Tutorial for a Spiral Peel in 3D in Photoshop

Written by jill carpenter
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Tutorial for a Spiral Peel in 3D in Photoshop
Like a long spiral fruit peel, use Photoshop to spiral peel any picture. (Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images)

Spiral peeling a picture in Photoshop creates an optical illusion. The two-dimensional picture appears to be a three-dimensional object. A spiral peel looks like an orange that has been peeled in one long piece. The technique takes advantage of the fact that your eye perceives brighter objects as being closer and darker objects as being farther away. Once you have mastered the technique, edit any picture to appear three dimensional.

Skill level:

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  1. 1

    Select a picture or photo that is distinct from its background. Open in Photoshop and duplicate the background layer using Layer>Duplicate Layer. Label this new layer "Back." Repeat Layer>Duplicate Layer so there are now two identical new layers. Label the second new layer "Front."

  2. 2

    Select your newly created "Back" layer, adjust the Brightness to -80% using

    Image>Adjust>Brightness -80%. Click the Eye icon next to the "Front" layer to see the results of this adjustment to the "Back" layer. Be sure to click the Eye icon when you are finished adjusting the brightness of the "Back" layer, to return visibility to the "Front" layer. When you are completely finished creating the spiral peel, this "Back" darker layer will appear to be in shadow and therefore behind the brighter "Front" layer.

  3. 3

    Select the "Front" layer, then create a Layer Mask using Layer>Layer Mask>Reveal All. Select black as the foreground colour and then select the brush tool to paint spiral stripes on this layer mask. Use a brush size that is about one sixth the size of your object. Brush stripes across the object at a slight diagonal angle to reveal the shadow layer beneath the "Front" layer on which you are working. The shadow stripes you are painting should be slightly smaller than the brighter foreground stripes.

  4. 4

    Click the eye icon to turn off the visibility of the original bottom background layer. Select the "Back" layer. Select white as your foreground colour and use the brush tool to brush away the sides of the shadow layer stripes. Create the illusion that the "Front" is connected to the "Back" by brushing in the following pattern. On the left side, brush away an inverted triangle from each shadow stripe. On the right side, brush away an upright triangle from each shadow stripe. As you brush away the sides of the shadow stripes, the object should start to look three dimensional.

Tips and warnings

  • Select a relatively round object on a plain solid background for your first try. It will be easier to see how you should edit the spiral peel. If the optical illusion does not pop out at first, go back and make your "Back" layer even darker. The angle and height of your triangles will also accentuate or diminish the three-dimensional look of your object. Smaller triangles make a flatter result. Larger triangles give your object more depth and dimension. Insert a white or black background layer under your "Back" layer to make it easier to see your editing. Select the background layer, then use Layer>New Fill Layer>Solid Color. Be sure to reselect the "Back" layer before you return to editing the shadow stripes.

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