Articles, Blog

Photoshop: How to Create a Portrait of SMOKE.

November 17, 2019

Hi. This is Marty from Blue Lightning TV. I’m going to show you how to create a stunning,
smoke portrait. Before we begin, if my tutorials have helped you learn or improve in Photoshop, please consider supporting my channel by becoming my patron for as little as $2 per month. Click the Patron button at the upper right or the Patreon link in my video’s description below. Any amount you can pledge is greatly appreciated. There have been a few tutorials on smoke portraits, however, I wanted to do one that streamlines the process by removing many of the steps that I felt were unnecessary. First, download the custom brush set I provided. Its located in my video’s description below
or project files. If you’re not sure how to install them,
watch my tutorial showing how to do it. I provided that link, as well. Create a new document by pressing Ctrl or Cmd + N. Make its Width: 1920 pixels, its Height: 1080 pixels and its Resolution: 72 pixels per inch. The background is white. Then, click “Create” or Open”. Click the Adjustment Layer icon and click “Gradient”. Click the Gradient bar and click the “Black, White” thumbnail. Click the lower, left Stop and the color box. In the hexadecimal field, type in 80, three times. Then, click OK on the the Color Picker and
Gradient Editor. Make the Style: “Radial”, the Angle: 45 degrees
and check “Reverse”. Make the Scale: 200%. Make the background active. Since we don’t need it anymore, press the
“Delete” key on your keyboard or, if you’re using an earlier version of Photoshop, drag
the background to the Trash. Open a photo of someone’s face that you’d
like to use for this project. I downloaded this one from Shutterstock. We’re going to make a selection around our
subject in order to separate it from its background. There are many ways to do this, but for this
example, I’ll use the Quick Selection Tool. If you’re using this tool as well, I find
that approximately a 10 pixel radius generally works fine for most photos. Drag the cursor over your subject. To remove areas outside your subject, press
and hold Alt or Option as you drag over those areas. Once you make the selection, you can refine
it by going to Select and “Select and Mask” or, on versions earlier than CC 2015.5, Refine Edge. I did in-depth tutorials on both Select
and Mask and Refine Edge, so if you’d like to watch them, I provided their links, aswell. Once you refine it, output it to a “New Layer
with Layer Mask”. We’ll convert our separated image into Smart
Object, so we can modify it non-destructively. To do this, click the icon at the upper, right of the Layers panel and click, “Convert to Smart Object”. We’ll place our subject onto the background
we created earlier. To do this, press “v” to open your Move Tool and drag your subject onto the tab of the background. Without releasing your mouse or pen, drag
it down and release. To resize, position and angle it, open your
Transform Tool by pressing Ctrl or Cmd + T. If you don’t see the Transform’s entire bounding
box, press Ctrl or Cmd + 0. To resize it, go to a corner and when you
see a diagonal, double-arrow, press and hold Alt or Option + Shift as you drag it in or out. To re-position it, go inside the bounding box and drag it. To angle it, go to a corner and when you see a curved, double-arrow, rotate it to an angle you like. Continue to finesse it until you like its
size, position and angle. Then, press Enter or Return. To fit in back onto your canvas, press Ctrl
or Cmd and the plus key on your keyboard. Click the Adjustment layer icon and click “Black White”. Open the Black and white preset list and click “Infrared”. Next, we’ll intensify our subject’s brightness
and contrast even more. Make you subject active and click the Adjustment
Layer icon. Click “Curves”. If the bottom of the Curves panel is hidden,
just drag the panel down. In the second box from the bottom, go to the diagonal line and drag the control point down just a wee bit. Go to the top right corner box and drag it
up approximately this much. Adjustment layers affect all the layers below
it in the Layers panel, but we want the Curves Adjustment layer to affect just our subject
and not the background. Either click the Clipping mask icon or press Ctrl + Alt + G on Windows or Cmd + Option + G on a Mac. You can also go to Layer and “Create Clipping Mask”. We’re ready to reveal our subject through smoke. First, make your subject active and Alt-click
or Option-click the Layer Mask icon to make an inverted layer mask. This masks out your subject. We’ll reveal it back in by stamping the layer
mask with the smoke brushes I provided. In the Properties panel, temporarily reduce
the layer mask’s “Density”, so we can see our subject through it. Invert your foreground and background colors
by pressing “x” on your keyboard. White should be your foreground color. Open your Brush Tool and Brush Picker. Scroll down. If you don’t see the “Real Smoke” preset,
click the gear icon and click it. You’ll see a message that either asks you
to add the smoke brushes to your list of Brush presets or asks you to replace or append your
present list. For the later, click “Append” and for the
former, click OK. Open the group to see all your choices. This is an enormous set of real smoke images,
so you have plenty from which to choose. I like to start with a smoke image that defines
the jawline of my subject. Once you click on a brush, press Enter or Return. Make sure the Opacity and Flow are both 100%. Before we click on our document to apply the
smoke, we have the ability to rotate our image, so the smoke conforms to the angle of our subject. To do this, press and hold “R” on your keyboard
and when you see the compass, rotate it to angle that fits the particular smoke brush. When you release the rotation, your Brush
Tool should automatically become active again. If, for some reason, it doesn’t, press “B”
on your keyboard. To see your subject right side up, open your
Navigator panel. If you don’t see it, go to Window and Navigator. Then, position the smoke and click once to
stamp it onto your image. If you don’t like the effect of a particular
smoke image, just press “z” to undo it. If you want to adjust the smoke’s size, press
the left or right bracket key on your keyboard. To rotate your image back to normal, press
“R” again and rotate it back. If you press the Shift key as you do it, it’ll
snap into position. Once you have two or three smoke brushes on
your subject, open back the Properties panel and increase the layer mask’s density to 100%. Then, open back the Navigator panel. Continue these steps to reveal more of the
face through the smoke brushes. Notice that the smoke is confined to the shape of your subject. Next, we’ll add smoke onto the background that’s not confined to the face. To do this, first, make the Curves adjustment
layer active and make a new layer above it. Make sure your foreground color is black and
open a smoke brush. Adjust its size and rotate the canvas to get
your subject to be angled that’s best for the smoke brush you’re using. If you want to add white smoke, just press
“x” on your keyboard to invert your foreground and background colors. This is Marty from Blue Lightning TV. Thanks for watching!


