This smokey look from all the small forest fires as seen in the photo above taken right outside our addition in Florida a couple days ago made me start thinking about how to get this look without actually seeing (and smelling) it. I decided to try several different ways to create a hazy foggy look and see which I method I liked the best. The image below is of the Scottish Highlands (where Hamish the cow can be seen) and is a great example of how the the last tendrils of fog appears once the sun rises. No corrections were done on this image except some power lines were removed using the Healing Brush in the lower right corner.
Here is a link where I downloaded several free stock images on Stock.xchng to see what the fog really looks like for reference.
The most important thing I learned is that decent fog brushes are absolutely essential. So lets begin with that – these two set of fog brushes will give the needed look: Fogs and Mists by ~BBs-Brushes – Brush No. 11 and Brush No. 13 give really nice fog effects, and Tranquility Brushes by ~wyckedBrush – the Sky brush and experiment with several others to see what you like. Here is a nice link to 10 sites which includes the above at 10 Free Fog Brush Sets.
Two fog tutorials, three Photoshop plug-ins and one action tutorial were tried to see which had the best results. My first attempt began with a tutorial called “Create Dramatic Misty Landscapes” in Photoshop Creative Issue No. 72. There is also a very similar tutorial on the Internet called “Realistic Fog and Mist” and has very clear and simple steps to follow so I will not list them here. After trying both tutorials with several image, I just did not like the results, not even well enough to show them here. I could not seem to get a really good flat colored image appearance and I did not like the way the fog was distributed – too heavy and uneven. Hopefully you might get a better result.
Next, I pulled out my arsenal of Photoshop plug-ins: Nik’s Color Efex Pro 3.0, Topaz’s Lens Effects, and a very old filter I had from 10 years ago by the Imaging Factory called Graduated Fog. (Download it for a 30 day trial – not sure if it is still available for sale.) Believe it or not, the Graduated Fog filter did just as well as the other two advanced plug-ins. They all either made the colors too vivid or the fog effect way too heavy or both – very unnatural looking. Below is an example of what I did with The Imaging Factory’s Graduated Fog effect – note the fog color is a yellow (the white appeared too heavy) and not exactly realistic. I added a layer with some light white brush strokes using BB Fogs and Mists Brushes – Sample Brush #11. Still, this image turned out the best of the plug-ins.
There is another stand-alone program that can be downloaded in the demo mode only (meaning you cannot save any results) – it has a fairly large learning curve, but it appears to have a really great interface for this particular look. It would take some effort but a nice effect can probably be obtained with some experimenting – try downloading AutoFx Mystical Lighting and Ambiance 2.0 demo and go to Ambiance, then Haze and Fog effect. I will definitely spend some more time in the demo looking at some of the other effects also.
Then I came upon a recent blog that made me feel much better! This tutorial supplied an action that works very good and is a great starting point. The link is called: “How to Create Fog in Photoshop: Gloomy Photoshop Action Included” by Timkainu. Definitely check this link out and download Tim Kainu’s Sun to Gloom Photoshop Action – the two photos below (of Maui and the Scottish Highlands) used this action and it required just a bit of touch up. He says that the action works great with images taken in harsh sunlight! I think the image below reflects more what I believe a fog would really look like for this image.
The final image is the same as the one above, but done entirely with the brushes linked in this blog. The effect is a little heavier, and it was created by just putting the fog on its own layer (or several different layers) and building up the effect until you like it. A layer mask can be added to get the exact intensity using different brush opacities, blend modes can be changed, and layer opacities adjusted – it was definitely easier than anything else I tried except for the wonderful action. I would suggest giving this a try if the action does not give quite the look you want.
This has definitely been a long week of experimenting. I learned about many things that did not work! I also learned sometimes it is easier to just go with what you do know – the special filters and tricks may not cut it. I hope I have helped guide a few fellow digital artists to find the resources they need and not waste time with what they do not need. Until next time…..Digital Lady Syd