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Create Smokey Typography in 12 Steps

Final Image

This is the final image that we’ll be creating:

User Suggestion

This tutorial is actually a suggestion of some of our visitors. I always welcome user suggestions and would love to get your ideas for future tutorials.

Images/Files Used

Here is a list of images and files used in this tutorial:

http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1114780

http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1111544

http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1080080

http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1063678

http://www.sxc.hu/photo/345436

Step 1

Open up a new document (600X250px) and create a new layer called ‘black background’. Fill your entire canvas with black.

Step 2

Now add some white text to the center of your canvas. I used the font ‘Gill Sans’ set to bold.

Step 3

Now duplicate your text layer. Select your original and rasterize it (layer>rasterize>layer). Then apply a motion blur to this layer by going to filter>blur>motion blur. Set your angle to 90 and your blur strength to 20. Finally reduce your layer’s opacity to 60%.

Step 4

Now paste in an image of some smoke. Make sure that you find an image of smoke on a black background, and if there is any color to your smoke go to image>adjustments>desaturate. Then change your layer’s blend mode to ‘exclusion’.

Step 5

Now select a large, soft eraser brush at a low opacity (around 10%) and erase the edges of your smoke image.

Step 6

Now repeat the same technique with another smoke image.

Step 7

Add some more smoke, being sure to erase parts of each image until things are looking good.

Step 8

Now paste in another smoke image, and set your layer blend mode to ‘multiply’. Then go to image>adjustments>levels and set your input levels to 0, 1.00, 100.

Step 9

You’ll notice that this layer now hides some of your previous smoke layers. To fix this grab a soft eraser brush and erase around your letters, exposing the rest of your smoke.

Step 10

Now if you remember we created 2 text layers earlier and rasterized the first one. Now it’s time to rasterize the second one. Once you have done this grab your smudge tool, and set your brush size to 40px and your strength to 60%. You want to start smudging the tops of the letters of your top text layer. To achieve a nice smokey effect, don’t simply smudge upwards, but make small circular smudging motions.

Also reduce this text layers opacity to 75%.

Step 11

Select your paintbrush tool and apply the settings shown below in your brush palette.

Step 12

Now paint over your text on a new top layer. To make your scattered brush marks more obvious duplicate your layer and merge it down with the original. Then apply an outer glow blending option to your layer (settings below).

And We’re Done!

I really hope that you enjoyed this tutorial, and as always I’d appreciate your comments.


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About the Author:

Tom is the founder of PSDFAN. He loves writing tutorials, learning more about design and interacting with the community. On a more interesting note he can also play guitar hero drunk with his teeth.

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117 Comments:

  1. loswl says:

    Very cool results, I love that it in Black and White too :o )

  2. Tom says:

    Thanks! I’m glad you liked the result.

  3. Shaw says:

    Thanks for using my suggestion Tom. Been waiting a while for you to come up with a tutorial for smoke text effect. It looked pretty hard, yet you made it look pretty easy and you have pulled it of terrifically! Well done :D
    I had a quick play in photoshop just to see if i could get a near result. Also i used the same smoke picture throughout but just stretched it, rotated it and used the liquify tool.
    http://i513.photobucket.com/albums/t340/shawmiester/smoke-test.jpg

  4. That’s great idea to put something like this together -how always – very good looking outcome! Nice, Tom!

  5. RaSh says:

    Ah awesome!
    I took a few smoke pics a while back.. Guess this will be a nice thing to add on when I post them :)

  6. Tom says:

    Awesome, I’d be happy to post your smoke images here if you’d like?

  7. ddz says:

    nice result, but how about a tut teaching how to take pics of smoke or how to create realistic smoke like that??

  8. sticktacular says:

    TO MAKE THIS AWESOME EFFECT BETTER, CHANGE THE TEXT TO BLACK AND PUT IT AS THE TOP LAYER

  9. Matt says:

    Wow great tutorial, I loved it, put my own style into it with some color ;)

    http://i42.tinypic.com/2jb85mw.jpg

  10. Matt says:

    =) couldn’t have done it without the tut

  11. Teknotik says:

    nice out come ;) A++ tutorial it was easy to read.

    how come I can not join this site ?

