How to Add Smoke, Mist and Clouds in Photoshop No add-ons or plug-ins necessary

In this video tutorial photographer, Glyn Dewis shows how you can add smoke, mist, and clouds in Photoshop in a few simple clicks and without any extra plug-ins.

How to add Smoke/Mist in Photoshop

To add some smoke or mist to an image add a new blank layer and then go to filter>render>clouds. Mark a square with your rectangular marquee tool and press ctrl+J to add that area as a new layer. You don’t need the clouds layer so you can delete it.

Press CTRL T and increase the size of the square. You might want the smoke to be brighter so change the levels of the layer (you can make the whites whiter and the blacks darker and change the mid-tones to get the look that you want).

Now you can lower the opacity of this new layer or use the screen blend mode and reduce the opacity. Next, you might want to create a layer mask and use a 20% black brush and paint over the areas where you don’t want the smoke to be.

Adding Clouds with Blend IF in Photoshop

Photoshop now has very powerful AI tools for adding clouds but this method Dewis is showing here is pretty different and might work where the automatic methods don’t do a good enough job.

The basics are the same – go the filter>render>clouds on a new layer and choose a small square and increase the size of this layer (and brighten the layer).

What is different in this version is that you can crop just the area of the clouds that you will be using and double click on the clouds layer and go to the blending options “blend if” section. This will create more realistic-looking clouds.

Finally – if you need to change the perspective of the clouds (depending on where this image was taken in relation to the clouds) you might want to go to edit>transform>perspective. Pulling or pushing the corners of the layer will change the perspective of the clouds and make them look as if they are moving towards or away from the camera.

You will be manipulating only the section called “this layer” and move the darker part and that will leave only the brighter parts and you will need to press the Alt to separate the two parts of the marker.

This is not the first time that we have been looking at this topic. Colin Smith from PhotoshopCAFE demonstrated how to add some clouds to a boring blue skies images in a realistic way in Photoshop (something that is now fairly easy with the new AI tools),  and Aaron Nace from Phlearn did his own take on the same subject.

You can find many more Photoshop video tutorials on LensVid’s Photoshop section. You can also find more of Dewis’ videos on LensVid on this link.

Iddo Genuth
Iddo Genuth is the founder and chief editor of He has been a technology reporter working for international publications since the late 1990's and covering photography since 2009. Iddo is also a co-founder of a production company specializing in commercial food and product visual content.

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