How to Create Bulge Effects in Photoshop

Imagine a picture printed on the surface of a balloon that's inflated almost to the bursting point, and you've visualized some of what Adobe Photoshop's bulge effects can do. Photoshop also can create an inverted bulge that appears to suck an image inward on itself. The native Photoshop filters that accomplish these effects rank among the program's oldest plug-in options. They provide effective, quick results despite their bare-bones user interfaces, helping you accomplish imaging goals without investing in add-on software.

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Bulge effects can make a photo balloon outward or inward.
credit: Hemera Technologies/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images

Pinch Filter

Step

Open the Photoshop "Filter" menu and scroll down to its "Distort" submenu. Select "Pinch" from the list of Distort options to open the "Pinch" dialog box.

Step

Set the "Amount" value using the "Pinch" dialogue box slider control. Negative values extrude pixels outward; positive percentages pinch your image inward. If this seems counter-intuitive, remember the name of the filter.

Step

Click on the "+" and "-" buttons below the preview window in the "Pinch" box to examine the preview more or less closely. When you're pleased with your results, click on the "OK" button to apply the filter to your image.

Spherize Filter

Step

Open the Photoshop "Filter" menu and navigate to its "Distort" submenu. Choose "Spherize" from the list of Distort options to bring up the "Spherize" box.

Step

Set the "Amount" value using its slider control or enter a percentage value between -100 and 100 in its data entry field. Choose "Normal," "Horizontal Only" or "Vertical Only" from the "Mode" drop-down menu to set the direction in which your effect applies. "Normal" makes image pixels balloon inward or outward. The two single-direction options apply the effect only on one axis, which looks more like selective scaling.

Step

Use the "+" and "-" buttons below the effect preview window to zoom into or away from your image for a closer or more distant view. When you're satisfied with your settings, click on the "OK" button to apply the "Spherize" filter to your image.