    • Tom says:

      Thanks for the kind words Teknotik. I’m afraid the members area hasn’t launched due to some totally unforeseen problems in the file upload. I’m getting it fixed currently though and will announce when it launches.

  12. vasu says:

    its cool effect i love this effect thanks Tom

  13. Nillix says:

    step 4 dosnt make sense when i paste the image in it covers my letters can u tell me how i can get the background of the smoke and only leave the smoke ????

    • Tom says:

      Make sure to set your layer’s blend mode to ‘exclusion’ in your layers palette. If this doesn’t work try setting it to ‘screen’ mode.

  14. Matthew says:

    This is not typography. Yes, it is nice, yes, it is well done. But please stop calling this typography, this is design using type as an element or centre piece. Nice job on it but please consider what you are calling it next time.

  15. Brandon L says:

    this is such a rip off of PSDVAULT.com’s smoke text effect

    • Tom says:

      I just looked through their text tutorials and I’m not sure which tutorial you’re referring to? Either way I didn’t rip them off, if it’s similar then it’s purely through coincidence.

    • Tom says:

      I’m afraid I’m not quite sure what you said there (being terrible at languages), but I had to approve your comment as your result is really awesome! Nice work :)

  16. Pedro says:

    he said that was his result. Also said it was an easy tutorial but very good :p these spanish guys suck at english xD im still trying to follow your steps and its looking good! awsome result. thanks a lot.

    oh btw what are those brushes you use?

  17. xea says:

    Thanks very much for this tutorial, nice ;)

  18. reza says:

    nice
    and cool
    very thank’s for your Tutorial

  19. What a really great result. These design tutorials serve to keep a lot of people inspired. Thanks for sharing.

  20. erwin says:

    thanks….that’s great tutorial…keep it up…

  21. tech9 says:

    ^^ nice tutorial but theres something was not good.copying a smoking to an image?? do you can make a tutorial how to make a smoke???thanks email me at tech9_god@yahoo.com

  22. lalo says:

    Thank you for the tutorial, only I have a small problem, it(he,she) is that not to do that the smoke sees on the letters and not below.
    Thank you

  23. Arus says:

    thanks so much for this tutorial i made a rockin insert for my scanlation group and it came out great after a couple of tries ^^ i used a font that already had splatter so i wouldnt have to worry about that later lol…and i just want to comment that there are some really rude postings in this tutorial and just want to thank you for even wanting to share with us and continuing to reply to each and every comment.

  24. Ervin says:

    where can I find Gill Sans Bold?
    thanks

  25. Terence says:

    Dude thanks a bunch this was incredible and very easy to read :D TYVM!!!

    Result: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=82172&id=839858705&saved#/photo.php?pid=2206552&id=839858705

  26. zargraph says:

    tank you

  27. Dania says:

    This was extremely helpful! I’ve been trying to learn to do typographical designs and this smoke style was quite easy to do. here is the link to my result:

    http://hautalken.deviantart.com/art/Intuition-Smoke-138515872

  28. taryarL says:

    that’s pretty cool
    thank a lot :)

  29. i love smokey typography where you given great tips and tricks. thanks

  30. Chingiz says:

    I am from Azerbaidjan and i liked it

  31. FluoCantus says:

    I just got contracted to do some work for a hookah bar and really didn’t have any good ways to make smokey text, but this is great! Thanks so much for helping me keep my job! ;)

  32. melissa says:

    http://ooohoman.deviantart.com/art/Fail-Gloriously-2-0-147659025

    my attempt! i added color as well =]
    thank you for making such an easy to follow tutorial! my lack of patience thanks you.

  33. [...] Create Smokey Typography in 12 Steps [...]

  34. Bd says:

    Nice tutorial, great work!

  35. Tom says:

    I love these smoke-effects!
    great! thank you

  36. fahimeh says:

    Thank you dear tom ,
    very cool tutorial .
    i love it

  37. Nice work… Simple and very effective. Thanks for posting

  38. ami says:

    thx…looks great!
    but i still dont understand how to manage step 4…
    im using the german version of PS, i can try hours but i just dont get how u do this step…
    how the smoke is in front of the text while its not just smoke but has also a black background…I’m a newbie ;) plz can someone explain it so i can follow :D
    thXxxx

  39. ami says:

    omg :) ) i got it…thXxx so much 4 the tutorial ^_^

  40. Imprimantes says:

    This smokey typography is awesome and it is not one of the hardest to achieve.

