Learn how to create a circular pixel stretch.

Now try it yourself

1. Download the practice file and open "circular-stretch-effect.psd " in Photoshop.

2. Click on the Create a new layer icon to create a new empty layer.

Close up of man's face and hair showing Select and Mask, the background is now showing as red

Create the stretch effect

3. Select the "Jump" layer then click on the Rectangular Marquee Tool and hold the mouse to choose the Single Row Marquee Tool from the context menu.

4. Click a spot in the image where most of the colors occur > a dashed line appears that shows your selection. Copy the selection by entering Edit > Copy (Shortcut: Ctrl+C on Windows or ⌘+C on macOS).

An image of a flower has been added over the man's face


5. Now select the empty layer you have created before and paste the selection by entering Edit > Paste (Shortcut: Ctrl+V on Windows or ⌘+V on macOS).

6. To rotate and stretch your line of colors select the Move tool and check Show Transform Controls. Three handles will appear.

Properties, View Mode is displayed and the flower is now to the side of the man's face


7. Move the mouse to the handle in the middle of the selection until it turns into a two arrow cursor. Now hold the shift key and rotate the selection 90 degrees.

Tip: If you hold Shift while rotating, the selection rotates in 15 degree steps, so you can apply the 90 degrees precisely.

The man's face is now surrounded by two sets of flowers, and Layers > Curves is displayed


8. Use Shift on Windows or Shift+option on macOS and drag to stretch the selection across the width of the document to both sides.


9. Use Shift on Windows or Shift+option on macOS again and drag to stretch the selection a bit to the top and bottom of the document.


10. From the main menu choose Filter > Distort > Polar Coordinates to transform the horizontal stretch effect into a circular one.


11. Make the "Jump" layer visible again and adjust the size of the circular stretch behind by holding down the alt key and dragging the handle.

Hide portions of the circular effect

12. With "Layer 1" selected click on the Add layer mask icon at the bottom of the layers panel.

13. Choose the Brush tool , set it to black, and brush to hide portions of the circular effect.


14. Continue painting with black on the mask until all unwanted portions of the circular effect are hidden. If you want to reveal portions of the circular effect again simply change the foreground color to white and repaint.

That's it! Now it's your turn to create a circular stretch in Photoshop. Download the assets or use your own and share your image on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram using #MadewithPhotoshop to get feedback and connect with other creative minds.

Download my practice assets




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