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How to Create Realistic Smoke in Photoshop

Have you ever seen a pretty good Composite that looked pretty darn convincing only to be crippled by smoke that looked anything but realistic?

Today, I’m going to show you how to create realistic looking smoke in Photoshop.

Composite Photography and whether it’s successful or not boils down to the tinniest of details, which means there’s very little room for error when it comes to your technique.

So, put down your bong and let’s study some Smoke.

Photoshop Smoke Brush

Creating realistic smoke without the appropriate Photoshop brush tools is like trying to build a house without a hammer and nails.

Sure, it can be done, but how successful will it turn out?

There are a ton of free resources for all kinds of brushes, but to help you get started fast, here’s a set of smoke brushes that will work great.

Download Photoshop Smoke Brush

Don’t Be the ONE

Like I said in the video, there are a LOT of pretty good Composites that lose a lot of credibility because of the details, or should I say, the lack of attention to the details.

You don’t want to be the Composite Photographer who doesn’t pay close attention to detail.

I’m often asked by photographers new to Compositing, “How do you create such Awesome Composites”, and my answer is always, “I pay attention to the details.”

Clients ask me all the time, “How do you get so much detail in these portraits?”

My answer?

“That’s why I get paid the big bucks?”

In order to create Awesome Composites you absolutely need impeccable knockouts/cutouts, you’ve got to have a great understanding of light and shadows, and an even better understanding on how to create depth in your images using Dodge & Burn along with Shadows.

But if any detail is missed, what you thought would be an Awesome Composite is now just average like everyone else.

On average I spend between 24 hours and 35 hours on any given Creative Family Portrait I’m working on, with at least a THIRD of that time going to creating and cleaning up the small little pieces nobody thinks about.

In the movie Titanic, ever plate created for the dining room scenes was created to match the original plates EXACTLY, even though you as the audience would never see it and it would end up destroyed by the end of the movie.

It’s your attention to detail that separates you from everyone else.

That’s a Wrap

Trust me when I tell you, nobody spends the time necessary to work through the details of a Composite, so if you want to stand out from the crowd of average, just start paying a little attention to the details.

There’s a saying that goes something like, “If you do what other’s aren’t willing to do, you’ll get to do what others won’t be able to do.”

Leave a comment below and share what details you can pay more attention to.

Comments (2)

Thanks. Your guidance and tips are important and we appreciate your efforts for sharing this great information.

You’re welcome and I hope I can help.

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