This tutorial will show you how to use Photoshop’s work paths, brush settings, and layer styles to create a quick Alice in Wonderland shisha smoke text effect. Let’s get started!
The following assets were used during the production of this tutorial:
1. How to Create the Background and Text Layers
Create a new 850 x 850px document. Click the Create new fill or adjustment layer icon at the bottom of the Layers panel, choose Solid Color, and use the Color
Create the text, each letter in a separate layer, using the font Multicolore, and change the Size to 200 pt.
Place each letter’s text layer in a group with the letter’s name.
2. How to Create and Save Work Paths
Pick the Pen Tool and choose the Path option in the Options bar, and create a work path inside each of the letters you have.
Click once to add corner points, click-drag to add smooth curve points, and Command-click outside the path once you finish it.
You can use the Direct Selection Tool (A) to select and adjust any anchor point as well as its direction points and handles if needed.
In order to save a work path and reuse it, open the Paths panel, and double-click the Work Path tab to enter a name for the path you want to save.
Name the path Center and hit OK.
Click the Create new path icon at the bottom of the Paths panel to add a new path tab.
Use the Ellipse Tool with the Path option to create a couple of ring shapes around the letters you have, and save the new path tab with the name Rings.
3. How to Modify and Save a Brush Tip
Pick the Brush Tool and open the Brush Settings panel.
Choose the Soft Round tip, check the Build-up and Smoothing boxes, and use these settings:
Brush Tip Shape
Texture (Use the Clouds pattern).
Click the Create new brush icon in the bottom right corner of the panel to save the modified brush tip, and name it Smoke.
4. How to Stroke a Work Path
Select the Center tab in the Paths panel, pick the Path Selection Tool, and click on the first letter’s work path to select it.
Hide the text layer, and create a new layer on top of it with the letter’s name.
Set the Foreground Color to any color you’d like to stroke the path with. The color used here is
It is important to save the colors you use as you’ll need them later on.
Pick the Brush Tool (B), and hit the Return key to stroke the selected work path.
5. How to Create a Simple Smoke Style
Double-click the stroked path layer’s group to apply the following layer style:
Add an Inner Shadow with these settings:
- Opacity: 35%
- Distance: 0
- Size: 7
Add an Inner Glow with these settings:
- Opacity: 75%
- Source: Center
- Size: 16
Add a Satin effect with these settings:
- Blend Mode: Multiply
- Opacity: 50%
- Angle: 20
- Distance: 194
- Size: 183
- Contour: Rounded Steps
- Check the Invert box
Add an Outer Glow with these settings:
- Opacity: 53%
- Size: 25
- Range: 100%
The Color here should correspond to the one you chose for the original brush tip color, so you should choose a different one if you are using other brush tip colors.
Right-click the styled group, and choose Copy Layer Style. Then select the rest of the groups you have, right-click any of them, and choose Paste Layer Style.
Repeat the same steps to stroke the rest of the work paths you have.
After that, for each group, double-click it to adjust the Outer Glow effect’s Color to one that matches the brush tip color used for the letter in the group.
The other brush colors used here are
6. How to Warp Objects
Select the stroked letter’s layer, press Command-T to enter Free Transform Mode, and click the Warp icon in the Options bar.
Click-drag the small sections to warp the letter and get a more dynamic effect, and hit the Return key to commit the changes.
Repeat that for the rest of the letters.
7. How to Add Smoke
Next, use the Real Smoke and Smoke Out Brush Set tips to add smoke to the letters you created.
Add the smoke on as many new layers as needed, and use the same color as the letter you’re adding the smoke to.
Use different brush tips with very small tip sizes to get the best results.
If you feel the brushes are too sharp, you can go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur, and use a Radius value you like to soften the tips a little bit.
Create a new layer on top of the Solid Color layer, name it BG Smoke, and use some large smoke brushes to add colored smoke around the text.
Right-click the BG Smoke layer and choose Convert to Smart Object.
Blur the smoke quite a lot, and reduce its layer’s Opacity to around 30%.
8. How to Make Final Adjustments
Add the Noisy Black Texture 4 image on top of the BG Smoke layer, resize it as needed, and change its layer’s Blend Mode to Color Dodge and its Opacity to 50%.
Add the Snow Texture VI 5184 x 3456 Pixels image on top of all layers, resize it as needed, and change its layer’s Blend Mode to Screen and its Opacity to 10%.
Go to Filter > Pixelate > Mezzotint, and change the Type to Long Strokes.
Add a Vibrance adjustment layer on top of all layers, and change the Vibrance value to -5.
Add a Color Lookup adjustment layer on top of all layers, choose the 3Strip.look table from the 3DLUT File menu, and change the layer’s Opacity to 35%.
Congratulations, You’re Done!
In this tutorial, we created a simple background and a couple of grouped text layers for the text letters we have.
Then, we created work paths for the letters, modified a simple brush tip, and stroked the work paths to create the main smoke effect.
After that, we styled the letters to enhance the smoke effect, warped them to get a more dynamic result, and added more smoke brushes for a more detailed outcome.
Finally, we added some textures and global adjustment layers to finish off the effect.
Please feel free to leave your comments, suggestions, and outcomes below.