How to Create Smoke Easily in Photoshop

Using smoke in photo shoots has been popular recently, but adding a smoke effect in Photoshop has a longer history, and it is easier than you think.

One of the most common ways of adding smoke in Photoshop is finding a smoke image which is shot on black background, and placing that image as a layer by setting its blend mode to Screen. This trick usually works, but you are limited by the smoke or dust images you have. Advertising photographers usually capture these additional element images on set, as they are briefed by the client and have the final image as a draft. But, not every photographer works that way, and sometimes a digital smoke effect done in Photoshop can create good results.

In this video, you will find an easy way of adding smoke by using Photoshop’s native brushes. Car photographer Moe Zainal demonstrates this trick on one of his automotive images step-by-step. The final image shows that a photo shot on a cloudy day can turn into something more exciting.

This trick can be applied to other types of images for sure, and considering the ease of application, it’s worth to try. If you have any tips or tricks about adding smoke or dust effects in Photoshop, please share in the comments below.

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4 Comments

Michael Holst's picture

Probably one of the best smoke tutorials I've seen. The result looks real unlike most examples.

Robert Callahan's picture

I totally agree, but I think it's largely due to the angle of the car. Once you start getting too high the lack of color reflection on the car becomes more apparent, so this trick doesn't work for a lot of commercial style car photos.

Michael Holst's picture

Yeah I agree but I think smoke is overused anyways. It should only be used when it works. Some people want to include it in their PP just because they can.

I think this looks so realistic because it also has some noticeable density variances in the clouds.

great tutorial. I cannot find the link to download the cloud brushes