Learn to apply the Warp Tool effectively and a few other tricks to make smoke look like a skull. This technique has a variety of outcomes and works well with water, clouds and a whole bunch of other stuff. This is probably more for intermediate users, as I guide you through the process well, but not every Warp Grid point handle move. Let’s get started!
Final Image Preview
Video TutorialOur video editor Gavin Steele has created this video tutorial to compliment this text + image tutorial.
Step 1Open up Smoker image. It should look like this. That’s me in the photo so please keep the abuse down to a minimum. I’ll refer to this as the working document from this point on.
Step 2Open the Skull image and draw a path around it using the Pen Tool (set to Paths not Shape Layers). Roughly clone out unwanted elements such as the nuts and bolts using the Clone Stamp Tool (with a soft edged brush).
Make a selection from your Path (Command-click the Path icon on the Paths palette) and copy and paste it into the working document. Flip it horizontally (Edit >Transform > Flip Horizontal) and then use the Free Transform Tool (Command + T) to rotate and resize it. You can flip it during this stage instead by entering -100% into the horizontal scale and then using the corner points to resize. (photoshop updates)
Step 3Open the Smoke 1 image, then clone out the cigarette using the Clone Stamp Tool (with a soft edged brush). Then use the Polygonal Lasso tool to loosely draw a selection around the smoke, taking in some of the background as well. Copy and paste it into the working document and call the layer “CIG_SMOKE.” (photoshop updates)
Change the “CIG_SMOKE” Layer Blending Mode to Screen. You may now see some hard edges around the smoke, this is caused by the background not being true black, so select the Burn tool and burn. Then adjust the levels and finally Resize and rotate using the Free Transform Tool. See screenshots for the settings if you need them.
Step 5Next we’re going to treat the skull. Adjust the Levels (Image > Adjustments > Levels) as shown. Then select the Clone Stamp Tool (with a soft edged brush) and clone out the area of shadow in the eye-socket to the right-hand side. (photoshop updates)
Don’t worry about being too accurate, it should take you a minute. Then desaturate the Skull (Image > Adjustments > Desaturate) and apply a Glowing Edges filter (Filter > Stylize > Glowing Edges) as shown.