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How to Create a Dispersion Effect in Photoshop

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The definitive guide to one of the most popular special effects in Photoshop! Follow along as we create a photorealistic dispersion effect from scratch.

And as a bonus, we include over 50 custom-made Photoshop brushes that you can use to make your own dispersion, particle, and splatter effects!

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Photoshop SFX

Master one of the most popular special effects in Photoshop! Follow along with the included RAW image and 50+ custom brushes and learn how to create your own dispersion effect.

Create a Realistic Dispersion Effect

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How to Make a Dispersion Effect in Photoshop

Special effects are a great way to help tell a story in a photo. Whether you’re just looking for some Photoshop fun or you need a new dynamic look for your professional work, we walk you through the process of creating a realistic dispersion effect.

50+ Custom Brushes Included!

To create this effect, we photographed rocks and dirt being thrown in the air and then converted those images into unique custom brushes. Follow along and learn how to use photographed assets to create ultra-realistic effects and textures in Photoshop!

Realistic Special Effects

Special effects are fun, but it can be tough to get them right. We not only show you how to create one of the most popular effects out there, we show you how to pull it off using techniques that help it look like it was all captured in-camera.

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Layer Effects

Learn how to use Layer Effects like Bevel and Emboss to add shape and dimension. Create realistic highlight and shadow details to help the dispersion particles look like they were photographed in the same scene as the subject. Then learn even more about Layer Effects in How to Master Layer Styles in Photoshop.

Highlight, Shadow & Color

Learn how to use light and color to add realistic depth and dimension to special effects in Photoshop! We show you powerful techniques that will allow you to analyze the light and color in a scene and then apply the same look to any elements you paint in.

Noise & Grain

When you finish any effect or image composite, the use of noise and grain can help bring all the different elements together into a single, seamless image. Learn how to apply just the right amount of noise and grain for the perfect photorealistic effect.

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50+ Custom Brushes Included!

We created over 50 custom brushes by photographing real rocks, dirt, and debris! Perfect for any dispersion, particle, or splatter effect, you can download and use these brushes on any image.

Stunning Special Effects

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Working with RAW

RAW images give you the most amount of room to work in post-production. Follow along as we show you the flexibility of RAW processing using Adobe Camera RAW in Photoshop. Quickly make adjustments to exposure and color with incredible accuracy and detail.

Professional Results

We break down professional techniques that will help you create ultra-realistic effects in Photoshop. Adding effects to your Photoshop skillset can act as both an inspiration for generating new ideas and help you be more versatile when doing specialized work for clients.

Energy & Motion

Dispersion effects are great for any scene where you want to emphasize motion, emotion, or energy. Watch as we apply our dispersion effect, paying close attention to the pose and motion of our subject. Then take your storytelling skills to the next level with The Beginner’s Guide to Levitation

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Dispersion, Particle & Splatter Effects

We designed these brushes to work for a wide variety of special effects. Download and add our brushes to your creative toolkit and then try our PRO tutorial The Amazing Power of the Brush Tool in Photoshop to learn even more!

Create Custom Brushes

Not only do we include over 50 custom Photoshop brushes, we also walk you through the process of making them from scratch! So the next time you need a particular style of brush or texture, you’ll know how to make it yourself.

Effects for any Photo

Once you’re done with the tutorial, try creating a dispersion effect on one of your own photos! Use your new set of detailed custom brushes and your fresh new Photoshop skills to create your own unique effect.

Class Instructor & Featured Artist

Aaron Nace

PHLEARN Founder – Class Instructor

Aaron Nace is a photographer, Photoshop artist and founder of PHLEARN. He is the #1 Photoshop instructor in the world with millions of YouTube subscribers.

View more classes by Aaron Nace.

josh rose photographer

Josh S. Rose


Josh S. Rose is a professional photographer, photojournalist and creative director, living in Los Angeles. He brings a classical black and white style and applies it to his conceptual, narrative-driven subject matter which has lead to work for some of the hottest new brands, personalities and creative organizations in the country.

View more of Josh’s work.


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This tutorial includes 12 videos, 1 RAW Sample Images, 1 Sample PSD, 49 Dispersion Textures, and 54 Custom Brushes. Download the sample images and assets at the top of the page.

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We suggest using the latest version of Photoshop, but our tutorials are designed to be compatible with CS4, CS5, CS6 & Photoshop CC. Get the latest version of Photoshop from Adobe.

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