How To Create a Stunning Smoke Effect In PhotoShop

I recently stumbled on a Tutorial that shows you how to create smoke effects on a black background in Adobe PhotoShop.
This is my take on it….

This method is pretty straightforward and easy. It uses the Liquify filter in PhotoShop.

First off, create a new file @ 300 ppi. My preferred dims are 960×1440 because of the 960 grid system.
Paint it Black.

Create a white squiggle line with brush. I wanted to start with a nicely smoothed line, so I created this in Illustrator and pasted it as a Smart Object. I doubt that it made a difference though (I could have just as effectively created the squiggle with PhotoShop)

Next, we go to Filters>Liquify. The three main tools to use are ‘Forward Warp’, ‘Twirl’ and ‘Pucker’. In CS5 there are 3 main controls for the FX brush : ‘Size’, ‘Density’ and ‘Pressure’. Have a play around with the settings. I started off with a large brush of 211 and medium pressure, then went down to a 50 size and 80 pressure for detail. Having said that – don’t do too much yet. We just want a mild upwards departure from the original image.

Once you have processed the Liquify filter, goto Edit>Fade Liquify. Turn the mod down to 50% opacity.

Now the idea is to build up many strands of light, mimicking smoke. So we do the same process again.

…and again! Don’t be afraid to experiment – “We don’t have mistakes here, we just have happy accidents!”

A few more goes…

And we end up with this – I Likes it.