Create a Dynamic Particle Explosion in Photoshop

Create a Dynamic Particle Explosion in Photoshop

Lately, I’ve received several requests for tutorials on how to use some of our resources, or more specifically, how to achieve the look in the preview images. In this tutorial, I’m going to explain my process for using our latest freebie brush set to create a particle explosion.

For this tutorial you will need to download the new FREE brush set, Dust Particles. Below is a look at what we’ll be creating using the brushes. Click the image to view the full preview.

I think you’ll be surprised how easy this effect is to create. Lets dive in…

Step 1

Create a blank document 2400×1200 at 300dpi with a background color set to #191919. Choose a bold heavy font and enter some white text of your choice.

Apply the following layer styles to your text.

Step 2

Press the letter (D) on your keyboard to reset your colors to black and white. On a new layer, above your text, render some clouds (Filter | Render | Clouds).

Set this layer’s blending mode to Overlay.

Step 3

Now load the Dust Particle brushes from your brush palette. On a new layer, using a white brush, begin clicking to place some of the particles around your text. Choose different brushes, and size them down accordingly.

On a new layer use another particle brush, sized a bit larger than the others, and then apply a (Filter | Blur | Gaussian Blur) to make it appear as though some of the particles are too close to the camera to be in focus.

This brush set makes the previous step incredibly easy. Drawing and placing these particles individually would have taken a considerable amount of time.

Step 4

Now lets rasterize our type. (Ctrl+click) the type layer and select “Rasterize Type” from the drop down. Now we can use one of the particle brushes as an eraser to remove pieces of the type to make it appear like pieces of broken off.

Step 5

Lets add a Gradient Map adjustment layer and use a gradient similar to the one below.

Now, on a new layer, below the text, use a large soft white brush with opacity set to around 10-20% to paint a bit of light behind the text. Set this layers blending mode to Linear Dodge (Add).

I hope this tutorial has shown you some new techniques, and how custom brushes can create impressive effects in just a few clicks.

Here’s a view of the effect at 100% zoom.

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Nathan Brown

Nathan Brown is a graphic designer who loves working with various media. He combines traditional art styles with a little experimentation and digital flare. Nathan's works have contained everything from ink and paint to leaves and a box of dirt. Everything is fare game when it comes to his approach to art. Nathan lives in Austin, Texas where he has been working as a designer for 10 years.


(+add yours)
  1. Nice job Nathan! I love the final outcome, you the man! And thanks for the wonderful brush set, I will put it to good use.

  2. Thank you very cool

  3. Waqas

    Nice Tutorial. Could you please tell us that which font you have used in this tutorial?

    Thank You!

  4. Scott Bernadot

    Man, you are talented. Thanks for sharing this post and the amazing products you continually release on this site. I am a big fan :)

  5. rayo

    font used?

  6. ji hye kim

    thank you!! I like it!!

  7. remy

    i wonder if this effect are affected with picture??i mean potrait picture??

  8. i am always learn from your tricky tutorials. thanks

  9. Great result and it seems really easy to make :)

  10. remo

    give me the video tutorial pls :-(

  11. Roflcopter

    Really pretty outcome. BTW I don’t like to rasterize my text layer. It’s not needed. Just add a layermask and use the brush on the mask for the holes in the text. And for the blurried particles, just turn the layer into a Smart Object before and then add the G. Blurr. That way the entire project stays highly customizable :)

    My result:

  12. blaa

    WHAT THE FUCK? When I add the similar Gradient Map Layer NOTHING happens? whhyyyyyyyyyyyyyy goddamit!!?

    • bro. add Gradient overlay not gradient map……….

  13. Warren

    hey i have a question over here :)
    which is the font name?

  14. zana

    When you say in Step 4 to use the brush as an eraser what do you mean? Do you just use the background colour and brush over the text with that colour?


  15. jherald

    hey dude, why it does’nt working on my cs6 ps, … the dust brush file is not working T.T can anyone help me?

