Chrissy's Realistic Fire Photoshop Tutorial

This tutorial will teach you how to make realistic looking flames and fire. You can mix things up and make fireballs and various colored flames. It's useful for those storms of angry villagers bearing torches or a hot fire storm raining from the heavens as described in the Bible! You can even merge the flames into existing images.

Step One:

Start with a pure black background. You'll need to choose black because the color balance is how you change the color of the monochrome flames. If you happen to make your flames on an empty layer, they'll stay monochromatic no matter what you do. This can drive you nuts trying to figure out what you did wrong. So I'm saving you a headache.

Don't worry, you'll be able to remove the black to put your fire into any image you want.

Step Two:

Make sure to keep your work on the same layer with the black background. (Remember, you'll have problems later if you don't!)

Pick any size brush you want, the size and hardness won't make a difference. Then create a squiggle at the bottom of your work area to leave plenty of roomfor your flames.

Step Three:

Use the Smudge Tool and smudge the white line upward and wiggle the tool from side to side a little to give your flames life! The size of the smudge tool is up to you, the larger the size the larger the flames. Experiment with different sizes to get different results.

Step Four:

Now I can say with great joy that this is the best photoshop fire method! All of the other fire tutorials would have you brush in each hue individually. Which my tutorial, you can create flames faster, they look more realistic, and you can make any color flames you want!

Go to, Image > Adjustments > Color Balance, to change the settings for the Shadows, Midtones, and Hightlights. Here you're in control over the color of flames you want. Play with them until you get the color and shade you like best.


Alternative Step Five:

Put your existing image in a layer below the layer with your flames.

If you can't see the layers menu, go to Windows > Layers or press F7 on your keyboard to bring it up.

Select the layer with the flames and drag it above your image if it's not already there.

Right click the layer with your flames and select Blending Options.

In the menu under Blend if: choose Gray. Hold down the ALT key on your keyboard and select the black arrow under This Layer. Holding the ALT key causes the arrow to split. Drag half the arrow to the right until the background around the fire is gone and the flames fit nicely in your image. Move the fire around until it fits where you want it on the layer below.

One more step would be to lower the opacity of the layer; because fire is not completely opaque (but can be if you want it to be).

Model: Matthew Owens
I also have Flame Photoshop brushes you can download! Just use the Color Balance tool to give them the colors you want.

Play around with it!

Here's a fireball raining from the sky and a dark magical "Black Flame".

I created the black flame by using a speckled brush to produce streaks inside the flames. In the Color Balance I pulled the bars toward Magenta and Cyan for Shadows, Midtones, and Highlights.

For the fireball I created a simple one dot of white and streaked it upward to the left with the smudge tool. After I changed the color balance to make the fireball I raised the contrast under Image > Adjustments > Brightness/Contrast.

Have fun and Experiment!