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Dispersion Effect – Add a Bit of Drama and Flare to Your Images

Have you ever wanted to create striking and fascinating visuals in your images? One of the best ways to do this is the dispersion effect. It takes the main subject of your image and extends it across the canvas of your image. Although it is most commonly used in promos and advertising, you can use it to create incredibly captivating artworks.

Imparting a splatter or a dispersion effect to the subject can result in an extraordinarily dynamic and vibrant image. Furthermore, it is extremely easy and fast to do with just a few steps in Photoshop. Even though the outcome can look very intricate as if it took hours of hard work to create, you can create it within minutes and get as artistic as you want.

Steps to Add Dispersion Effect to an Image in Photoshop

  1. To begin with, select an image that you anticipate to work well with the effect. Images with actions are always the best options to work with. Here a side-angled face focused model has been selected so that some interesting dispersion visuals can be created with the impression of anticipated movement.

dispersion effect 1

  1. First of all, you need to eliminate the background and take it out of the image. To do that, you have to create a mask using a path or channel.

dispersion effect 2

  1. Once you finish the overall mask, you have to duplicate the layer and apply layer mask in order to make the layer mask permanent, which means, now you will not be able to make quick changes to the area that you have selected.
  2. Now you have a clean cut out of the model
  3. Next, you have to duplicate the cut outed layer and turn

dispersion effect

  1. Depending on the area in which you want to create a dispersion effect, you have to extend the canvas area.

dispersion effect

  1. Use the Gradient Fill from the Layer palette to create a radial gradient background. You have to put this at the bottom of the two layers.


  1. dispersion effect

dispersion effect 5

  1. Select the second layer from the top. Now that the layers and appropriate selections are all set up, you can proceed with the creation of a dispersion effect. Firstly, Liquify the area where you want to create the dispersion effect. For example, in this image, the hair on the left of the model has been selected. Now, pull the subject as far as you wish the dispersion effect to stretch. You can experiment a few times to get the right idea about the extent of the effect. Once you are happy, click OK.

dispersion effect

  1. After you have completed the process of liquifying, you have to apply a negative layer mask to the layer.
  2. Then turn on the top layer and apply a layer mask to it. To make areas of the layer invisible, you have to brush black colour to the layer mask using an explosion type of brush.

image editing

  1. Brush on the edges of the hair and skin on the left side.

dispersion effect


  1. After finishing brushing on the top layer, select the bottom layer and select the colour white as the brush colour.
  2. Paint the layer arbitrarily to get the desired result. Now, rotate your brush angle as per your desired shape.


  1. dispersion effect
  2. After finishing brushing on both the layers, if you come across any mistake or any unnecessary liquifying, you can adjust the amount of liquifying.
  3. If you feel that the background colour is impacting the image, you can change that.

dispersion effect

  1. You can also do suitable colour adjustments as per your choice to impart a certain mood to the overall image.

  1. Adjust the Opacity or Fill to make the image look normal.

  1. That’s it! Here are the two versions of the image: Before (left) and after (right).

dispersion effect

dispersion effect