A lot of magic can be created in Photoshop. One of the coolest things you can do with portrait photos is create a smoke dispersion effect that will make your subject look like a wizard apparating out of thin air! This super cool effect is great to experiment with, and only takes a few simple steps to pull off in Photoshop. Check out our step-by-step guide to creating a smoke dispersion effect below.
1. Open the image you wish to edit inside of Photoshop, and then add a blank white Layer beneath that image.
2. Apply a black Layer Mask to the layer containing the image you’re editing.
3. If you don’t already have smoke dispersion brushes in Photoshop, you can download a set of smoke brushes using this link and load them into Photoshop by dragging and dropping them.
4. Select the Brush tool and then hit Brush Options to access your smoke brush set.
5. Once you’ve chosen the brush you want, head back to your Layer Mask to begin painting with it. Make sure the paint color is white so the smoke dispersion brush will reveal the original image.
6. Rotate the shape of your brush and adjust the spacing, or pick different smoke brushes to create different dispersion effects in order to keep your image from looking to repetitive.
7. Once you’re happy with the smoke outline, you can color correct the image to make it look more like smoke. Create a new Layer and select Curves to begin color correcting.
8. Make a shape that looks like an “S” in Curves to increase the contrast. The Blue and Yellow colors are best to create a very mysterious, striking smoke dispersion image.
9. Your image may look a little dark after all that color correction. You can create a new Layer, select Curves and increase the Highlights to lighten it up and make the smoke effects look wispier.
This process will entail a lot of trial and error initially, especially for Steps 5 and 6, in order to create a truly good looking smoke image. However, once you play around with these brushes and get more familiar with them, you can knock out smoke dispersion effects in no time at all!