Step by step how to create mist in Photoshop, 10-18
10 Add a graduated mask
Go to Filter>Convert for Smart Filters, then to Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur. Set Radius to 45px and hit OK. Click on the Smart Filter mask thumbnail, then grab the Gradient tool. Hit D then X to set colour to black. Hold Shift and drag a line from bottom to top.
11 Mimic the perspective
Click on the top layer, then go to Edit>Transform> Distort. Hit Cmd/Ctrl and the – key a few times to zoom out, then drag the bottom right and left corners outwards and the top right and left corners downwards until they meet the skyline. Hit Enter to apply.
12 Paint a mask
Hold Alt and click Add Layer Mask to add a full mask that hides the clouds. Grab the Brush tool, choose a soft-edged circular brush tip and set the brush opacity to 20%. Set the foreground colour to white, then paint over the water to reveal the mist.
13 Copy and transform
Hit Cmd/Ctrl+J to make a duplicate layer, then right-click the Layer Mask (not the Smart Filter mask) and choose Delete Layer Mask. Hit Cmd/Ctrl+T, then drag the bottom middle points upwards. Hit Enter, then click Add Layer Mask to add a new empty mask.
14 Mask the mist
Grab the Gradient tool, go to the options at the top and choose Reflected Gradient. Select Foreground to Background and hit D to set the colour to white. Drag a short line down from the water line so only a thin strip is visible. Set the layer Opacity to 75%.
15 Make another copy
Hit Cmd/Ctrl+J. Delete the Layer Mask and transform it to make it thinner. Add a reflected gradient on a Layer Mask to make a smaller strip. Set Opacity to 45%. On a new Swirls layer, grab the Brush tool set to white with an Opacity of 20% and Flow of 35%.
16 Paint random mist
In the Brush Preset Picker, select Spatter 14 (if you can’t see it, go to Reset Brushes). Go to Window>Brush>Brush Tip Shape. Set Size to 300px and Spacing to 50%. Click Shape Dynamics and set Angle Jitter to 100%. Paint to add mist on the water line.
17 Use the Smudge tool
Grab the Smudge tool, then go to the options bar and set Strength to 50%. Make sure both Finger Painting and Sample All Layers are unchecked, then use the tool to smudge the white brush strokes into swirls of mist that rise up from the lake.
18 Final tonal tweaks
Ensure the top layer is highlighted, then add a Curves Adjustment Layer. Make a shallow S-shaped curve by dragging one point upwards, and a second downwards to boost contrast slightly. Make any other tonal tweaks with further Adjustment Layers.
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