Push boundaries with the dream-like dispersion effect.

Learn more about this mesmerizing special effect and how to use it to make your photos stand out from the crowd.

As a photographer, capturing photos is just one part of the equation. What comes next is the editing process, where the use of new techniques such as special effects can really push your artistic limits and transform your images into eye-catching photos. Let’s explore one of those techniques — the dispersion effect — to see how you can use it to dazzle your audience.

Disintegrate with the dispersion effect in Adobe Photoshop.

The image dispersion effect makes the main subject of your photo look like it’s disintegrating or blowing away. To achieve this effect, you’ll need to work with multiple layers. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to do a dispersion effect in Photoshop.

  • Open your image in Photoshop. For best results, choose an image where the main subject stands out clearly against a solid background.
  • Create initial layers. You’ll need three layers for starters: the original image, an isolated subject, and a background layer.
  • Apply the Liquify filter. Use the Forward Warp tool on the subject layer to distort the area of the image you wish to apply the dispersion effect to. The farther from the subject you distort, the more the image will “blow away.”
  • Add final layers. Add a Hide All layer to the subject layer. Then duplicate the subject layer and remove the layer mask and the Liquify filter.
  • Add a white mask. On your subject layer, click Layer Mask, then Reveal All.
  • Disperse. Select the subject layer and set the foreground color to black. Use Debris brushes to start brushing along one side of the subject. Then, switch the foreground to white and keep brushing to create a scattered effect.

When using the brush tools, you’re essentially blotting away part of the top layer to reveal the underlying Liquify layer. Keep playing around with these tools by varying the brush sizes and types until you achieve your desired look.

And don’t be afraid to experiment with additional techniques as you go, too — you never know what you can learn or what new style you may introduce into your repertoire.

Explore what more you can do with Adobe Photoshop to capture and then process epic photos.