Photoshop Smoke Tutorial




Going to get back into this website, im from the UK (makes some instructables hard when they say ...

Basically i spent a large portion of my evening trying to make blue mist for my new user name and almost all of the guides i googled weren't too helpful so i mixed and matched and I'm going to share my improved guide with you all for my first complete Instructable.

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Step 1: Setting Up

1. Open up a new document in Photoshop,
2. Make it any size you want,
3. Where it says "Background Contents" set that to white,
4. Click Okay,
5. Use the Paint Bucket tool to make the background layer black
6. Create a new transparent layer

Step 2: Base of Your Smoke

1. Pick a grey colour (Make sure you have the transparent layer selected),
2. Draw a squiggle in a medium to large brush,
3. Fill in any gaps with a smaller brush,
4. Use the dodge and burn tools to randomly shade different parts (Hard to understand, theres a picture for ya :3)

Step 3: Fun Part (Filters)

1. Go onto Filter>Blur>Gaussian blur then set radius to "9",
2. Go to Filter>Other>maximum and one again set radius to "9",
3. Go to Filter>Distort>wave click the randomize button until it looks sufficient,
4. Go to Edit>Fade wave
5. Make opacity 50%
6. Repeat Steps 3-5 until you're happy with your smoke effect.

Step 4: BONUS SECTION! Colouring Smoke

Well here i would like to tell you all my little fun part for this effect coloring, in this example and these picture ill be making it bright green but it can be absolutely any color you want. (bright green doesn't look too good i prefer blue but this is for display purposes only so it shouldn't matter)

1. Make a new layer above your smoke,
2. Make your brush size huge so it covers almost all of your document,
3. Select your chosen colour,
4. Completely cover the document in the colour,
5. Change the belending mode to Overlay an Voila! Coloured smoke

Well thats the end thanks for reading/following guys/girls.

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16 Discussions


1 year ago on Step 1

Buat Smoke Effect - Photoshop Tutorial


2 years ago

Thanks, Now I don't need to buy brushes :-}

Blue Mist

7 years ago on Introduction

1. Check you have CS5 the German version may not have a randomize button.
2. Don't touch any of this the one it auto selects is correct.
3. Yes.
4. I did it roughly a dozen times, Did you remember to do the wave and the fade wave repeatedly or did you just continuously fade the wave?


7 years ago on Introduction

Same here TechGadgets.
I'm trying this out in Photoshop CS6 beta. Looks rubbish and I feel that Blue Mist is missing a whole ton of stuff out -
1 - It matters what size the image is for the Gaussian blur and Maximum to work at radius 9 pixels.
2 - It matters what brush sizes you use.
3 - It matters that the brush strokes needs to be a shade of grey to begin with.
4 - The dodge and burn tools appear to have very little effect on the end result.
5 - Both the Gaussian Blur and Maximum might need to be different than 9, even two very different numbers possibly.
6 - the Wave Distort dialog box is full of adjustable parameters, of which Blue Mist fails to mention at all, and the defaults just don't work, no matter how many times you repeat steps 3-5.

I'm not trying to be demeaning here, you just need to be a shedload more detailed in your descriptions than that!

Blue MistCekpi7

Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

To save it as a brush you would need to do it without the black background, it would be do-able but rather hard to get the smoke looking right.

TechGadgetsBlue Mist

Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

You just could remove the black bachground afterwards and use the pic later for anothe projekt.


Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

well i making smoke in a diffrent way ( with white backround but it looks nicer with black )


7 years ago on Introduction

What a shame that this got only less than 500 views up to now. I always wondered how to make smoke, but I was to lazy to look it up. This helped me a lot. I don't understand what you did at last in step 2.

4 replies
Blue MistTechGadgets

Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

The dodge tool on photoshop makes things lighter its like a brush tool, you just use it to add random patterns to your "Squiggle" and the same applys to the burn tool which darkens. only 500 views? :O my last instructable had 3 and i made this one like not long ago at all, its now featured and i got 3 months pro, i'm well suprised :D

TechGadgetsBlue Mist

Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

Thanks. Will try it out when I'm back at my PC.
I was just surpriced because I got for my first instructable featured and more than 1000 views after two days so I thought that would be normal when featured.


Now I tried it but somehow it doesn't look nearly as goog as yours :( .
I'm done with step 2, you see the result below.
The Gaussian blur looks korrect as well.
But now...
1. There isn't a randomize buttom anywhere, does it need to be activated?
2. It asks weather I want it diagonal, concentric or circular (I've the German version so I translated it into english)
3. Fade wave opens a window. Should I put this opacity to 50%?
4. How often did you repeat that? I tryed it a few times and it look not better but even worse.

I hope you can help me.

By the way: you maybe should mention it has to be an 8-bit picture a 16-bit does not work.