Wednesday, August 21, 2019

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Create a Mystical Text Effect with Smoke and Ocean Texture in Photoshop

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In this tutorial, I will show you the steps I took to create a Mystical Text Effect with Smoke and Ocean Texture in Photoshop. This is an intermediate level tutorial so some steps can be a little tricky, but why not have a try!

Here is a preview of the final effect for this tutorial: (click to enlarge)

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OK let’s get started!

To complete this tutorial, you will need the following stocks:


Ocean image

Smoke Brush

Step 1

Create a new document sized 1200px * 770px, fill the background with black colour. Load the “ocean” stock image into Photoshop, cut out the top wave portion of it and paste it onto our document. Name this layer as “ocean”:

Use a big soft brush to erase the top portion of the ocean as shown below:

Step 2

I decided to make this ocean texture look surreal. So let’s add the following three adjustment layers to it:



Mask on the Levels adjustment layer:

Color balance

and here is the effect you will have so far:

Step 3

Grab the type tool, use the font we downloaded, type one letter per layer, as shown below:

Then use the free transform tool to rotate the text a bit for some variety:

Rotate each of the text as shown below:

Then create a new layer under all the text layers, render some cloud on it:

Use a big soft eraser to erase some portion of the cloud to create more depth for the image:

Step 4

Now we can merge the text layer so it’e easier to edit them all together. To do this, select all the text layers, then right-click and choose “rasterize type”:

then right-click on the layers and choose “Merge Layers”:

After merging the layers, load the selection of this merged layer by Ctrl + left-click on the thumbnail image on the layer palette:

Use the smoke brush you downloaded, paint inside the selection:

Use a soft eraser to erase the parts shown below on the texture, so the text blends into the surrounding environment:

Optional: to make the text darker a bit, you can duplicate the smoke texture layer once and change layer blending mode of the duplicated layer to “color burn”:

Step 5

Now we can add some bursting lights on the text. To do this, load the selection of the original merged text layer again, create a new layer on top of all previous layers, and fill the selection with white. Name this layer as “light on text”:

Deselect, then apply the following Gaussian Blur settings to this layer:

then apply the radial blur settings on the text. Hit Ctrl + F to apply it a few more times:

change the layer blending mode to “overlay”, duplicate this light on text layer twice, and here is the effect you will have on the text:

Step 6

Now let’s do some fine-tunings for this effect. Add the following 2 image adjustment layers on top of all previous layers:

Color balance

Mask on the colour balance adjustment layer:


Mask on the curves adjustment layer:

and here is the effect so far:

Step 7

Now let’s add some final details to the text effect. I created a new layer called “text highlight” and use a soft white brush to paint on the area shown below: (set the layer blending mode to “overlay” with 70 opacity)

Add some noise around the text to create some splashing effect. You can do so via the noise filter, or some splatter brushsets:

You can also duplicate the radial blur layer we created earlier for the text once, drag this layer to the top and flip it vertically, change the layer blending mode to “soft light”.

Here is the effect you will have:

I also added a black and white adjustment layer on top of all layers with the following settings:

Layer mask on the black and white adjustment layer:

Reduce the layer opacity of this black and white adjustment layer to around 50%, and here is the final effect: (click to enlarge)

(I also added some cloud texture onto it – you’re free to experiment with other texture, filter effect, and see what result they bring you.)

That’s it for this tutorial! Hope you enjoy it and find it interesting and inspirational. Until next time, have a nice day!

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  • GKL

    Great tutorial, thanks for sharing!

  • Dude

    first thx for the sharing
    but does this work on CS5 ??
    i tried it but i did not get the result of the water image :(

  • Childmonster

    I very like the light effect.. but the text may be not good

  • JUAN

    very very nice work

  • Earth Line St.
    Earth Line St.

    I’m having trouble on the “Mask on the Levels adjustment layer” part in step 2, I’m not quite sure how to do this, any help would be great, thanks.

  • Ross Anderson
    Ross Anderson

    What would be nice is a reply to questions asked about the layer masks. I’m new to photoshop and seeing only an image isn’t good enough. How do you create the layer masks??

  • Edward

    to create a layer mask:
    choose the layer then click on the box shaped with a circle in the middle (right hand side at the bottom of the layer palette beside the “fx” icon) after that you should see another square beside the layer then just use the brush tool (with black as a foreground) on the image or whatever

  • Jhoni

    Missing some explanations …Purposeful?

  • James Qu
    James Qu

    @Jhoni: I don’t think there is a need to go into details to each and every step. After all this is a intermediate level tutorial.

  • Jhoni

    Ok!! I’m a noob! I tried but when I got in step 6 all layers changed the color … I could not let some details of white clouds for example. Anyway … I still learn! Congratulations for your site is great!

  • darrel

    for step two i wanted to know if there was anything in depth to show how to accomplish this goal. I am honestly stomped, ive tried adding a mask, results are totally different. ive tried linking a levels adjustment layer and adding a mask to that… litterally nothing happens at all. i want to move on to other tutorials but i cant leave a tutorial alone when its something i really want to learn.

  • sourabh raghuwanshi
    sourabh raghuwanshi

    I very like the light effect.. but the text may be not good
    nice work

  • jeevan mandloi
    jeevan mandloi

    Ok!! I’m a noob! I tried but when I got in step 6 all layers changed the color … I could not let some details of white clouds for example. Anyway … I still learn! Congratulations for your site is great!

  • Ali

    nice text effects

  • nathan

    hey i was wondering if this works on cs5…. maybe im just confused on using masks…ok so i get to step 2 and im dong really good. i got a bit confused on the “mask level adjustment layer” thing. how do you mask exactly… in cs5 help it gives different instructions but am i supposed to “hide” layer or “show” layer? i mean i get the top of the waves to brighten and all but once i finish the color balances its not the same darkness and color on the lower water…. online it shows the water turns out to be dark but mine is still dark orange…. PLEASE HELP!!!!

  • Boris

    omg this is way to hard

  • Piptoo_2020

    very goooooooooooood tut .. like it . thanx alot 

  • Matthew

    Damn can’t get step 2 right. It’s waaay too red.

  • Brammagefam

    hectic work bro, quite difficult for a beginner too :) turning out to be a nice challenge. Thanks

  • Goarmy08

    Did you get it to work; I am having the same issue…just too damn red!!

  • Icedrackon

    … I’m stumped. For the Level adjustments layer, with the settings that’s shown (output input levels from the screenshot), it makes my water look REALLY blue. Kinda blue-purple-ish. Help?

  • Icedrackon

    I meant Curves adjustment layer. -__-

  • Hvts19

    Exactly what happens to me… Anybody solve this problem?

  • Jneilarcenal

    If your having trouble with the color adjustments of the waves or
    If all you want is the design and not the skills then just do it in shortcut…
    Copy the image in step 3,, after this instruction: Then Create a new layer under all the text layers, and render some clouds under it. ( just right click on the image and click save image as…) 

  • Soundchi

    you are awful at explaining what to do. gah.

  • yuda

    wooow nice tutor

  • wtf?

    Worst tutorial ive probably ever seen. You can’t explain jack shit

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