We draw smoke using a graphics tablet in Photoshop

Quite often on the Internet you can find fancy pictures from the smoke. Sculptures made of smoke made famous by the German artist Thomas Herbrich. He photographs smoke and from his photographs he creates his own compositions. You can also create brushes and patterns from smoke photos for later use in your ideas. And you can not annoy the fire inspection and, without setting fire to yourself, draw smoke using the tools of graphic editors using graphic tablets.

Before we get to work, we optimize our workspace. Graphics tablet Wacom Intuos4 L, which I used in this lesson is quite large and takes up a lot of space on the desktop, and there is also a keyboard. A lot of time is saved when used in work. Shortcut keys (hotkeys). But it is not always possible to conveniently place both a keyboard and a tablet on the table in front of the monitor. The solution is pretty obvious. Virtually all current Wacom graphics tablet models have additional soft keys. – ExpressKeys, and the Intuos4 series is also TouchRing, which has four programmable modes of operation, as well as Radial Menu (quite convenient menu, called ExpressKeys and having the ability to create submenus). ExpressKeys can be configured the same way to work with all applications, and apply its own parameters for each program separately.

By default, the keys and menus of Intuos4 are already set up for frequently used commands, but, taking into account the specifics of work in a specific graphical editor, we modify these settings a bit. The changes I made in the first place: the cmd / ctrl + T (transform) and shift + cmd / ctrl + N (create new layer) commands are assigned to the ExpressKeys buttons. And also I added the Radial Menu of the tablet with commands calling the Curves settings (cmd / ctrl + M), Levels (cmd / ctrl + L), Hue / Saturation (cmd / ctrl + U), Fade (shift + cmd / ctrl + F) .

I left the Command submenu unchanged.

The changes did not affect the ring settings TouchRing, which allows you to control the scale of the image (that is, almost completely abandon the use of the Zoom tool), move between layers, change the size of the brush, and rotate the canvas. But, unfortunately, not all applications support this feature.

For the lesson, I used a few photos specially taken in the studio. We will learn to finish drawing smoke on photographs, gradually complicating the task. Draw a smoke coming from the fingers, as if from a gun barrel after a shot. On the new layer (this is where the ExpressKeys with the programmed shift + cmd / ctrl + N combination came in handy) with the tool Brush (brush) and settings on the Brushes panel, we will draw a few strokes that still remotely resemble smoke.

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When drawing using the following settings brush: Shape dynamics (shape dynamics) – is responsible for changes in the diameter of the brush. In this case, the thickness of the brush was made dependent on force pressing pen (Pen Pressure). Wet edge – imitates the work of water paints and creates a stroke, more dense at the edges and translucent in the center. Smoothing – smoothing. Now apply the filter Wave (wave) from the menu Filter / Distort / Wave (Filter – Distortion – Wave).

Approximately the following parameters should be used:
Number of Generators – 5;
Wavelength – 10/120;
Amplitude – 5/35;
Scale – 100%.

Use the button Randomize (randomize) to get filter application options. Now weaken the filter action with the help of the already programmed in Expresskeys teams Fade (let loose).

Alternately, repeat the action using the filter Wave and weakening Fade to achieve the desired result. To give the smoke the desired shape, you may need to use transformations or use a filter. Liquify (Plastic). As a result, I got the following.

For a rather complex combination of rings of smoke released from the mouth, even promised an impressive prize. Let’s try and let them go, but we use not a mouth, but a graphic tablet Wacom. Again, on a new layer, but on a different image and in a manner already known, we will draw several rings.

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As before, we apply the filter to this layer many times alternately. Wave (Wave) and the team Fade (Loosen), but in order to achieve the best result in the intervals between applying the filter we will slightly blur the instrument Blur (Blur) some details of smoky rings. First of all, to give perspective, – the inner (in this case, upper) part of the rim of the ring. In addition, I applied a layer effect Bevel and Emboss (stamping / bevel), giving the proper volume to these rings.

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If it is necessary to obtain more complex patterns from the smoke, other tools available to us in graphic editors may be needed. Let’s try to draw a fish. In the new document with a black background draw a fish.

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Use filter again Wave (Wave) and the team Fade (Let loose).

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But since the filter rather distorts the original image, it is necessary to periodically correct it with the tool. Smudge (Finger). The same tool can be drawn details that were not previously. Just as in the case of other drawing and retouching tools, it is useful to use the settings of the tool, depending on the pressure of the pen.

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Let’s transfer the resulting picture to the photo with a joyful, dreamy face.

ExpressKeys, TouchRing, Radial Menu of the tablet

Now let the smoke through your ears. In the new file with a black background, create a new layer and draw a spiral in it. Immediately weaken the inner visible part of the spiral with the tool Eraser (eraser). By the way, the eraser is on the back of the Wacom pen. It is sensitive to pressure as well as the tip of the pen, and “turned on” by simply turning the pen (you do not need to select “Eraser” in the Photoshop toolbar). It is very convenient to use the setting. Opacity (opacity).

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Now apply the traditional Wave filter and the Fade command.

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For a clearer image, you may need another layer with the original pattern superimposed on the modified filter with the image using the layer transparency.

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Tool help may be needed again. Eraser (Eraser). We transfer the resulting image to the photo with the girl.

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I applied toning to all images using the dialog Black and white (Black and white) from the menu Image / Adjustments / Black and White (Image – Correction – Black and White) with the settings as in the following illustration, and pre-glued all layers.

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It’s time to learn how to make an image out of smoke, using a photo as a source. In this case, it will be a photograph of a male fist, previously converted to a black and white image.

To achieve the desired result, we will need several copies of the layer obtained from the selection made from the general RGB channel or Channel grayscale, if the image had a matching color model.

Hold ctrl / cmd and click on the channel icon. Using the selection, copy (copy) only the light parts of the fist and paste them into a new layer (Paste). Both commands are available in our Command submenu in the Radial Menu.

From this layer we have to get a few duplicates. After that, we convert one of the layers using the filter Wave (Wave) and the team Fade(Let loose).

Blur another layer on the filter. Gaussian blur (Gaussian Blur) from the menu Filter / Blur / Gaussian Blur (Filter – Blur – Gaussian Blur)

A filter must be applied to the third layer. Glowing edges (Glow edges). Filter path: Filter /Stylize /Glowing Edges (Filter – Stylization – Edge Glow)

We also need an unchanged layer with light fist areas. We combine these layers using different degrees of transparency of the layers and blending modes of the layers (first of all Soft light). Gluing the layers involved in this image, transfer the resulting layer to the final image and adjust it in scale. Most likely, you will need to slightly draw some details and mute too sharp sections. And here again we will come to the aid of a graphics tablet and drawing and retouching tools, which are much more convenient to use if the settings for the size and degree of transparency are made dependent on the pressure of the pen.

On how to finish the missing parts of the smoke, I will not stop in detail. I hope, from the above examples, everything is quite clear. Therefore, only give the result I received.

There are final touches. Smoke always has some shade and is rarely pure white. In this case, for toning the smoke, I will use a new layer on which I painted spots with different colors, repeating the overall silhouette of the fist from the smoke.

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After that I put it in the layer blending mode. Color on the final image.

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Thus, it is sometimes easier to draw some elements of an image using a graphic tablet than to use additional photographic images as a source material for these elements. I can only wish you success in your creative experiments.

Author: Timofey Trefilov

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