  16. jherald

    hey nathan, i want to be friend of you, i need you to guide me in photoshop, hope that you will help me thanks, need so much to know more in photoshop :))),

    • Hi jherald… Have a look around the blog. There are some great tutorials here that will help you boost your Photoshop skills very quickly.

      • jherald

        i cant see your great tutorials ^_^, can u link it to me ? thanks

  17. Tim Oldridge

    Hey, when I render the clouds and change the blending mode to “overlay” the clouds just disappear. What”s going on?

    -Tim Oldridge

  18. jxwilson

    having problems with the adjustment layer

  19. Ayano

    I can’t make effect from step 4.
    I click resterize type on text layer, then I use particle brush and I only color the text, it’s not the same effect like you have :(

  20. I am fairly new to photoshop, and had no problem up until the gradient map, perhaps add greater detail to how you got your map to look like that or the settings. Over all i loved this tutorial :)

  21. Really nice work. nice way of teaching

  22. Sava

    Learned a lot from this tutorial, so thx for that.

    Had a lot of trouble adding a Gradient Map adjustment layer, but I found out I had to change the gradient colours a bit, to get a similar result.

  23. qais

    Could you say which version of photoshop that is? (i’m using Ps CS6) Because i become completly diffrent end result and it sucks :/ (sorry for my bad english)

  24. Sarah Watson

    I don’t understand Step 5.. anyone please help me.. pleaseeee….

    • In step 5-> go down from layer pallete
      from right you see -> trash, new layer, group layer, adjustment pannel,….
      click and select gradient map….
      but after this step you should change your gradient map to find your cosutumized….
      Have fun….
      Check my Atrworks….

  25. Pretty cool job! Thank you soooo much!

  26. Martin

    Oh my god…. U are so bad at telling us where to find the different things! U just say “add a gradient map”, not for example (like u should do to make it easier) “Go to ‘that’ and then click ‘this’ and then add this and that, instead of just saying add a gadient map…

  27. someone

    can you make a video tutorial pleeaaase

  28. Sora

    Hey! I was really enjoying the tutorial upto the point of gradient. Then what you showed in gradient settings, how do we get that option? Am working in CS3 and I don’t get the gradient smoothness option when I select a Gradient map layer. Please help?

  29. Luka

    Lets add a Gradient Map adjustment layer and use a gradient similar to the one below.

    This part I do not understand, as I add it?

  30. This tutorial gave me some good design ideas to run with for my website. Thanks for putting it up!

  31. Good tutorial! I used in a suggestion for a book cover:

  32. HELP

    Does it matter if i got Photoshop C6?
    Can u please make a video of this (this week)? I think some steps are a little bit confusing since I’m new on Photoshop.


  33. Thnx ! Beautiful tutorial ! :)

  34. Finally a good tutorial! Easy as 1-2-3!

    Thanks for this Nathan! Helped me create a new logo for a friend.

  35. what font did you use here XD?

  36. Great job – thanks for that!

  37. Very Nice Tutorial.. Thanks

  38. Mixalis

    when i add a Gradient Map adjustment layer only the background change not the font and the brush..what i should do to fix it??

  39. This is so cool and so easy, thanks!

  40. Jazz

    Thanks for the tutorial, easy to follow and happy with then end result :-)

    • Christian

      How do you do step 4? Don’t really get it…


  41. Christian


    Step 4… You got to explain.


    • Erica

      Hi Christian.

      Another way to complete step 4 is to right click the type layer. The 9th option on the list is ‘Rastarize Layer’. Click this. This step makes your font into an image which can be erased and the effect to be used fully. :)
      Hopefully this helps?

  42. Erica

    This tutorial was absolutely wonderful! I love it! I used a different gradient using teal and cyan and it turned out beautiful!!! I will definitely be back to look at more of your tutorials. :)

  43. adil

    How i Apply Gradient Map adjustment layer. It is Complicated.

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