:


The first you open the original picture below (source: from Fatoe, sorry i can't find the original picture of the girl):


Now to work on your image’s background. Make a new layer and fill it with black.

Duplicate your original photo layer and put it on top of the black one (see picture below).


Set the layer's blend mode to Hard Light.


Select the last layer (from the above picture) and then go to Edit > Define Pattern.

Define your pattern as ‘Girl’ or whatever you want to call it.


Now grab a free swirly brush set such as this one. Create a new layer above your hand layer called ’swirls small’. Then use various swirly brushes from your set to brush over your hand. I used a purple brush color just to highlight where I’d placed my brush strokes. Try to use as many of the brushes as possible, varying size and positioning to create a random mess of swirls covering most of the hand. Don’t worry about going over the edges!


Extra Styling: For a good effect, try in this layer to use small brushes. Make another layer above and name it 'swirls big', and use bigger size brushes.

Go to Layer>Layer Style>Blending Options. Add a drop shadow to your swirls just to give them slightly more depth/impact.


Now for both layers with swirls, go to Layer>Layer Style>Blending Options and change the Pattern Overlay like in the picture below.


Now hide the background layers like in the picture below. Your layers should look like this:


I would suggest the burn/dodge tool on the edges to give them slightly more depth.

And we’re done! You can see the final result below. This technique can be applied to any image using any vector shapes. The key to making it look convincing is matching the vector objects to the shape, contours, and flow of the object image they're to be wrapped around. It's an odd effect, but I hope you were able to gain something from this tutorial, and good luck with your own work!


Design Inspiration: Alberto Sevenso

Download the Photoshop .psd File



  • Keith
    I just stumbled upon this site(don’t know how I haven’t found it earlier) and it’s freaking awesome. This tutorial is great and so are your other tutorials! Very easy to follow yet a lot to learn from all of them and also they’ve got some awesome end results! Thanks so much Alex, I will definatley keep reading around here.
  • David
    Excellent colors. May I also suggest in relation to creating these wonderful patterns.
  • Andrew
    I rarely feel excited seeing tutorials and outcomes - but this is sick, I am trying it out!
  • Vaidya
    My imagination already are thinking about many other things, what can be done with this technique! Thanks!
  • Heatherina
    Been looking for this kind of digital art for ages! Keep it up! Please do post some more enlightening stuff for us! All the very best!
  • Gorny S. Needa
    omg wicked! love it :x
  • Rohil Sinha
    This is really great . i love this site keep on.
  • Timothy
    Hey… finally! I was waiting for a tutorial like this for a long time now. Thank you very much for sharing.
  • Jermayn Parker
    How great is this tut! I was trying t oachieve this effect but I’ve failed… until now!
  • Liv Madsen
    Wow, this looks awsome, well done and thanks :)
  • Arnaud Alves
    Fantastic! Amazing! Perfect! thanks for the tutorial!
  • kailash
    Oh my God. This is so easy and the result comes out great. Many thanks for this tut :D
  • Ridwan Santoso
    Fantastic, and surprisingly easy. Thanks so much for sharing!
  • Jenna H.
    That’s sick. Nice one man.
  • Danielle
    This probably one or the coolest tutorials i have ever seen. thank you for such wonderful stuff.
  • Emahallo
    Great tutorial, efficient effect! Thx for sharing!
  • Callum Martin
    Very nice tutorial! It turned out great.
  • Marion
    great stuff mate, thanks for keeping it free.
  • Matthew
    That’s some amazing result right there. You just blew me away. Great technique, thanks for sharing!
  • Photoshop CS5 Wannabe
    Thanks Roman nice photoshop tut thanks for sharing
  • Aarson Web Design
    Thank you for your demonstration. It has inspired me to try some things of my own. It is amazing the things we can do today with technology.
  • Ben
    Nice tut! Here is my rendition!
  • paco
    the model is called angelique boyer
  • Shamima Sultana
    nice tutorial..thanks for the post..
  • Joshua Cipto
    thanks... nice photoshop =)
  • lil-wiktoria
    thankk you i love it!!!!!!
  • Jac
    Love the idea but despite my best efforts and re-reading every instruction- all I got was the mess of swirls (and some great new brushes) when I hid my backgrounds.
  • lunetmedia
    awesome work.. thanks for sharing
  • topix
    Very Nice tutorial... I will share to my website Thanks for sharing
  • SMehraban