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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Great PS Tutorial Site

Posted in Uncategorized by Scott on October 22, 2007

I just discovered and will be taking a look through their archives for inspiration.

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PS Filters for GIMP

Posted in Uncategorized by Scott on October 18, 2007

Vitor has a great little article on how to use Photoshop filters in the GIMP. I didn’t even know this was possible. Thanks Vitor!


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Inset Text

Posted in Uncategorized by Scott on October 16, 2007

Veerle’s Blog is one of my favorite design blogs. She recently did a Photoshop tutorial on how to create inset text in the new Mac OS X Leopard style. This is a neat effect, and pretty simple to accomplish in The GIMP.

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Convert RGB to Black and White

Posted in Uncategorized by Scott on February 27, 2007

There is no one “right” way to convert color photographs from color to black and white. In fact there are tons of ways to do it, and they all have their advocates. If you want to see some other methods, I’d recommend taking a look at a tutorial at digital Photography School entitled How to Convert Color Digital Images into Black and White Ones, or at another one from entitled Converting Color Images to B&W using the GIMP. Both of these detail several different methods, all with their own merits.

I’ve been researching the subject quite a bit, and I think I’ve settled on a favorite method of my own, and I’m going to detail it for you now. We’ll be using lessons learned in the last couple of posts on luminosity masking, so if you haven’t read those yet, you might want to at least skim them to get the idea.

Anniversary Anniversary Redux


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Luminosity Masking: The Dark Side

Posted in Uncategorized by Scott on February 25, 2007

Okay, last time I showed you how to bring out detail in highlighted areas. Today, I’m going to show you the opposite, bringing detail out of darkened areas. I’m also going to show you a different way of creating this luminosity mask that I think is a little more versatile. If you’d like to see the Photoshop way of doing things, the tutorial I’m adapting is from and is called The Shadowy Face of the Luminosity Mask.

Pink Flower Pink Flower Redux


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Luminosity Masking: The Light Side

Posted in Uncategorized by Scott on February 23, 2007

This is part one of a two part series on luminosity masking. The original Photoshop tutorial can be found on and is entitled: Recovering Lost Highlight Detail, by Jim Patterson. Luminosity can be utilized for a great number of color and shade adjustments. Jim covers the basics, which should give you a good idea of the types of things you can do.

virgin_snow Virgin Snow redux


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Basic Photo Retouching

Posted in Uncategorized by Scott on February 17, 2007

Today I’m going to touch on some very simple yet extremely effective things you can do to make any photo look better. This is an adaptation of the Photo Edit 101 tutorial done by user Dallas_TX.

You can use these basic guidelines to enhance just about any photo. In the future, I’ll use this post as a reference on what to do before starting whatever it is I’ll be writing about that day. So, anyway, let’s get started. Pick an image you want to enhance and open it up. I’ll be using another CC licensed image originally posted by flickr user Munzerr.

Castle BeforeCastle Final


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Fake Tilt-shift

Posted in Uncategorized by Scott on February 15, 2007

Note: there are several updates to this entry at the bottom.

Today’s tutorial is an adaptation of Christopher Phin’s Fake Model Photography tutorial for Photoshop CS, and it’s all about faking tilt-shift photography.

Technicolor View redux


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Orton Effect

Posted in Uncategorized by Scott on February 13, 2007

For today’s adaptation, I’m not going to single out any one particular tutorial because there are many good ones, and they’re all a bit different. If you want the Photoshop method, I advise you to do what I did, and google it.

Foxglove Foxglove redux

So, here we go.


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