Easy-to-follow video tutorials help you learn software, creative, and business skills.Become a member
All right, here is that final smoke effect, so that you can see it on screen. We are going to start off inside this file. Notice that I have a smoke photograph in the background, some editable text in the foreground. With this background image selected, I'm going to press Ctrl+Shift+N or Command+Shift+N on a Mac in order to create a new layer, and I am going to call that new layer blackness and click OK. Then I'm going to fill the layer with black by pressing the D key to ensure my default colors, meaning that the foreground color is black now. And I will press Alt+Backspace or Option+Delete to fill the layer with black.
Now what we want to do is merge these two layers together. And rather than flattening them so we no longer have access to the text, which would be a shame, I'm going to click on one, Shift+Click on the other, and then go up to the Layers Panel flyout menu, and choose Convert to Smart Object. And that way we can always come back to our text and modify it later. But the key here, by the way, is that now the white of the text and the black of the area around the text is merged together. This is very important for this effect to work. Now that I have a Smart Object, I can also apply editable Smart filters.
So I will go up to the Filter menu, choose Distort, and then choose Wave. This is the most problematic step, meaning it takes the most time to get it exactly right. You can leave your Number of Generators value set to 5, which is the default, but you want to crank the max Wavelength value up to something in the neighborhood of 900. Then you want to take your max Amplitude value and crank it up too-- I have set mine to 75. And then here is another important step. Now by default, both the Horizontal and Vertical values are set to 100%, which means that you're going to get a horizontal wave associated with your letters, as well as a vertical wave.
So very unlikely you want a horizontal wave, so you would go ahead and take that value down to 1%. Leave the vertical value set to 100%. You can experiment with these values if you like. The Type should be set to Sine, and we don't really care about Undefined Areas. Now notice that I'm getting this really great wave right here. That is totally luck of the draw, by the way. Every single time you click the Randomize button, you're going to get a totally different effect. Now, I'm not going to click on it, because if I do, I'll end up getting an effect I don't want, and then I will have to keep clicking on it until I get something I do like.
You may have to click on this button something like a dozen times to get what you are looking for. Once you get something that looks good, don't click Randomize anymore, thinking that it might possibly look better in the future, because if you do, you'll lose that good version of the type, and you won't be able to come back to it, and then you'll just have to click on Randomize that much more to get something you like. Now because we are applying it as a Smart filter you can always come back and click Randomize later, if you don't like the effect. But I do, so I'm going to click OK in order to create that wavy type.
That's really the only tricky step. The rest of this process is quite predictable. Next, you want to go up to the Filter menu, choose Blur, and then choose Motion Blur. You may recall that the angle of my smoke-- I will show you before I choose a command. I will turn off the smoke layer so you can see it. The angle of my smoke is horizontal, so it seems to be coming from the right and going to the left. If your smoke is vertical, then you would Motion Blur your text accordingly. All right, having said that, I have horizontal smoke, I'm going to turn the layer back on, make sure it's selected.
Go up to the Filter menu, choose Blur, and then choose Motion Blur. And because I have horizontal smoke, I will leave the Angle of my text set 0 degrees. If you have vertical smoke, you will set it to 90 degrees. All right I'm going to set to 0. I also am using a Distance value of 20 pixels. That's because I'm working inside of a low-res image. If you're working with a higher-res image, you would probably want to take this value up to 40 pixels, or even 50, 60, something in that neighborhood, so you get this same visual effect. Again, it's a Smart filter. You can always come back and change it later. Click OK.
Now for this next step, we want to be able to see the interaction of the letters and the smoke in the background, so I'm going to change the Blend mode from Normal to Color Dodge. And what Color Dodge will do is give us this really high-impact effect with these colorful blurred edges. Again, it's only working like this because the white and the black are merged onto a single Smart Object layer. All right, now we need a uniform blur around the letters, and we will achieve that blur using the Gaussian Blur command. So I will go up to Filter menu, choose Blur, and choose Gaussian Blur, and now because you're seeing the interaction of the letters and the smoke in the background, you can make a determination of what that Radius value ought to be.
Again, I'm working at low-res image, so a Radius of 12 pixels works out beautifully. If you're working in a higher-res image, you will want to crank that value to something higher. Now I will go ahead and click OK, and we end up achieving this affect here. Now I'm feeling like this effect is a little bit too hot. I'm going to reduce the opacity of this layer. Color Dodge is one of the Fill Opacity 8--that's what I call them anyway. Meaning that it responds differently to Fill Opacity than it does to Opacity; in fact, it responds better.
So I'm going to reduce that Fill value to 77, just by pressing Shift+7+7. Because I have one of selection tools active, that changes the Fill value, as you can see, and we end up getting this great effect here. Now, at this point, you can change your mind about any of the filter. So for example, if I think I don't have enough Motion Blur maybe, I'm going to double-click on the word Motion Blur. Photoshop will bring up an alert telling me that I am not going to be able to see the effects of any filters higher than Motion Blur, so I won't be bale see Gaussian Blur, as I'm modifying the settings. That's okay.
Now I'm going to crank up, let's say that Distance value to 50 pixels. Click OK to accept that change. That's way too much, so now you get the sense of exactly what's going on as you modify these settings. I will double-click again, click OK, and then let's try a Distance value of 25 pixels. Click OK and that ends up producing a really great effect. And what's more, I can still edit my text if I want to. All I have to do to edit the text is double-click on the Smart Object thumbnail.
In this case Photoshop is telling me how to work with a Smart Object. I'm just going to click OK because I already know how. Then inside of this independent window, I will press the T key in order to switch to the Type tool, go ahead and select those first two letters, and change them to CH, so I have an entirely different word. I still want it to be centered, let's say, so after I press the Enter key energy on the numerical keypad to accept my change there, I will go ahead and switch to the Move tool, which you can get by pressing the V key, and I will press Ctrl+A or Command+A on the Mac to select the entire image.
And then I will go up to the Options bar here and click on the Align horizontal centers, and that will center that text once again. All right, now I'm going to close out of this image. I will click the Yes button to save my changes, that is, to pass along my changes back to the file I was working on. That would be the Save button on the Mac. And I end up modifying my text as you see here. All right, I'm going to press the F key a couple of times in order to switch to the Full Screen mode, and that is how you create a choking smoke type effect, here inside Photoshop.
Get unlimited access to all courses for just $25/month.Become a member
120 Video lessons · 64311 Viewers
119 Video lessons · 71717 Viewers
125 Video lessons · 32360 Viewers
103 Video lessons · 31588 Viewers
Access exercise files from a button right under the course name.
Search within course videos and transcripts, and jump right to the results.
Remove icons showing you already watched videos if you want to start over.
Make the video wide, narrow, full-screen, or pop the player out of the page into its own window.
Click on text in the transcript to jump to that spot in the video. As the video plays, the relevant spot in the transcript will be highlighted.