This GIMP (GNU) tutorial demonstrates how to create wispy smoke. To work along you are welcome to download the Start Image I am working with Here. Unzip the file and open the image onto GIMP’s workspace.
You can quickly Undo a step at any time by pressing Ctrl then Z. Alternatively, click a previous Undo History snapshot - Windows then Dockable Dialogues then click Undo History. In addition, to Zoom in (or Zoom out) of your image; from the top menu, choose View then select a Zoom Tool from the subsequent drop-down list.
Ensure the Layers and the Undo History Palettes are visible, and then drag them into position over your workspace - (Windows then Dockable Dialogues - then click Layers and Undo History).
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Launch GIMP & Organise Its Workspace & Palettes
Open your choice of Start Image onto GIMP’s workspace - File then Open - Ctrl then O. (Alternatively, create a New Transparent Document).
Then from the Layers Palette, create a New Transparent Layer above the Background Image, as demonstrated below.
Now, set the Foreground Colour to Mid Grey. (Alternatively, set a Smoke Colour of your choice).
From the Toolbox, activate the Paintbrush Tool.
And enter the following Smoke Brush settings into the Paintbrush Tool’s Options Box.
For personal results, it’s important to experiment with different Brush settings, and discover a look that suits your needs.
Now, working on the Smoke Layer, (and using a sweeping motion), paint a Grey Smoke Line onto the Background Image, or Transparent Image, as demonstrated below.
I applied two paint strokes, one on top of the other.
You can disable the Paintbrush Tool by clicking any other Tool, perhaps the Move Tool.
From the top menu, choose Filters then choose Distorts and then choose IWarp. And from the subsequent IWarp dialogue box, set the Deform Mode to Move, and then gently distort the smoke into a nice a curve - as illustrated below.
(Don’t click OK).
Change the Deform Mode from Move to Swirl ACW (Anticlockwise). Then reduce the Deform radius to around 35.
And gently sweep your cursor over the Grey Smoke Line to break it up, thus creating something that resembles wispy smoke - as demonstrated below.
Then click OK to complete the process.
This technique quickly improves with practise.
You can reform the Grey Smoke Line by changing the Deform Mode to Remove, and passing your cursor over the line to reform it to an earlier state.
If needed, you can always return to the IWarp Tool, and edit your wispy smoke. However bear in mind, once you have clicked OK, if you return - you can only add to the effect. You cannot return the smoke to an earlier state after you have clicked OK.
7/ Optional Blur
From the top menu, choose Filters then choose Blur and then choose Motion Blur. From the subsequent dialogue box, enter the following settings, or experiment, and then click OK.
For personal results, experiment with different Blur and Deform Tools
Layers Palette Note Understand Layers - Understand Blend Modes
You can further effect the smoke by adjusting the Smoke Layers’ Opacity. In addition, to create a deeper smoke effect, you can Duplicate the Smoke Layer.
Move Tool Note
You can reposition the smoke using the Move Tool .
Deform Tool Notes
The smoke can be further deformed using one of GIMP’s Deformation Tools, for example the Scale, Shear and Perspective Tools.
To preserve the Layers, now is a good time to save your work as a XCF File.
Background Fill Layer
If you like, you can Create A Fill Layer, and fill it with either a Pattern, a Solid Colour, or a Gradient of your choice. As fully demonstrated in my Create A Fill Layer Tutorial, Here.
When you are happy with your Wispy Smoke, from the top menu, choose Image then choose Flatten Image.
Congratulations, your work is complete, and it is ready to save.
Wendi E. M. Scarth. Top of Page.