    Thanks for the tutorial.

  41. Sairah says:

    Quite an easy tutorial, thanks. =)

  42. knazze says:

    one question how can i add the image to the project ??
    when i open the image it opens it in a new file …. not with the project ..

  43. jun Adanza says:

    smoky
    and cool design!
    gotta try that on my comp. thnx allot! =)

  44. Texture Plus says:

    very easy to follow tutorial Tom, thanks a lot.

  45. Prue says:

    That is an awesome tutorial, thank you for making it sound so easy!

  46. Squared says:

    Hi!

    Could anyone explain

    “Step 8

    Now paste in another smoke image, and set your layer blend mode to ‘multiply’. Then go to image>adjustments>levels and set your input levels to 0, 1.00, 100. ”

    ? I don’t understand the “now paste in another smoke image…”… I added 4 smoke images and put the bend mode like exclusion like the tut says… What layer am I supposed to turn the blend mode to multiply?

    thanks, and great tut!

  47. hater says:

    I still dont understand step 4 the smoke wont come in front of the text :(

  48. I’d be tempted to find some decent smoke stock on black, set blend mode to screen and warp it a bit, just to add a touch more realism.

  49. Phillip says:

    Awesome tutorial! A natural as always! :)

  50. alex says:

    hi tom,
    wen i set the blend mode of the smoke to exclusion my text and the smoke turn into a brown color?!

    help me plz

  51. jpdbst says:

    hi can you say me where do i download the brush used in stp. 11 at the beggining
    thanks

  52. Shantam says:

    awesome thanks man..!! really easy

  53. A really nice effect. I am trying to get use to using more effects and tools in photo shop so I will definitely will be trying this out. I will be searching through some other effects too so thanks for all the help!

  54. Alan says:

    How to create smokey text….first, create your text….now paste in an image of some smoke. And We’re Done!

  55. jay says:

    hey tom i didnt understand step 4 ….when i go through step 4 ..the smoke back ground is covering whole text …help me man ..how can i mix smoke with text as u shown in step 4

  56. Manik says:

    Awesome effect. It seems very natural. Love it.
    Thanks for sharing.

  57. Onefreedonut says:

    hey for those of you who’re having trouble with step 4, try changing your mode to RGB. Worked for me!:P

  58. Fuqk says:

    Onefreedonut speaks the truth

  59. Jessica says:

    Awesome Tutorial! gave me great results, thanks

  60. deepak` says:

    man i loved this effect so much but if we want to have a smooth overlay of rainbow gradient will it look nice…!

  61. peter says:

    easy to follow?good?

  62. saydo says:

    Nice result thanks for you idea

  63. Youky says:

    It is a cool tut but I don’t get it on Step 4!
    I tried Exclusion, screen mode(and actually all the mode) to get the smoke come out through type but I can’t.
    I found out many others ask you the same question here.
    It’s been a while but if you happen to check comments again, please let us know! thank you

  64. Luis says:

    Hi there I have the same problem on step 4 please some one to help thanks….

  65. HEENA says:

    I DIDN’T GET 8TH STEP …..CAN U PLEASE EXPLAIN ME HOW WE CAN PASTE ANOTHER SMOKE IMAGE…….? AND HOW WE CAN GIVE THAT CRUSH EFFECT TO THE TEXT…?

  66. Nice post – very easy to follow. End result seems to create a big file size. How would one reduce this?

  67. piyush says:

    i got ur tut right till 7th step..
    then in 8th step u said

    “Now paste in another smoke image, and set your layer blend mode to ‘multiply’. Then go to image>adjustments>levels and set your input levels to 0, 1.00, 100. ”

    till 7th step i have got about 5-6 layers..so i am not getting as to change which layer blend mode to multiply..
    plzz reply me fast…..

