Creating Fire in Photoshop

My cat’s on FIRE!

HELP! My cat’s on FIRE!

This is one of my old fav Photoshop effects. I picked it up at a Photoshop World Conference way back. This is a pretty basic, beginner-level trick.

You’ll notice I have an older version of PS(CS4). I haven’t bothered to upgrade since I use Lightroom mostly for my photography work. I do have PS on my iPad and for now that’s all I need. I know folks who use older versions than mine!

I created a basic square area with the background color set to black. (The stroke is me playing around with a brush, so you don’t need to paint just yet.) You’ll need to unlock the Background layer by double-clicking and a dialog box will appear. Click OK┬áto change to Layer 0.


You’ll have to create a New Layer which will be the top layer. This is where you’ll add Adjustment layers. The 2 Effects you’ll be interested in are: Outer Glow and Inner Glow.

You can see below how adding those two effects has changed my brush stroke. Again make sure to draw what you want to change to fire on that new layer (Layer 1) and not the background. Unless you want to draw on the Background and you can add the Effects to that layer instead.

For both Effects, you’ll need to:

  1. Increase the Opacity to 100%
  2. Change the Blend Mode to Hard Light.
  3. Change the color to Yellow and Red.
    I did Yellow for the Outer Glow and Red for the Inner Glow.


I decided to open up an image I had on the desktop. It had a white background. You’ll want to select an image with no background or just drop out the background on an image you want to convert to a brush.image7

In the above photo, with the image selected, I chose Define Brush Preset from the Edit menu. I gave a name for it and it now shows in my Brushes.image8

I selected the new brush I created and stamped it onto Layer 1 with the 2 Effects and there it’s on fire.image10

I already had other brushes created. One with my eye and another with my face.image11

You can continue to make adjustments in Levels, Curves etc. and also using the Smudge tool to flick out some flames.


Happy Firemaking!



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