Smokey Typography

Posted in Uncategorized by Scott on November 25, 2009

I’m going to do another typography tutorial today. This time it will be number 6 from the list. This is another one that is quite simple to do, yet produces a really neat effect. The original is called Create Smokey Typography in 12 Steps written by Tom over at


Okay so to start off, we’re going to need some images of smoke. I found the following on searching their Creative Commons by-nc-sa section, which is a fantastic resource.

I opened all these photo’s in the GIMP and desaturated them and inverted their colors as necessary so that the smoke is white and the background is black. Minimize those windows or otherwise set them aside for later.

Open a new document, black background 600×125 pixels.


Next add some text to your document. Any font will do. I chose a bold sans font.


Now, duplicate your text layer, select the original text layer and click Filters > Blur> Motion blur… In the motion blur dialog, select Linear for the type, make the length 20 and the angle 90.


Now, this will only blur in one direction, so it will have the effect of moving your blurred text upward. Select the move tool (M) and use your arrow keys to move the active layer down until it lines up the way you want. Also, lower the layer opacity to 60%.


Now, bring up one of your smoke images. You can either use your selection tools to select an area of the smoke or just select all and copy and paste the smoke into a new layer in your image. Once you’ve got the layer anchored, set its Mode to Difference.


Now, take a soft fuzzy eraser at low opacity and erase around the edges of the smoke until you can’t see the hard edges of your selection. You might even want to reduce the opacity of the layer a bit.


Now just keep repeating the previous technique with different smoke images until you have something that looks good.


Now, paste in one more smoke layer and set the layer mode to Multiply. Use your eraser to erase some of the layer so you can see the smoke and letters again.


Now, select the text layer that we did not blur earlier. It should be higher in the stack than the blurred layer. Right-click the layer and click “Layer to image size”. This will set the layer boundry to the same size as the rest of the image. Select the Smudge tool (S). Select the Circle Fuzzy (19) brush, Scale 1.00 and rate 50. Using small circular motions, smudge those letters until they look more smokey.


I chose not to do the last part where he did random brush strokes on the page. It seemed very out of place to me, and not everyone is going to have a drawing tablet and pen. However if you want to do that, you can get into the brush dynamics by selecting the paintbrush tool and clicking the plus sign next to Brush Dynamics.

That’s it. I hope you enjoyed the tutorial and maybe learned something new.


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One Response

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  1. Scott said, on November 26, 2009 at 8:47 am

    I totally forgot to save the XCF file this time. Sorry. I’ll try to remember to do that in the future so you can download it.

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