Archive for the ‘smoke’ Category

How to Create a Cool Animated Mist Effect in Photoshop CS5

May 23rd, 2011 2 comments
Animated Gifs

Animated Gifs

I love these animated gifs and wanted to try something like that myself. I did a photoshoot a couple of months ago and used a fog machine to create a misty background. It would be cool to show the mist swirling around in a short animated gif. The original photo had some mist, but I wanted to add some more in Photoshop and then animate it.



Original Photo


Fog Animation

Fog Animation Effect

Photoshop CS5

Level of difficulty: Intermediate. You should be familiar with working with layers, resizing images and using the warp tool.

Create the mist layers:

(Click on the screen shots to zoom)

    • Create a blank layer above the edited/retouched photo
    • Paint some mist on the blank layer & name the layer Mist 1. I used these mist brushes by SpiritSighs.
Mist Brushes

Mist Brushes

    • Copy the layer, name it Mist 2 and warp it using Edit => Transform => Warp. You can warp the mist to make it look like it has drifted around.
    • Copy the warped layer and repeat with another warp (Mist 3).
    • Copy the above layer and warp it again (Mist 4). You will now have the original image plus four mist layers above it. Click on Fig. 1 to expand.
Mist Layers

Fig. 1 Layer palette with mist layers

Create the Animation Frames:

    • Select the 5 layers and open the animation window (Window => animation – Fig. 2). Make sure you are in frame view (Fig. 3).

Fig. 2 Opening the Animation Window

Fig. 3 Animation window in frame view

  • Click on the frame and duplicate it by dragging it to the new frame icon. Repeat this four times to give a total of 5 frames (Fig. 4 & 5).
Duplicating the frame

Fig. 4 Duplicating the frame

Duplicating the frame

Fig. 5 Duplicating the frame

  • Click on the first frame. Go to the layers panel and make only the base layer (retouch) visible (Fig. 6).
Layer visiblity

Fig. 6 Click on the eye to hide, click again to reveal layer

  • Click on the second frame and make the retouch layer on the Mist 1 layer visible using the layers panel
  • Click on the third frame and make the base layer & the Mist 2 layer visible.
  • Click on the fourth frame and make the base layer & the Mist 3 layer visible
  • Click on the fifth frame & make the base layer & the Mist 4 layer visible
  • Select all 5 frames by clicking on the first and Shift-Clicking on the last one.
  • Change the frame delay time to 0.1 (Fig. 7) You can try different timings depending on what works best for your project.
Change frame delay

Fig. 7 Change frame delay

Tween the animation to make it run more smoothly

  • Click on the first frame and Shift-click on the second frame
  • Go to the animation menu and choose Tween… (Fig. 8)
Animation Menu

Fig. 8 Animation Menu

  • Enter 10 in the “frames to add box” and select all layers, and position & opacity (Fig. 9)
Fig 9 Tween Dialog Box

Fig. 9 Tween Dialog Box

  • Select frames 12 & 13 and repeat the Tween for these two frames. Repeat this for frames 23 & 24 and 34 & 35 (See Fig. 10)
Tweening Frames

Fig. 10 Tweening Frames

  • Duplicate the last frame (45) and move it to the front
  • Tween the first and second frames as before. This makes the animation smoothly cycle back to the beginning.
  • Make sure the repeat mode is “Forever”
  • Save everything!

Check it out – when you press the play button you will have a pretty smooth animation!

Save the animated gif

  • Resize the image to the size that you want (I used a height of 375 pixels because it gave me a file size under 2 MB). Go to Image => Image Size and select the size that you want, making sure to lock the aspect ratio.
  • Go to File => Save for Web & Devices.
  • Set to “forever”
  • Select Gif and Save (Fig. 11)
Fig. 11 Saving the GIF

Fig. 11 Saving the GIF

To view the animated gif, open it with your browser.

I’m looking forward to doing some more of these animations and have lots of ideas for future shoots! If you have tried it, please share by posting a link in the comments section.

Cool Background Ideas – Light Painting & Smoke!

March 29th, 2011 2 comments
Pink Potion

1. Pink Potion & Smoke - Exposure 2.5 sec, f/9.0, ISO 100

Here are the resuts of some quick test shots using black lights, smoke and light painting.

The subject was a vintage glass bottle with a ground glass stopper. I noticed a lot of these in the shop of Yusuf the chemist in Mombasa in the movie Inception! As a chemist, I’m always interested in vintage laboratory and apothecary items.

I made the pink fluorescent liquid by soaking the felt insert from a pink highlighter pen in some water. It worked really well! Here’s more information about how to make liquids that glow under black light.

For the black light source, I used a UV Cannon and a 12″ UV fluorescent tube.

I generated the smoke using a stick of incense. To light up the smoke, I used a Paul C. Buff  X800 White Lightning strobe with a pink gel, and a 10º honeycomb grid and barndoors to prevent light spill on the bottle. The background was a black nylon fabric. The bottle was placed on a piece of white foam core.

I’ve used smoke quite often as an interesting background – it works best with a dark background and backlighting. In this case, I had the light to the right of the camera and behind the bottle, out of frame. For people, I have a fog machine that gives great smoke effects on a larger scale.

To get the above shot, 1. Pink Potion & Smoke, I set the camera on a tripod and used second curtain sync (slow sync) and a 2.5 sec exposure and CyberSyncs to trigger the flash. I was below the table with the smoking incense, using a remote control to trigger the camera.

Pink potion & nebula

2. Pink Potion & Nebula - Exposure 71 sec, f/9.0, 100 ISO

For the next shot, 2. Pink Potion & Nebula, I used painting with light to create a nebula-like effect. For the the background, I used white seamless paper with a black nylon fabric covering it. With the black fabric in place, and the camera set to bulb, I started with a couple seconds of blacklight, then shut them off. While the shutter was still open and the studio in darkness, I removed the fabric to reveal the white seamless paper, I painted it with a Maglite flash light, with a blue gel over it some cool the light a bit, then closed the shutter with the remote. It took a few tries to get a background that I liked!

Pink Potion & Abstract

3. Pink Potion & Abstract - Exposure 48 sec, f/9.0, ISO 100

The third shot was done in a similar way as the second, except that I also used an LED flashlight and did not use the blue gel on the Maglite. The LED flashlight actually has three separate beams so it created trails in groups of 3, making an interesting abstract design.

If you are in need of a unique background in your still life or product photography, you might want to give these a try. If you have some similar examples, please share links to them in the comment section!