Spirographs and fractals look complicated but are actually very easy to create – it only takes a bit of experimentation. These fractals then can be used as artwork itself or as elements in photo manipulations, backgrounds, and graphic design related works.

Preview of Final Results


Step 1

We’re going to start by creating a 2000×2000 pixels document with a black background. You can use any image size that suits your artwork. Create a new layer and draw any shape you like. To make things simple, we’ll be using the Ellipse Tool. Set the mode to “Shape”, fill to none, and stroke to white.

Draw the shape in the middle of your document.


Step 2

Switch back to the Move tool (V) then activate the Free Transform tool (Ctrl/Cmd+T or Edit > Free Transform). Drag anywhere outside of the transform box to rotate it. You can hold the shift key while dragging to snap the rotations to 15º increments. Press enter to apply the transformation.


Step 3

At this point, you probably already guessed how we’ll be creating this spirograph – duplicating and rotating the object until it makes a full circle. This takes awhile but thankfully there’s a very useful hotkey that will automate this process. Switch to the Move tool (V) then simply press Ctrl+Shift+Alt+T (Command+Option+Shift+T on Macs) repeatedly until you form a circle.


Step 4

That was just a simple spirograph. Try experimenting with different transformations. Here are some examples of alternate settings you can play around with:

Changing the reference point location:

Changing width and height:

Changing rotation and skew


Step 5

Now that you’ve experimented with different settings, it’s time to take it to the next level. In the next steps, you’ll learn how to create spirographs with actions to give you even more customization. Using actions, you can change the color, opacity, and many other settings in addition to the transform settings you did earlier.

Start by creating another outline using any tool. Make sure that the layer is rasterized if you created the shape with any of the vector tools. To do this, right-click on the layer and choose Rasterize Layer. I drew a simple red oval outline.

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26 responses to “Quick Tip: How to Create Fun Spirographs and Fractals”

  1.  Avatar
    Anonymous

    Is there a way to input a random integer in the Photoshop actions? I am trying to achieve an effect like this: https://solanart.io/collections/frakt

    1. Photoshop Tutorials Staff Avatar
      Photoshop Tutorials Staff

      Unfortunately that’s not possible.

  2. JD Avatar
    JD

    on CS6 I can’t see in the filter>other>offset option the top and right pixels ……….it’s showing me exactly opposite to put values ……….down and left…ugh

    1. TS Avatar
      TS

      You reveal all of Photoshop Filters you first need to go to Edit – Preferences – Plug-Ins… and check Show All Filter Gallery Groups and Names.

  3. Carol Baudat Avatar
    Carol Baudat

    It seems to have been removed.

  4. Ravi Avatar
    Ravi

    Dear,

    I am 2nd example not understood , so please suggest.

    BR
    Ravi

  5.  Avatar
    Anonymous

    Thank youuuuuu brooo

  6. Karen J. Avatar
    Karen J.

    Very easy to follow tutorial, thank you for posting!

  7. Maidul Islam Avatar
    Maidul Islam

    I love your all icon sets….and start to bookmark this!!!

  8. aditya Avatar
    aditya

    loved it :)

  9. Hamid Avatar
    Hamid

    Very interesting possibilities. Thanks for sharing.

  10. A. S. Z. Avatar
    A. S. Z.

    Nice and easy enough.
    Thanks

  11. Junaid Khan Avatar
    Junaid Khan

    I’ve surf many webs for best and easy tricks. This is one of the most top website for tuts.

  12. Shamaz Avatar
    Shamaz

    where is the vector path option in photoshop and how to de select it and how to create only outlines of the shape………. I use CS5 portable version

    1. Nicky Avatar
      Nicky

      They’re using cs6. cs5 doesn’t have the option to make vectors into their own shapes.

  13. Ali Nejatbakhsh Avatar
    Ali Nejatbakhsh

    very lovely and fun.tank you very much

  14. matty Avatar
    matty

    hears a nother fun way to make fractals in photoshop

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HzBwVCSFZPY

  15. deegrafix Avatar
    deegrafix

    What is the name of this program

    1. Ryan Green Avatar
      Ryan Green

      -_- Photoshop… Duh!

  16. MNnic Avatar
    MNnic

    Do people a favor and test your tutorials next time. The ellipse rotation tutorial gives indeed the result that we see in the screenshot, but once you press ENTER, everything inside disappears and what is left is only the outline of that image.

    1. Photoshop Tutorials Editor Avatar
      Photoshop Tutorials Editor

      Thanks for the tip! You need to have your vector paths deselected. We updated the instructions to make it more clear.

    2. PJ Avatar
      PJ

      Great tutorial but I too always end up with the outline of the image.

    3. boomer Avatar
      boomer

      rude

  17. Clark Avatar
    Clark

    You can do this in Illustrator too. Press CMD-D or record action.

  18. phuongle Avatar
    phuongle

    dowlott hom

  19. Lady Lilith BloodCrave Avatar
    Lady Lilith BloodCrave

    Nice. The effect of a simple pattern can be really amazing.

    thank you for sharing,

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