How to create a realistic smoke / steam effect in Photoshop

by hannah 163 views2

steam-effect

To show how this effect can work in it’s end result I am going to add steam to a coffee photo that I found on Wikimedia commons. If you wish to use this image too you can find it here. Photo by Julius Schorzman.

Coffee Cup without steam

Step 1.
Create a new document. I choose to create mine at 800×800. This will not be an effect that you will be able to scale up so make sure your original canvas is an appropriate size for the size of the image you want to add the smoke / steam to.

Create a new document
Create a new document

Step 2.
Create a new layer and use the paint bucket to fill this layer with black.

Create a new layer and fill with black
Create a new layer and fill with black

Step 3.
Create another new layer and select the paintbrush and white from the colour picker. You will need to set the paintbrush to various different sizes but keep the hardness to a low level. Start with a mid size brush.

New layer
New layer
Select Paintbrush
Select Paintbrush

Step 4.
On the new layer, draw wavy lines upwards, using varied brush sizes.

Wavy lines
Wavy lines

 

Step 5.
With the wavy lines layer selected in the layers palette, choose Filter > Other Maximum. Keep the radius low.

Choose filter > Other > Maximum
Choose filter > Other > Maximum
Maximum options box
Maximum options box

Step 6.
Repeat step 5 until your lines are quite distorted.

Distorted Wavy Lines
Distorted Wavy Lines

Step 7.
Chose Filter > Distort > Twirl to distort the lines further.

Choose Filter > Distort > Twirl
Choose Filter > Distort > Twirl
Twirl
Twirl

Lines after twirl

Step 8.
Choose Edit > Transform > Warp

Edit > Transform > Warp
Edit > Transform > Warp
Warp
Warp

Step 9.
Drag the different points on the transform closer together at the bottom, to give the effect of the smoke rising from a central point.

Distort the lines further using warp tool
Distort the lines further using warp tool
After warp effect
After warp effect

Step 10.
Change the opacity on the top level to fade the lines into the background.

Change opacity
Change opacity

Duplicate the lines layer

Step 11.
This layer can then be duplicated and moved around to create the desired effect.

With Multiple Lines
With Multiple Lines

Step 12.
I have used different parts of the layer over the top of the coffee image and added more blur to create the effect I wanted. See the image below for the final result.

Coffee With Steam
Coffee With Steam

 

Comments (2)

  1. Thanks very much for this excellent tutorial. Exactly what I needed!

  2. i have tried most of smoke making effect on photoshop but i could not get as per your simple tecqnic wich i follow well . thanking you.

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