After working on the Photoshop smoke tutorials I thought I’d take a minute to expand on using the Liquify tool to create smoke images in Photoshop. I’m writing this post with the assumption that you’ve already tried (or at least read through) one of the smoke tutorials.
The settings of the tools in the Liquify filter will depend on the resolution of your image. For this example, I started with an image size of 825px width, 550px height. The initial smoke lines were painted with a round brush at 60 pixels, hardness 100%.
After you’ve set up your image with layer one (black background) and a painted a smoke line on a layer above that (smoke layer), click on the Liquify tool: Filter > Liquify (Shift+ Ctrl + x).
Here’s where the Liquify Tool magic begins!
Starting with the Bloat tool. For this first round of warping, I chose the Bloat tool with settings seen in the image above. I painted around the outside of the painted lines with the main goal of smoothing-out the original lines I painted. You don’t have to be perfect here, just smooth-out what you started with. This is the first step of tweaking. You can’t mess-up, just go with it!
Once you’re satisfied, click the Ok button. Then go in the toolbar to Edit > Fade > and specify 50%. Here’s what it looks like so far:
Bloat Again – Rinse and Repeat
Go back to the Liquify tool and Bloat again. Once you’re content, click Ok and again go in the toolbar to Edit > Fade > and specify 50%. Here’s what it looks like now – you can see the effect becoming more apparent:
I included the overlay of the liquify setting as a reminder to keep things looking like they should. The setting can be found within the Liquify tool window at the bottom right side.
Now Twirl it!
At this point I decided to give it the good ole Photoshop Liquify Twirl.
Just like before, once you’re content, click Ok and again go in the toolbar to Edit > Fade > and specify 50%.
This is basically the process of making smoke images in Photoshop. Use the Liquify tool in several steps until you become satisfied with your image. Don’t be afraid to experiment.
For this image, I went back and forth among the Bloat tool and Liquify tools only to accomplish the final image below. It took 7 steps going back and forth using the Liquify tool.
As always, feel free to ask questions!