Transform a Cloud Photo into an Flaming Scene in Photoshop

In this tutorial, I will show you the steps I took to transform a cloud image into an explosion scene in Photoshop. I was having a play with some cloud photos I took the other day and discovered this effect by accident :) This effect is easily achieve through some simple layer blendings and image adjustments. Other techniques include selection tool, various filters and free transformation tools.

In this tutorial, I will show you the steps I took to transform a cloud image into an explosion scene in Photoshop. I was having a play with some cloud photos I took the other day and discovered this effect by accident :)

This effect is easily achieve through some simple layer blendings and image adjustments. Other techniques include selection tool, various filters and free transformation tools.

Here is a preview of my final image for this tutorial:

Ok let’s get started!

Step 1

Create a new document sized 800px * 800px (size doesn’t really matter for this tutorial, you can choose one you feel comfortable with), fill the background with Black colour.

Download a copy of this image (this is my OWN image so don’t worry about copyright, you can use it freely) and load it into Photoshop.

Use the Rectangular Marquee Tool (Press the “M” key) to select a portion of the image as shown below:

Copy and paste the selected portion onto our newly created document, resize and position it in the centre of the canvas:

By pasting the selection, a new layer will automatically be generated on top of the background layer. Name this new layer as “flame”.

Step 2

We will now get rid of the square edges of the “explosion” layer. I found a quick way is to use the Eraser Tool with a big, round, soft brush setting (I used 300px round brush, with 0% hardness), and set both the brush opacity and flow to 100%, gently eraser the edges off.

The result is shown below:

Apply the following the Level Adjustments to this layer: (Please note the setting may be slight different for your image, the purpose is to adjust the colour input of the image to make the effect more realistic)

The result so far will look like this:

Still on the same layer, apply the Curve Tool (Ctrl + M) and use the following settings:

And the image should look similar to this one:

Step 3

We will add various effect onto the flame and make it look more realistic.

Now duplicate the “flame” layer Five Times. Hide the top four duplicated layers for now and just leave the “flame copy” layer visible.

On the “flame Copy” layer, apply the followng Hue and Saturation Image Adjustment Settings:

Change the layer blending option to “Soft Light” and you will have the following image:

Step 4

Un-hide the “flame Copy 2” layer, apply the following Black and White Adjustment to it:

(For those who use CS2 or earlier versions of Photoshop, you may try to the Curve or Level adjustment tool first to alter the colour contrast, then desaturate the layer.)

Change the layer blending mode to “color dodge” and you will have the following result:

Step 5

We can add some particles into the flame so it look a bit more realistic. To do this, un-hide the “flame Copy 3” layer, go to Filter > Artistic > Film Grain and apply the following settings:

Then change the layer blending option to “Overlay” and drop the opacity of 80%. You will have the following image:

Step 6

We can some highlights and softness to the flame. Un-hide the “flame Copy 4” layer, apply the Gaussian Blur filter with the following settings:

Change the blending mode to “Screen” and you will have following effect:

Step 7

Now we can give the flame a bit of motion. Un-hide the “flame Copy 5” layer and apply the following Motion Blur settings:

Use the Move Tool to move this layer slight up a bit and change the layer blending option to “Screen”, drop the opacity to 50%. The result so far will look like this:

Step 8

Now let’s make some explosion effect. Select all layers previously created, hit Ctrl + T to bring up the Free Transformation Tool, distort, perspective, resize the image as shown below:

Here is a zoom-in view:

Step 9

Create a new layer called “Particles”. Use the Lasso Tool with a 20px feather, select some random area outside the explosion:

Fill the selection with Black colour and render some cloud (White as foreground colour, Black as background colour). Then apply the following Level Adjustments:

Change the layer blending option to “Screen” and drop the opacity to around 80%.

Here is the result so far:

Ok that’s it for this tutorial! The rest is left upon your own creativity. Have a play with the layers and change the blending modes, or apply some other filters and see what results they will bring you!

Below is the final image (I added some watercolour painting effect to the image)

Hope you enjoy this tutorial and find it useful and inspirational! If you have any question, just drop me a line and I will try and get back to you asap.

Thank you very much and have a nice day!

  1. Dude, i freaking love you… just what i wanted
    heres my finsihed product
    [IMG]http://i37.tinypic.com/e8wcr7.jpg[/IMG]

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