Photoshop Tutorial: Fire Effect

For all you pyro-maniacs, this tutorial shows a technique on creating a blazing inferno of burning text.

Step 1

Create a blank image and fill the background with black. Press X on the keyboard (to flip colors) and then select the Type tool—type whatever you want, press OK.

Make a copy of this layer and hide it (you’ll need a copy later). By default, text layers in Photoshop (since version 5) are dynamic—you can go back any time and change it. For this particular effect to work, we’ll need to make our text “un-dynamic”… er if that’s a word. Simply right-click on your text layer and choose “Rasterize Layer” (or alternately, you can hold the Command (PC: Ctrl) key and click on the text layer to make a selection out of the text, and fill that selection with white on a new layer—make sure to delete the editable text layer afterward if you do this). Note: be sure your text is exactly how you want it first, since you’ll have to start over with another copy of your dynamic text layer if you change your mind.

To center the text on your image, press Cmd+A then Cmd+X then Cmd+V (PC: Ctrl+A then Ctrl+X then Ctrl+V) and then press Cmd+E (PC: Ctrl+E) to merge the text layer into the black background layer. For the “Wind” filter used in the next step, your text must be merged with the background.

Example 1

Step 2

Next, use Filter » Stylize » Wind with the settings “Wind” and “from the left”. Press Cmd+F (PC: Ctrl+F) to apply the same filter over again a second time. Now use another Filter » Stylize » Wind, but this time with the settings “Wind” and “from the right”. Press Cmd+F (PC: Ctrl+F) to re-apply, just like before.

Example 2

Step 3

The next step is to repeat the same process we applied to the sides, but this time to the top and bottom. Since there isn’t a “top or bottom” option in the wind dialog box, we will turn the image itself around. Use Image » Rotate Canvas » 90 CCW. Apply the wind just like before, two on the left and two on the right. When you have completed this task, use Image » Rotate Canvas » 90 CW in order to straighten your work up.

Example 3

Step 4

Apply Filter » Blur » Gaussian Blur with a value of 2, then Filter » Distort » Ripple with the default values.

Step 5

Convert the image to Grayscale by using Image » Mode » Grayscale and then to Image » Mode » Indexed Color. The next step is to give our image some color, so choose Image » Mode » Color Table. Since we’re shooting for a “fire effect” choose the Black Body table.

Example 4

Step 6

Well our text is now engulfed in a fiery furnace of sheer… hottness… but all that heat does make it a tiny bit difficult to read. Remember how I told you to make a copy of your original text layer back in Step 1? Un-hide that layer now and drag it to the top position in your Layer Palette. And now you have a solar eclipse—or at least legible text, and that’s almost as good!

Example 5

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