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Published on Sun, Feb-21-2010 by Dainis

Create Colorful Smoky Text Effect in Photoshop


Here is one really colorful typography effect. To create this effect we will mostly use Photoshop with a bit of help from Illustrator. In this photoshop tutorial you will learn how to create colorful smoky text effect. The process is fun and easy once you get going. So lets get started! This tutorial is created by Daniel Durrans.

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Final Image Preview

colorful typography effect

1.step

First we need to create our base type. This is a rough layout of typographical elements we will trace our final effect onto. It could be anything from a scanned sketch to a 3D render. In this case I created basic 3D text in Illustrator using the extrude & bevel effect (Effect > 3D> Extrude & Bevel). Keep all of your type elements separate so you can rotate and move them independently.

colorful typography effect

colorful typography effect

2.Step

Now create a new RGB document in Photoshop of 1800px x 1300px. Change the color of the background layer to black and copy and paste each 3D character into the document as individual Smart Objects. Take some time to arrange them on screen in a layout you like, lower the opacity of each layer to 75% and then finally group the layers and name your group ‘Template’.

colorful typography effect

3.Step

Now is time to start building the effect. To do this you will need to find an image or photoshop brush containing smoke elements. There are loads of stock images available that could work, as well as brushes so have a look around for something you like. In this case I used a great set of smoke brushes from Falln on Deviant Art. Install the brushes and create a new layer above your ‘Template’ group and name the layer ‘Smoke’.

colorful typography effect

4.Step

Choose a color in the foreground color swatch and select one of the smoke brushes. The color you choose isn’t vital at this stage as you will adjust and colorize the effect later. However to see the effect taking shape I suggest something vibrant such as a firey orange. Lay down a single brush stroke on the new layer at full opacity.

colorful typography effect

5.Step

Transform the brush stroke by selecting ‘Free Transform’ and pulling the side handles outwards, stretching the layer contents. Now apply a layer mask to the ‘Smoke’ layer and select a normal round brush and 0% hardness. Change the foreground color to black and paint into the mask, removing large parts of the ‘Smoke’ layer as shown. You should be left with a thin trail of smoke.

colorful typography effect

6.Step

You can now use the contents of the ‘Smoke’ layer to start mapping the contours of your base type. The most effective way to do this is using a combination of the warp tool and painting more into the layer mask with a soft black brush. Match the edges as much as possible and try to brush away erroneous parts which don’t keep to the contours.

colorful typography effect

7.Step

Repeat steps 4 and 5, you can use a new smoke brush or the same one. Doing this process again, as opposed to using the same smoke trail you have already created, ensures all of the trails are unique and is better for the over all composition. Now map the trail as you did in step 6 using warping and masking. Once you have repeated this step enough times to complete one character, group the layers together and name the group so it corresponds with the letter. Repeat process for all letters.

colorful typography effect

8.Step

You should now have all of your elements in place, this is the perfect time to go back and make any adjustments such as layer masking and extra warping. Check on the composition by hiding the ‘Template’ group. Once you are totally happy with the layout you can move onto the color adjustment stage. Select all layer groups (except for the ‘Template’ group) and duplicate all. Then select the duplicated groups and merge into one layer, name this layer ‘Composite’. You can now hide the original groups; don’t delete however as these contain all of the composite layers which you may still want access too at a later date.

colorful typography effect

9.Step

The process of coloring and adding adjustments is perhaps the most experimental stage, as different adjustments can affect the image very differently. Make your own adjustments and experiment as much as you want until you get an effect you like. Here are the various adjustments I applied.

Add layer effects to ‘Composite’ layer: Outer Glow: White, Opacity (5%), Size 250px) Gradient Overlay: Linear Gradient Blue (R:40 G169 B:251) to White. 90deg

colorful typography effect

colorful typography effect

10.Step

Ctrl/Cmd click on the layer thumbnail for the ‘Composite’ layer to load a selection and create a new layer above the ‘Composite’ layer. Set the foreground color to blue (R:40 G169 B:251) and fill the selection with the foreground color. Name this layer ‘Blue’ and set the blending mode to Soft Light.

colorful typography effect

11.Step

Create a new gradient map adjustment layer above the ‘Blue’ layer and set a linear gradient going from black to blue (R:40 G169 B:251). Using a soft black brush paint into the adjustment layer’s mask to bring out highlights in selected areas. Vary the opacity using the number buttons on the keyboard as you paint for the best effect.

colorful typography effect

12.Step

To start adding colors to the composition, create a new Hue/Saturation adjustment layer and change hue to +116. Fill the adjustment layer mask with black and use a soft white brush to add colour selectively to the image. As before, vary opacity as you brush for the best effect.

colorful typography effect

13.Step

Add a color balance adjustment layer and change the sliders to red +64, magenta -66 and yellow -62. Change layer blending mode to soft light and opacity to 35%.

colorful typography effect

14.Step

Add a levels adjustment layer and change white point slider to 99. Repeat layer mask brushing as per step 12.

colorful typography effect

15.Step

Add a second levels adjustment layer and change white point slider to 210, and gamma to 1.30. Fill adjustment layer mask with white and use a soft black brush to selectively darken parts of the image.

colorful typography effect

16.Step

Add another levels adjustment layer and move the white point slider to 218, and gamma to 1.05. Change layer blending mode to Overlay and opacity to 17%.

colorful typography effect

17.Step

Add another levels adjustment layer and move the gamma to 0.86. Change layer blending mode to Soft Light and opacity to 43%.

colorful typography effect

18.Step

Add a hue/saturation adjustment layer and change saturation to -26. Change layer blending mode to saturation.

colorful typography effect

19.Step

Add yet another levels adjustment layer and change the white point slider to 207 and the gamma to 1.16.

colorful typography effect

20.Step

Add a hue/saturation adjustment layer and change hue to -10 and saturation to -6. Change layer blending mode to overlay and opacity to 31%.

colorful typography effect

21.Step

Add a gradient map adjustment layer and set the gradient as shown. The color stops from left to right are: R:0 G:0 B:0 (location 0%); R:255 G:102 B:0 (location 43%); R:255 G:198 B:0 (location 82%); R:255 G:234 B:0 (location 100%). Change layer blending mode to soft light and opacity to 33%.

colorful typography effect

colorful typography effect

22.Step

Add a hue/saturation adjustment layer and set the hue to -69. Fill the layer mask with black and paint with a soft white brush with varying opacities to ad some green hues to the the image.

colorful typography effect

And that’s it!

Result: Colorful typography effect

colorful typography effect

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