  68. I Am also having the same problem at step 8 …. can someone please advise how to get this progressed.

    Thanks looks a lot nice the final effect.

  69. Nice tutorial. I forgot I had an account at http://www.sxc.hu.
    Thanks for sharing its lots of fun working with smoke.

  70. This comment is for Swift Services who asked about reducing file size; if the end file size is too big, the easiest way to reduce it would be to compress it. You could use a program like Arles or Photoshop. Keep in mind that the more you compress the image, the lower quality the image will be (blurrier etc).

  71. Haley says:

    I know this is an old tutorial but I had a question about a complication I’m having with completing it. I’m trying to apply this smoke effect to something I’ve drawn digitally. The object is colored. Now, when I lay the smoke layer on top of the object the smoke starts looking like a film negative, if you know what I mean. I desaturated the picture of smoke I used just to be on the safe side and it’s still doing that. Any idea on what I could do to fix it?

  72. shreya says:

    nice tutorial

  73. Bert says:

    Here’s what i got, thanks for the tutorial!! :) :)

    [IMG]http://i53.tinypic.com/rlkdj7.jpg[/IMG]

    • Tom says:

      Nice work Bert, I really love your application of color. One thing I’d advise is to make your final image a bit sharper so we can see all of the work that went into it even more clearly.

  74. Kuldip says:

    Awesome,Easy And Fun.
    Thanxxxxxxxxxxx

  75. visor khan says:

    worked 100%

  76. PhotoAddict says:

    I did fine til step 8 .. idk what to do there… if someone can help me out there, my email: bbsimonrd@gmail.com

  77. royal says:

    anyone post a .psd file please

  78. Max says:

    thanks for this awesome tutorial!

    here is my result:
    http://img84.imageshack.us/img84/180/dubby.png

  79. cj says:

    So you could make this smoke another color right?

  80. Dr. Chad Jones says:

    THanx for excellent pix broher tom It was a great help to me for making a bullentin board. I was sooooooooooooooo easy to follow. Thanx again bro I dont know what I would do without you

  81. Miley says:

    Sweet.. I realy enjoyed.. twas very helpful

  82. PHysick says:

    Simple and awesome. great when negative

  83. Seph says:

    Woooooow!! nice one… keep it up student..

  84. Ashley says:

    Not enough explaining. If it was meant to be self explanatory it didn’t come off as such. Redo.

    • Tom says:

      Hi Ashley, what stages were you struggling with? I’d be happy to help. We also have an updated version of the tutorial.

  85. Heijn says:

    Can someone upload the Lightcloud 2 picture because the person/account who uploaded the file at sxc is “canceled”?

    Thanks in advance :)

    Ps what an awesome tutorial!

  86. VIREN says:

    AWESOME THNX

  87. I’d Like to Smoke Effect……Very happy to sharing your Post

  88. Lizzie says:

    This is absolutely awesome.

    Well written and the end effect is fantastic.

    Thank you so much.

  89. Lisa says:

    Thank you for a very precise explanation. Great result even for the beginners!

  90. Shayan says:

    can I have someone write the word ‘Vzone ‘ with this technique. I am willing to pay for your time. Thank you.

  91. dirt e moves says:

    where do i get the brush tip shape in step 11? i dont seem to have it, thanks

  92. shehzad abbasi says:

    hi, tutorial was great… i m fscing problem in step 12. can anyone of you explain it to me?? please

  93. Arun Thapa says:

    i am also Very happy to sharing your Post thanks for this triks….

  94. Maham says:

    Pls help…i got stuck on step 8. If you change the blending mode of this smoke pic to multiply instead of exclusion, then the background shows up…what am i doing wrong? Oh actually maybe its that my backgrounds not black but a grey-ish sort of metal texture…does that interfere with the design?

  95. mahari says:

    I’m having trouble with finding that type of brush you used in step 11

  96. Jake says:

    Fantastic tutorial. I am teaching my little brother how to use photoshop for text effects and this is perfect. Would it be possible to obtain a psd file with all the layers so he could see how they are all interlinked? thanks.

  97. Sean says:

    hi is there any chance someone can do this design but with the words One Step Ahead….if anyone can do i need it before next thursday thanks

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