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Smokin' with PS and Elements

This tutorial is an excerpt from of my Photoshop Pizzazz! Special Effects with Photoshop and Elements class at Eclectic Academy. If you want to learn more tricks, please consider enrolling in my class. Don't know how online classes work? Read this!

I'm going to end this lesson with something fun and you won't believe how easy it is! The Render > Clouds filter can be used for more than clouds. Realistic smoke is easily achieved using this filter.

Find a photo of your own: a cigarette, smokestacks, a building, a car, whatever. If you wish to use the cigarette I did a couple years ago as part of a no smoking sign for practice, right click and "save as" in your browser.


Follow this procedure:

Step 1: Use the lasso selection tool to draw a selection where you want the smoke to appear.

Cigarette with selection

Step 2: Type D to change the colors in the tool box to default black and white. (On the cigarette the smoke was too dark, so I changed the black to gray.)

Step 3: Go to Selection > Feather and enter the number you want to feather the selection. I can't give an exact number here because it will depend on the image you are using. On the cigarette I used 5, but on the car I used 30. You will have to experiment with this setting. That's why you have undo.

Cigarette with smoke selection feathered


Step 4: Go to Filter > Render > Clouds. See the result below. The insert is the colors I used.

Cigarette with rendered clouds


Step 5: We need to darken the smoke closer to the cigarette so use the lasso tool to make a selection where you want the smoke again.

cigarette with second smoke selection


Step 6: Select > Feather, then type command/control + F to repeat the filter on the new selection.

cigarette finished


A couple examples:

Whoever left this car is in for a surprise when they get back...

smokin' car


Smog (or is it something more sinister?) on an otherwise beautiful day.




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