Realistic Mist

In this tutorial, we’ll learn how to add a realistic mist to a photo in Photoshop to create a moody atmosphere. The effect is easy to create and requires knowledge about using simple filters and layer masks.

Realistic Mist

To create a realistic mist, you’ll need:

  • A recent version of Photoshop

Step 1

Open your image in Photoshop. I’ll be using this stock image.

Realistic Mist Original

First, let’s desaturate the picture. To do so, click on the Create New Fill or Adjustment Layer option at the bottom of the layers palette, select Black & White from the list that appears, and browse the preset filter options to find one that suits your picture. I used Green Filter here.

Realistic Mist Black & White

Step 2

Duplicate the background layer and name it “blur”. Then, go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur and apply enough blur for your picture.

Realistic Mist Gaussian Blur

After blurring the picture, make the blur layer invisible.

Step 3

Create a new layer, go to Filter > Render > Clouds and set this layer’s blending mode to Screen.

Realistic Mist Clouds

Create a clouds layer three or four times more to create a thick blanket of mist.

Realistic Mist Clouds Layers

Now, select all of the cloud layers and merge them together by going to Layer > Merge Layers. Then, add a layer mask to the merged clouds layer by going to Layer > Layer Mask > From Transparency.

Realistic Mist Layer Mask

We will now thin out the mist in the foreground. To do so, take a large, soft black brush and with the layer mask thumbnail selected, paint over the closest objects in the foreground.

Realistic Mist Layer Mask Paint

Take down the size of the brush and reduce its opacity to about 10%, then continue painting away most of the mist as I have done below.

Realistic Mist Layer Mask Result

Once you have brought the thickness of the mist according to your liking, duplicate the merged clouds layer, right-click on the duplicate layer’s mask thumbnail and select Apply Layer Mask.

Realistic Mist Apply Layer Mask

Go to Image > Adjustments > Invert to invert the layer, then make the layer invisible.

Realistic Mist Invert

Step 4

Now, make your blur layer visible again and add a layer mask to it.

Realistic Mist Blur Layer Mask

With the layer mask selected, go to Image > Apply Image and for the Layer option, select the duplicate merged clouds layer you just hid in the last step.

Realistic Mist Apply Image

Then, invert the layer mask by going to Image > Adjustments > Invert. The blur will now be the thickest where the mist is the thickest.

Realistic Mist Invert Layer Mask

And we’re done! The realistic mist tutorial is complete!

Realistic Mist

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