  • Reply فهد بن محمد March 18, 2018 at 11:14 pm


  • Reply Eric March 18, 2018 at 11:16 pm


  • Reply carl newell March 18, 2018 at 11:35 pm

    Marty Marty Marty!! DOES it again!!

  • Reply sponge bob March 18, 2018 at 11:43 pm

    That's an absolute MAGIC !!!! Again you're amazing!!!!!

  • Reply laszlo zsurka March 18, 2018 at 11:50 pm

    Great tutorial!

  • Reply Andrea Merchak March 18, 2018 at 11:50 pm

    This is awesome!

  • Reply Roland Csuka March 19, 2018 at 12:05 am

    You are the best!
    For two platform its fantastic
    Thank you so much!

  • Reply laddawan promtong March 19, 2018 at 12:08 am

    คุณยอดเยี่ยมมาก ฉันอยากให้คุณสอน การทำตัวหนังสือ 3D ให้หน่อย ฉันไม่รู้จะปรับอย่างไร ฉันกด New 3D Extrusion From Selected Layer ไม่ขึ้นเป็น ตะราง 3D เลยฉันทำผิด ตรงไหน ฉันใชั Photoshop Cs6 ช่วยอธิบายช้าๆนะ ขอบคุณมาก I love you

  • Reply Cati Narézi March 19, 2018 at 1:02 am

    What font is that?

  • Reply Mourya modugula March 19, 2018 at 1:18 am

    my ps6 is too slow to load the filters why is it so??

  • Reply Harold Hayes III March 19, 2018 at 3:04 am

    Fantastic, Thanks!

  • Reply bdnazmul88 March 19, 2018 at 3:55 am

    wao awesome video thank u.

  • Reply Kaveh Mad March 19, 2018 at 4:22 am

    ? Hi, thanks for the tutorial never I could not find the project fails where it is

  • Reply Andrew Grabham March 19, 2018 at 10:03 am

    Nice job Marty, you have just made a really great technique available to me and many others. Thanks for sharing.

  • Reply Cathy Neary March 19, 2018 at 12:07 pm

    Thank you!!! Great tutorial and helpful, indeed! Hugs!

  • Reply Kids Fun Play Learn March 19, 2018 at 2:49 pm

    Great tutorial 👍

  • Reply Peter Lewis March 19, 2018 at 4:12 pm

    Why in the world would anyone give this a thumbs down? As usual, Marty is both brilliant, and clear. Stunning!

  • Reply Royhaan Al-Athory March 19, 2018 at 6:25 pm

    Great job, as always

  • Reply Robert Mutch March 19, 2018 at 6:47 pm

    Thanks a lot Marty! 🙂

  • Reply Returning Shadow March 19, 2018 at 8:31 pm

    Uh Marty, when creating a radial gradient the angle is irrelevant because it's all in a circle.

  • Reply Karolina P. March 19, 2018 at 9:39 pm

    Thank you very much for english subtitles! You have so nice and clear voice that I decided to learn english with you ^_^

  • Reply Rober Rondon March 20, 2018 at 3:44 am

    muy buen tutorial amigo

  • Reply Trish Harmon March 20, 2018 at 4:54 am

    Marty, as always, your tutorial is wonderful. Because of you, I've had the confidence to expand on my Photoshop skills, and I'm getting great results. Starting next month, I will be contributing to your channel (after I get back from a vacation to see my daughter and grandson) because you have been invaluable in helping me and so many others learn in such an easy manner. Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge with us.

  • Reply Mohammad Hamadeh March 20, 2018 at 12:37 pm

    Tkank you Marty ,thanks is not eough to apriciat your efforts ,you are the photoshop master.

