Create a Realistic Volcano Eruption Scene with Lava Effect in Photoshop

In this tutorial, I will show you the steps I took to transform an ordinary mountain image into a realistic volcano eruption scene with lava effect in Photoshop.

The techniques I used in this tutorial include various image adjustment tools, a number of filters, layer blending options and some basic selection skills. This is a very simple tutorial with just 4 steps, however you will be amazed with the end result. Have a try :)

Here is a before and after preview:


After (click to enlarge)

Ok let’s get started!

Step 1

Download a copy of this image and load it into Photoshop. This image is of my own stock and you can use it for any purpose.

Firstly we can make the image a bit darker. To do this, duplicate the background layer once. On the duplicated layer hit Ctrl + M to bring up the Curves Adjustment Tool, apply the following settings:

Then hit Ctrl + L and bring up the Levels Adjustments Tool, apply the following settings:

Change the layer blending mode of this duplicated layer to “Multiply”. Duplicate this layer a few times, by doing so it will further darken the image.

The effect so far will look like this:

Merge the duplicated layer together once you’re satisfy with the result. Name the merged layer as “Darken Colour” and keep its layer blending mode as “Multiply”.

Step 2

Duplicate the “Darken Colour” layer once and name the duplicated layer as “colour overlay”, then go to Image > Adjustment > Channel Mixer and apply the following settings:

Then go to Image > Adjustment > Color Balance and apply the following settings:



Then hit Ctrl + M and apply the following Curves Adjustments:

After applying those image adjustments, change the layer blending options to “Color” and you should have the following effect:

Step 3

Create a new layer called “Lava” and use the Lasso Tool with a 40px feather to draw a selection as shown below:

Then go to Filter > Render > Cloud and render some cloud inside the selection: (Make sure you set black as background colour and white as foreground colour)

Then go to Filter > Render > Difference Cloud and apply this filter 4-5 times: (Please note your cloud effect would be slightly different from mine)

The use the Levels Adjustment Tool and apply settings similar to the following ones:

Then apply the following Colour Balance Settings:



To add a bit more fluid effect onto the lava, we can go to Filter > Artistic > Plastic Wrap and apply the following settings:

Change the layer blending mode of this “Lava” layer to “Screen” and you should have the following effect:

Step 4

Download a copy of this fire image (image 3) and load it into Photoshop. Press Ctrl + A to select the whole image, copy and paste the selection to our document.

Name this layer as “Explosion” and put it below the “Lava” layer.

Use the Eraser Tool to get rid of the edges and leave the burning fire bits, resize the layer by hitting the Ctrl + T free transformation Tool and move it on top of the mountain.

See Below screenshot for detailed fire position:

Duplicate the “Explosion” Layer a couple of times, resize and rotate the duplicated layers so to make some dynamic explosion effect: (Use the Levels or Curves Tool where necessary)

Here is the effect so far:

Ok that’s it for this tutorial! Although it’s a short one, I hope you find it useful and inspirational!

Below is my final image result: (Click to enlarge)

As usual If you have any questions, just drop me a comment :)

Cheers and have a nice day!

Categories: Photo Effect

Tags: ,,,,,

  • Matt

    What a spectacular tutorial. You’re a great talent. Thank you for sharing.

  • anime-ghost

    wow, this is cool and sure i put a
    copy of this lesson on my site here

  • @matt: no problem mate!

  • psaddict
  • Hey this is cool. Unique and original.
    Thanks for sharing :D

  • Calvin

    Great Tut!

  • zafra

    Man i have to say that your blog really rock!

  • Awesome tutorial as expected! Your work is really something to look forward to, very informative and fun! Thanks for sharing this!

  • i thought the lava was another image.. hahaha! good job man!

  • photo retouching

    Great Lava result. Thanks for sharing another quality tut.

  • seb

    can’t get the fire image….

  • mquick11

    This was very fun and easy. I taught it to my class and everyone loved it. Thank You for putting it on here.

  • James Qu

    @mquick11: no problem, I’m glad everyone enjoyed it :)

  • I’ve been looking for something like this, I’m very glad you made one. Now all I have to do is try to recreate it. Great job, thanks for this post.

  • Sebastian

    Do you have a link to the fire (explosion) image that doesn’t lead to a rick-roll video on youtube? Thanks.

  • Ryuzaki

    I got rickrolled….. -_-

  • Hendrik

    Is this some kind of a joke, this doesn’t even look like a volcano…

  • That’s amazing, I’ve been looking for a decent tut on adding a lava effect onto objects and this did the trick! Thank you!