Q&A: mist and fog
Thomas Brewer, England
Mist has the ability to soften everything in an image, adding a calm, mysterious or magical element. The plumes that rise up with thick smoke have a lot of form and texture, which add excitement and move the viewer’s eyes around. Spend some time looking at photos of each before you start painting anything.
For plumes of smoke, I suggest working with several layers in Photoshop. Adjusting the Opacity of each layer gives you control over its density, and enables you to either emphasise or knock back the texture in a given area. Starting with a rough-edged brush at a low Opacity (around 30), paint in the shape you’d like the smoke to take. You may notice that the edges of smoke can be both soft and complex, with lots of tiny little twists, turns and hard edges. Use the Blender tool to smooth things out, orchestrating the hard and soft edges based on how natural you want it to be. I’d also suggest using a somewhat rough brush, such as number 14 or 39 for the blending.
Smoke, mist and fog can be used to add interest to a previously dull area, and the shape and texture can – and should – be chosen based on your specific needs.