  • Reply Faro Mojahedi March 21, 2018 at 3:01 am

    Very intuitive. Thank you

  • Reply Shuhhashree Pasalkar March 22, 2018 at 4:06 am

    Thanks for helping.. Such a great and easy techniques.. Expecting to learn so much from you..

  • Reply Sectret Designs March 24, 2018 at 1:33 am

    Which is your screen recorder

  • Reply Mainclips March 24, 2018 at 9:32 pm

    how do you get this robot voice ??

  • Reply Gócz Béla March 25, 2018 at 4:42 pm

    your tuts are the best tuts on the web!!!

  • Reply Gina F March 26, 2018 at 12:20 pm

    Was sesrching for a tutorial just like this .. this works so perfect, thanks a lot for doing it!

  • Reply franklin moreno March 29, 2018 at 9:34 am

    No one explain better than you

  • Reply Wahyu Jodi April 1, 2018 at 10:37 am

    How i can download that pic from shutterstock?…at there the picture must bought with money

  • Reply ******* April 9, 2018 at 9:20 am


  • Reply AJ Sharf April 12, 2018 at 4:21 am

    The best presenter highly favored.

  • Reply Akshay Gaikwad May 2, 2018 at 6:48 am

    How do you bring back the black and white colour of the face ?

  • Reply Millan Bhardwaj May 3, 2018 at 8:49 am

    thank you blue marty, this has really helped me, become better at photoshop. Thanks

  • Reply Jonathan O'Sullivan May 4, 2018 at 9:23 am

    Thank you ever so much I feel confident and extremely proud of myself, definitely recommend this to anyone starting up the computer industry

  • Reply Dan Osler May 4, 2018 at 9:25 am

    Blue Marty u inspire me on a daily basis I think u deserve an Oscar as well as a pay rise however I can’t sub to the channel for medical reasons I hope u understand

  • Reply Daniel Hardy May 4, 2018 at 7:02 pm

    Thank you Marty from blue lighting tv for inspiring me to becoming a more fulfilled person. Thx G

  • Reply William Knox May 5, 2018 at 10:07 am

    Thank you so much Marty BLTV has reallly inspired me to become a photoshop artist it has helped me overcome all of the obsticalls on the way, 🙏 thank you

  • Reply William Knox May 7, 2018 at 8:35 pm

    Really amazing ! I just want to let you know how amazing and professional you are. Keep up the good work! 🙂

  • Reply Tom Manaell May 9, 2018 at 8:06 pm

    At first I had no idea how to do this and now this video has inspired me to follow my dreams and be a graphic designer.

  • Reply Matthew Beattie May 10, 2018 at 1:59 pm

    Very informative

  • Reply Nikos Tsakinis May 16, 2018 at 2:49 pm

    Many Thanks Marty…

  • Reply Leo Smith May 24, 2018 at 6:43 pm

    Thanks for sharing, my first result with this technique:×1080-wallpaper
    Sources of course linked 😉

  • Reply BUDDi THEEM June 8, 2018 at 5:23 pm

    Hi Marty. This is Buddi from Germany. I installed your Smoke-Brushes from Your link down below. Are these brushes usable when I work on pictures I want to sell? Sorry for my bad english, I hope you undertstand. When i´m working on a picture with this Smoke-Brushes and someone would like to buy one of this Pictures? Possible? Or do I need a licence? Thank you for Your answer and your great work, I really enjoy!!! 1000 times Thank You!

  • Reply Mast Kake June 29, 2018 at 12:07 pm

    Good job sir

  • Reply Shore Design July 3, 2018 at 6:16 pm

    Hi Marty , I love your work , i was wondering what program you used to create your new intro for this video , could you please tell me , thank you

  • Reply Frances Scrimshaw July 13, 2018 at 8:13 pm

    Hi Marty. I followed all the instructions. Brushes loaded. Mask selected. Brush shows on screen but when I click once it does not 'stick' to the picture. It is just floating about. Please can you (or anyone) help. Thanks

  • Reply Antonio Melton-Molina July 14, 2018 at 5:01 am

    does it need to be black and white

  • Reply Tigrezz Shamrock July 15, 2018 at 7:02 pm

    when I push the properties opacity back to 100 % my face doesn't show up what am I doing wrong

  • Reply نور الشمس August 12, 2018 at 1:35 pm


  • Reply Adam Drago August 19, 2018 at 12:16 pm

    Thank you for all your great tutorials. I have a question though. I'm attempting to do a smoke image but with a different picture. The picture is of an old man with a long beard. For some reason there are parts of the beard where the smoke won't show up. Can you tell me why that is?

  • Reply Hamad Editz August 25, 2018 at 3:17 am

    All of your videos are very helpfull.

  • Reply Karen von Knobloch September 19, 2018 at 4:31 pm

    Hi Marty…thanks for this wonderful tutorial. Just wondered if you had it available as an ebook or pdf file. I would be willing to purchase one. I have a tough time working from your screen to my image and follow along. Thanks in advance!

  • Reply Tyler Swartz April 14, 2019 at 9:24 pm

    Damn that was a well made informational vid

  • Reply Rupa Chakraborti May 4, 2019 at 11:44 am


  • Leave a Reply