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Deke's Techniques is a collection of short Photoshop and Illustrator projects and creative effects that can be completed in ten minutes or less. The series is taught by computer graphics guru Deke McClelland, and presented in his signature step-by-step style. The intent is to reveal how various Photoshop and Illustrator features can be combined and leveraged in real-world examples so that they can be applied to creative projects right away.
In this movie, we are going to take those hot glowing letters that we created in the last movie, and we are going to set them on fire, like so. So we are going to end up with this raging inferno. Now this is real fire, by the way--that is, photographs of actual fire, as opposed to some sort of synthetic filtered effect. I experimented with the lot of the effects that are out there. There are all kinds of recipes that you can find, but at the end of the day, I just didn't find any of them to be terribly credible. There is nothing for emulating fire like real actual flames.
So I ended up putting together this file right here. It's based on a photograph from Transition of the Fotolia Image Library, and the file from which I grabbed this flames happens to be number 14771929, for what it's worth. And I mention that because the file costs between one and seven bucks, depending on the resolution. So it's quite affordable, but there are all sorts of other stock images of flames. Or, of course, you can capture your own if you like. Anyway, notice that I am calling this file Five and a half fires, and reason is because flames number two at positions--that is, number two and four--are repeats of each other.
So I don't even have unique flames in all cases, and yet this ends up creating a terribly credible effect. Now, I could just go ahead and grab one of these flames, plop it into the other composition into my hot glowing letters, and then set it to the Screen mode, in which case I'd drop out the darks and keep the lights. But if I do that, then the flames are going to end up overwhelming the letters. So what I want is these tendrils of flame that interact really well with each other. So I want to select just the brightest details, and I am going to do that using a luminance mask.
So I will press Shift+Tab in order to bring up my right-side panel. So I will switch over to the Channels panel, and I want to show you the three channels we have to work with inside of this RGB image. We have the green channel, which most closely resembles a grayscale version of the image. And it's ideally suited to our purposes because if we convert this channel to a selection, we are just going to select the lightest details; we are not going to select the background. If I were to work from blue, I wouldn't select enough of the details because it's too dark. If I worked from red, I would select too much. So the just-right channel in this case is green.
So I am going to Ctrl+Click on the PC, or Command+Click on the Mac, on that channel in order to load this as a selection outline. Then I will switch back to the RGB image, switch over to the Layers panel, and press Ctrl+Alt+J--or Command+Option+J on the Mac--to jump this selection to a new layer. And I will call it "flames," and I will click OK. Now, just to save myself time, because I really need to bring each one of these flames over independently so that I can mix them together inside the larger composition. So I am going to do a little work in the background here before I bring the flames over, just like so.
I am going to start things off by setting the blend mode for this layer to Screen, which will end up brightening all the flames just a little bit, as you can see there. I am going to turn off the Background layer as well because we don't need it. Then I am going to zoom out a little bit here so that I can take in the large world of flames, and I am going to select the Lasso tool by clicking on it or pressing the L key. And now I am going to drag generously around all of the right-side flames here. So I am selecting everything but the farthest-left flame, as you can see. And notice I have got some pretty big gaps between the flames to work with, so I am taking care of to make sure I am not slicing any flame. And then I am going to press Ctrl+Shift+J, or Command+ Shift+J on the Mac, and what that does is it moves those flames to a new layer, leaves the one flame behind on that flames layer, and now creates a new bunch of layers here.
This is called layer 2. You know what I ought to do because these layer names are going to update on me, I am going to call this guy "layer 1," and you will see why in a moment. I am going to call this guy "layer 2." From now on, Photoshop should automatically name the other ones layer 3, layer 4, and so on. All right, I am going to grab these flames, all of the right-side flames from the third flame on, and I will press Ctrl+Shift +J, or Command+Shift+J on the Mac, to create the layer 3. Awesome! Notice each one of these layers is coming in with the Screen mode. So that work will be done for me. So I am trying to sort of simplify the process a little bit.
Go ahead and drag around the fourth flame on over. Ctrl+Shift+J, Command+Shift+J on the Mac, in order to create layer 4. Go ahead and drag around these guys, like so. I think I clipped off a little bit of flame right there, so I will Alt+Drag or Option+Drag around it, and then press Ctrl+Shift+J, Command+Shift+J on the Mac, in order to create a layer 5. Then finally drag around this final flame, press Ctrl+Shift+J or Command+Shift+J on the Mac to create a layer 6. All right! I got it. That's awesome! I am going to click on one, Shift+Click on other to select them all and press Ctrl+G, or Command+G on the Mac, to group them together, and I am going to call this group "flames." So I don't really care that it contains a bunch of layers that are called layer 1, layer 2, and so on, because I know they are all flames now.
Now, I am going to get my Move tool by selecting that top tool in the toolbox, or I can press the V key, and I am going to grab my flames. I am going to drag them up onto that Glowing embers tab right there. Wait for it. So wait for Photoshop to switch to this image window and then drag back into the Image window and drop in order to move my flames into place, and notice that brought over the entire group. All right! Now we have got to move these various flames into the desired positions here, so I am going to twirl open. Go ahead and click on layer 1 to make it active. Even though I am not even sure I can see layer 1 at this point, let's go ahead and drag it over and see. There it is. And I will move it into position, although it's sort of snapping around, thanks to the fact that I have got the Move tool selected.
