In this post I’ll show you how to exploit Photoshop’s masks to make a quick scatter effect. You can of course refine this and alter it to your needs.

The image I’ve chosen for the is:

Amazed young man

Setting Up Your Document

For this effect you’ll need three layers.

Background: A colour that matched the background of the image. This may mean you need to extract them using masks, but for this example it’s a nice solid white.


Original: The starting image. If this was a background layer you may need to drag the lock to the trash can to unlock it.

Scatter: This is where you’ll make the scatter pieces.


Select the Scatter layer and convert it to a Smart Object (no surprise there if you’ve been reading my other posts here). Then run the Liquify Filter from the Filter menu:


Using the Forward Warp Tool (1) click and make drags from the subject to the side. Make the brush a good size and the drags small, for my example here I made maybe 40 or 50 click and drags.


Notice that I’ve tried to ‘randomize’ the colours, by pushing up and down too. I’ve also concentrated on picking out prominent colours or features like his eye and lips.

Click Ok

Add Mask One

We need to mask out the Scatter layer completely, from the Layer menu choose Layer Mask > Hide All


Extra Credit: Make a Hide all Layer Mask by pressing Alt and clicking the New Layer Mask icon at the bottom of the Layer panel.

Get a Brush

This really will depend on what effect you’re after. I’m going to experiment with Wet Media Brushes. To load a default set, select the Brush tool. Then from the Brush panel in the contextual menu click the cog. From the fly out menu choose Wet Media Brushes:


Randomise your brush to give you a more scattered effect. I’ve gone all out with the Large Texture Stroke brush:


Paint In The Scatter

With the brush set to white, and the Scatter layer’s mask active paint back in the scattered pieces:


Change the brush size to add a little more randomness. [ smaller and ] larger.

Paint away the scatter by pressing x to reverse the foreground and background colour and painting with black.

Paint Away The Image

Select the Original layer and add a Reveal All mask either from the menu, Layer > Layer Mask > Reveal All or from the New Mask icon at the bottom of the Layers panel:


With your brush paint with black to hide this layer:


Go between the two masks adding and removing until you get the look you’re after.

As always, a huge thanks to Eric for supplying this tutorial. Stay tuned for next week and in the meantime, check out more of his tutorials on his website, YouTube and you can find him on Facebook and Twitter should you wish to get in touch with him!