Perhaps one of the most fun aspects of designing in the digital age is that we can now create incredible effects almost instantaneously. We’ve all seen the popular memes that joke about early photo and video editing, and for many years, creating a complex graphic was a daunting task. It certainly wasn’t the type of work we’d be able to do quickly at home, let alone on a cellphone. Now, in a matter of seconds, we can make effects that look like they came straight out of a high-budget sci-fi movie.
Even with advanced technology and apps, manual editing can still be overwhelming, especially if you’re short on time or just learning the ropes. That’s where ready-made tools and filters come in. They help us create popular effects, like the chromatic dispersion or “dust” effect, in a series of clicks. These tools take manual work out of the equation and let us jump right into the fun part. We can turn any image into a burst of fractals in a few taps, and the result looks like it took hours to achieve.
Applying a dispersion effect is like taking your photo and breaking it up into tiny pieces of glass. Each of these triangles captures the colors and content of the original photo. Once you’ve broken the image up in this way, you can intensify the effect by shifting the angle and size of the pieces. The result is something like pointillism meets “The Matrix.”
When applying this effect, start with a photo with figures or objects that contrast with the background. That will ensure that the dispersed pieces show up against the colors behind them. Pictures without much contrast won’t look very different when you apply this effect. The reason is that this tool works by breaking existing colors in the image into smaller, replicated pieces. If all of the colors are the same or similar, you won’t see the effect well.
Break it Down
- Open the Picsart mobile application and click on the purple plus sign at the bottom of the screen to start a new project. Your photo library will appear. Using the tips above as a guide, select the image to which you want to apply the dispersion after-effect.
2. With your image on the editing screen, choose “Tools” from the menu below your canvas.
3. Select “Dispersion” from the pop-up menu.
4. If it’s your first time using the tool, you’ll get a brief tutorial on-screen. Essentially, the guide shows you how to use your finger to select the area to which you’ll apply the “Dispersion” effect. Be sure to choose a section of the photo that has different colors in it. In our image, this means including a bit of the person’s bright orange jacket. That will help create visual interest and contrast once the tool breaks the selected area into tiny pieces.
5. Make your selection by moving your finger on the screen. Remember to fill in the whole area that you wish to disperse, not just the border. You can change the size of the drawing tool by using the slider, but generally, it’s a good idea to choose a large area so that the effect is clearly visible. When you’ve finished selecting your area, click the arrow in the upper right-hand corner of the screen to apply the “Dispersion” effect. You can always return to this step later if you want to change the selected area.
6. Now, it’s time to tweak the effect. If you like how your image looks, you can jump down to the last steps of this tutorial to learn how to export and share your edited photo. However, it’s worth exploring the tools in the menu at the bottom of the screen. The first is “Stretch.” This function expands the full effect, and in turn, it makes the dispersed pieces larger and more spread out. Use the slider to change the intensity of this function.
7. The second tool is “Size.” Here, you can drag the slider to change the dimensions of the individual fractals. This can help make the “Dispersion” effect more immediately visible.
8. The third tool, “Direction,” is arguably the most important. It will shift the wind of your image, so to speak. As you nudge the slider, the direction in which the pieces are flying will change, adding movement to the composition. We’ve applied an extreme effect to our photo so that you can see the full extent of what this particular tool can do.
9. Once you’ve decided on the direction of your dispersed pieces, you can jump over to the “Fade” tool. As you move the slider, the contrast between the background and the pieces in the foreground decreases. Applying this effect just a little bit results in a softer image. An extreme application will undo the “Dispersion” effect altogether.
10. Finally, play with the “Blend” tool. This option essentially offers different filters for your photo. Keep in mind that these filters may reduce the visibility of the “Dispersion” effect, so only use the “Blend” feature if it feels right. Our guess is that your dispersed image looks impressive as-is.
11. When you’re finished editing, click “Apply” in the upper right-hand corner of the screen to save your changes.
12. To amp up the effect, consider cropping your image down to the essentials – the parts of the photo where the “Dispersion” is most noticeable. You could even try using one of our ready-made shapes to cut along an unconventional border. Open the “Tool” menu again. and, this time, select “Shape Crop.”
13. Scroll through our menu of pre-cut shapes and apply the one you like most to your image. You can stretch and resize the borders simply by using your finger to drag them on the screen.
14. Finally, export your photo and share it with all of your friends. They’ll ask you how you pulled off this effect, and they’ll be surprised to learn how easy it is. To download your image, click on the downward arrow at the top of the screen. Doing so will also take you to our quick-share options.
Picsart is a full ecosystem of free-to-use content, powerful tools, and creator inspiration. With a billion downloads and more than 150 million monthly active creators, Picsart isn’t just the world’s largest creative platform; we’re also the fastest growing. Picsart has collaborated with major artists and brands like BLACKPINK, the Jonas Brothers, Lizzo, Sanrio: Hello Kitty, I am a Voter, Bebe Rexha, Maroon 5, One Direction, Warner Bros. Entertainment, iHeartMedia, Condé Nast, and more. Download the app or start editing on web today to enhance your photos and videos with thousands of quick and easy editing tools, trendy filters, fun stickers, and brilliant backgrounds. Unleash your creativity and upgrade to Gold for premium perks!