So you know what I am going to do is I am going to switch to the Marquee tool, which I can get by pressing the M key, and I am going to Ctrl+Drag the flame instead, or Command+Drag on a Mac, so that I don't have that clipping any more. I will switch to layer 2 inside the Layers panel. Ctrl+Drag or Command+Drag this flame into place. Switch to layer 3. Ctrl+Drag or Command+ Drag this layer into place as well. And you know what I want to do, I want to go ahead and move the flames below Firetype. So I will collapse the Firetype layer, so that I am no longer seeing its Smart Filters, and I am going to drag the flames group down below like so, so that the letters are covering up the flames because I don't want the flames to overwhelm the letters. All right! Now I am going to scroll over just a little bit, click on layer 4, Ctrl+Drag, or Command+Drag, that layer into place, and switch to layer--what am I at? Layer number 5 and Ctrl+Drag or Command +Drag it into place as well. And then finally, grab layer 6, which is way outside of the canvas, and go ahead and move it into place right about, I believe, there.
I am just kind of eyeballing these various layers so that they blend into place with each other, so that we are filling in the gaps between the letters. Now this isn't really the effect I am looking for, unless the fire is coming underneath the letters, like there is some fire source that's down here somewhere. But I want the letters themselves to look like they are on fire, so I am going to click on the flames group right there, and I am going to add a layer mask to it by clicking on the Add Layer Mask icon down here at the bottom of the Layers panel. And then I will click on my Gradient tool in order to select it, make sure that I have a black-to-white gradient going--which I do-- and I will just draw a very small gradient from the bottom of the letters up, very slightly, like so.
Now, I need to do a little hand masking. So I will grab the Brush tool. I have got a very soft brush going. You can see, if I right-click, the Size is 70 pixels, for what that's worth. Hardness is 0%. And what that allows me to do is just create this kind of quick and dirty mask like so. And I will just drag around these areas that I don't want to have fire in them. And you might look at this and say, wow! That doesn't look like flames at all. In other words, it doesn't look like this area flames which looks realistic, or this area where the flames are declining. Well, let's work on that a little.
Having painted away some of those regions there that need to go away, I will switch to the Smudge tool, which I can get from the Blur Tool flyout menu right there, and then I can just sort of smear in some flame tendrils like so. Nothing terribly fancy here, by the way. I am not trying to create little curling flames. You could throw on an application or something like the Ripple filter if you felt like it, but I will show you what I think is more effective. Where we have real flame transitions, where they are really transitioning the black, you end up with these red colors showing up. But were you mask away the flames, you end up with this sort of black- yellow mix that just doesn't look right at all.
So I am going to switch to layer 6 here--that is, the top layer in the flame stack--and I am going to add a new layer by pressing Ctrl+Shift+N or Command+Shift+N on the Mac. And I am going to call this "redness" and click OK. And I am going to switch to the Brush tool once again, which I can get by pressing the B. And if I press the Alt key, or the Option key on the Mac, while the Brush is selected, then I can get the eyedropper. Click and hold in order to select the color that you like, and in my case, that lifts this color right here. You know what? I am going to modify it a little because I came up with the better color mix that I like that was 13 for H, 93 for Saturation, believe it or not, and 41 for the Brightness.
And then I am just going to set in painting inside some of these regions that look a little, sort of blackish. And that's going to give me just solid, full- on red, which isn't going to look right, but we will apply a blend mode in just a moment here. So I will just click at the bottom of some of these letters here in order to red things up. That looks pretty good. Now I am going to change the blend mode for that layer from Normal to Multiply, and you end up burning in the effect quite nicely I think. Now if you feel like you have gone too far at any point in time, you can click on that layer mask once again. And then, still armed with your Brush tool, you can go ahead and switch the foreground and background color so white is your foreground color, and you can paint some of the flames back in like so. And you might find that to be acceptable, especially if you have got a little bit of red going on underneath there in order to support it.
However, I went too far, so I will press the X key to switch back to black and paint that area away. All right! This looks pretty good, but the problem is it looks like the backs of the letters are on fire. It doesn't look like the letters themselves are experiencing any flame whatsoever. So, a couple of things I am going to do about that. First of all, I am going to click on that Firetype layer to make it active, and this is the Smart Object layer that contains the actual editable type. I am going to add a layer mask to it by clicking on this Add Layer Mask icon down here at the bottom of the Layers panel. And I will get my Gradient tool once again. And this time I am going to draw a big gradient, like so, just to make the tops of the letters slightly translucent. And I feel like they might want to be a little more translucent still, so I will draw yet another gradient.
I will keep trying until I get it right. That looks pretty good. Then I am going to go ahead and twirl close this flames group, grab it, and then right-click over in this empty region in order to bring up the shortcut menu, choose Duplicate Group, and I am going to call this guy "hotter," and click OK. Then I will move that in front of the letters, which will absolutely overwhelm the letters until I assign a blend mode. And the Blend mode I am going to assign, I will click on Pass Through and choose Hard Light in order to create this effect here. Now that looks awesome to me, but the letters are a little bit overwhelmed.
So I will go ahead and grab those letters once again, and I will press Ctrl+Alt+J, Command+Option+J on the Mac, to duplicate this layer and name it. And I will call this new layer "support," and click OK and then move it to the top of the stack, and then I will change its blend mode from Normal to Soft Light. And we end up with this effect here. Now, I will go ahead and press the F key a couple of times in order to switch to the Full Screen mode, and the result is text that we have set on fire using real flames here in Photoshop.
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