Colorful Smoke Art - Photoshop Tutorial
Starting with a simple black-and-white picture of smoke, you will be making colorful abstract images.
This key to this technique is the Difference blending mode, which I've never had much use for. With a little experimentation, it can yield some very nice color combinations.
- Start with this close up of smoke on a black background:
- Double-click the background layer to create a new editable layer. Add a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer (Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Hue/Saturation) and use the following settings to turn the smoke blue:
- Right-click the hue/saturation layer and click 'Merge Down' to combine the layer and color.
Now you should have one layer that looks like this:
- Duplicate your layer (Ctrl+J) and set the blending mode of the new layer to 'Difference'. At first, this will turn the image black, but that will soon change. UPDATE: Move the new layer over to the right 50 pixels or so, and colors should appear again.
Add a Hue/Saturation layer to the new layer (like in step 2). Make sure 'Preview' is checked, and move the Hue slider back and forth until you like the result. Here's what I used:
For this result:
- Right click the Hue/Saturation layer and 'Merge Down' (like in step 3). Duplicate your newly merged layer. You should now have 3 layers of smoke and an image like this.
- To add some variation, I used a 'Pinch' filter (Filters > Distort > Pinch) on the 3rd layer with this setting:
Which should produce this:
- You can continue to make the image more complex by adding more layers. Let's do one more. Duplicate the 3rd layer. With your new layer, go to Edit > Transform > Distort. Grab each corner handle and pull them outward to make this layer a little wider and differently shaped than the others. Here's roughly how I did it:.
And enjoy the end result:
- It's easy to switch the layers around, try out different blending modes and hue/saturation layers to get a variety of images. Here are a couple variations:
Try an extra layer with 'Color Dodge' blending mode to get a brighter look:
- Let's try one with a different smoke pattern. Start with this beautiful image I found on Flickr. Here is the page it came from: original image. It is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution.
Check out the photographer's work here - it's awesome.
- Add a hue/saturation layer, then merge it with the smoke layer.
For this result:
- Duplicate this layer and add a hue/saturation layer.
The 2nd layer should now be purple. Merge it with the hue/saturation layer as we've been doing.
- Change the blending mode of the 2nd layer to Difference, then move it a few pixels away from the 1st layer so green and purple are both visible.
- Do the same 'duplicate > hue/saturation > merge down > set blending mode to difference' routine one more time to make another layer that is blue. Here are the hue/saturation settings:
And how your image should look now:
- Finally, add a 'Twirl' filter (Filter > Distort > Twirl) to the top blue layer:
- And you're done!