How to add colour smoke on Photoshop (Skull Edits)

These are my results having edited the images from my Skull Photo Shoot. I used Photoshop to create one photograph with the appearance that plain smoke is being exhaled and another with rainbow coloured smoke. I also altered a third image by adding blue smoke in addition to enhancing the eyes to make them look more striking.


The steps which I completed to achieve these results were:

  1. Firstly, I downloaded a set of smoke brushes for photoshop. This was the link I used to get these from Brusheezy. I then installed them to Photoshop on my laptop by dragging the download document to the appropriate folder.
  2. Then use the brush in white on a new layer, selecting the desired version of the smoke brush from the drop down menu. Place the smoke on the image where you want it. Screen Shot 2016-01-12 at 17.32.15
  3. Continue with this process until the desired amount of smoke is reached.Screen Shot 2016-01-12 at 17.38.26.png
  4.  Ensure that any edges are faded out and not straight unnatural looking lines by using more smoke brushes or the eraser. I found that using an eraser in the shape of a smoke brush worked really well for this.Screen Shot 2016-01-12 at 17.39.42.png

In general I am happy with this result and think that these brushes in particular are very authentic looking. The placement that I have chosen for the smoke from the mouth works really well however I think that from the nose it doesn’t necessarily look quite as real.

To further this, I then coloured this smoke. The process by which I did that is as follows:

  1. Create a new layer and use the gradient tool to spread the rainbow colour across the screen while holding shift. Then change that layer’s setting to “colour”.Screen Shot 2016-01-12 at 17.52.11.png
  2. Then, use the eraser on this layer to remove all the colour in the areas that have no smoke.Screen Shot 2016-01-12 at 18.03.39.png


This is obviously less genuine in appearance in regards to looking like actual smoke than the plain coloured version however I think it is interesting looking technique and I like the outcome. The process was fairly time consuming for what it is but I think the erasing has been done to a satisfactory standard yet it could have been more accurate.



This is my final edited photograph. I used the same processes as above to create the smoke and add the colour, although I only used shades of blue this time. I aimed to improve on my previous attempts. I think the smoke here in shape looks better than my first try as it looks as though it is actually leaving the mouth in a streamline and billowing into a small cloud. I have also done a better job of cleaning up the edges so that they’re faded out and not straight. However, I did not spend as much time on erasing the unwanted colour here as I did on the other image so I don’t think this one is as neat as it could be. That being said, due to the size of the image it is not noticeable.

On this photo, I also enhanced the eyes somewhat, brightening them using the dodge tool. This makes them more striking and draws the eye to them. I chose blue smoke to stick with similar, harmonious tones with the eyes as I used a cool blue, so that the colours compliment each other.




Skull Face Paint Shoot

Self Portraiture is an area which I like to explore. I feel that I can really put the ideas in my head into practice when I am taking the pictures of myself. Although there are obvious drawbacks presented, as it is necessary to use either the camera’s timer function, or as I did in this photo shoot, a remote to control the shutter. Due to the wired nature of the remote, this also meant there was a limit to the distance I could be from the camera. However this was not a major issue for this particular shoot as I was using a 50mm prime lens; therefore for a quality image to be produced I would need to be relatively close to the camera (head and shoulder image distance away) anyway.

For these photographs, I painted the half skull image onto my face using face paints, eyeliner and eyeshadows. I then shot the images with a Nikon D5300 and Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 prime lens. I did this in a dark room using one light directly on the face or to the side, with just a black bed sheet as a backdrop. I sometimes like to only use the torch on my iPhone as a light as it is bright yet small so it gives a focused hard lighting. I did this for my Prime Lens Portraits post.

These are a few of my best shots prior to any editing. When I edit them, I am hoping to add some smoke to some of them to add to the dark, edgy feel. I am also considering enhancing the sharpness of the eyes in order to really grab the viewer’s attention.


















Crystal Ball Images

For these photographs, I used a clear crystal ball and had my models hold it so that I could shoot images of them through the object. I did this in order to see the ways in which the image of the person would be distorted in comparison to just taking a picture of their face by itself.

Before taking the photos I didn’t realise that the image would be reflected upside down onto the crystal ball. Although I really liked that this effect was gained; it adds some interest to the image overall.

After several attempts, in differing locations, with alternative models; this was my most successful image.

f/2.2 1/20
I found that this worked best in natural daylight. This was because I could not use any studio lights or camera flashes due to the fact that this would cause a glare on the crystal ball. So I needed to shoot in broad daylight to get the required exposure for the shot.

I experimented with different focal points on the image but found focusing on the image within the crystal ball and leaving the model blurred to be the most pleasing aesthetics. I enhanced this afterwards on Photoshop by selecting the models hands with the crystal ball, and enhancing the contrast so that the eye’s attention will be more strongly drawn towards it.

I also found that an area with a bit of an interesting background helped to improve the photograph as some of it appears on the ball, also this was the best angle that I chose to shoot from. I liked the composition that this angle gave me, as the main interest of the photo is very concentrated on the crystal ball, with the large space of the image being out of focus.

For this shoot I used the Nikon D5300 with a 50.0 mm f/1.8 prime lens.

I think this image was largely successful. To improve I would try to gain a lot more different successful photographs as I think the others that I shot weren’t as good as this one.