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How to Make Flames in Photoshop

Published: 23/03/2021

Perhaps you've seen tutorials about putting flames on text, yet you're still having trouble making a fireplace look convincing. This is why we're giving you several editing options to find the best way on how to make flames or fire in Photoshop and achieve more realistic real estate photos.

How to Make Flames in Photoshop

The first way to edit flames in Adobe Photoshop is to use flame brushes and patterns. Another option is to optimize the Render Flames tool or the Flame Generator filter so that you can adjust the flame style, shape, and other parameters.

Whether you want to enhance the existing fire or create a flame from scratch on an image, the software has various tools and techniques to improve your real estate photos.

Using Flame Brushes and Patterns

Follow this step-by-step process to put authentic-looking flames in your real estate images.

Camera lens beside laptop displaying Photoshop
  1. Load a new file, and set it to 500 x 500 pixels. Input the resolution to 72, the color mode to RGB, and the Background Contents to white.
  2. The flame would materialize better on dark or black backgrounds than plain ones. Choose the Paint Bucket, set black as the foreground color, then click on the canvas to turn it to black.
  3. Load the Flames Brushes set, then pick the particular brush tool you like. For example, the flames6 brush.
  4. To manipulate the flames, put them on their own layer. To do that, select Create a New Layer in your Layers Palette
  5. Pick a bright orange hue for your foreground color, like #fc5e00.
  6. Resize your brush to 400 to 450 pixels.
  7. A flame generally doesn't have a uniform orange color, so you would need to create patterns to put bits of reds or yellows. Be sure to include the flame patterns in your software version for this.
  8. Click on the Add a Layer Style button in the Layers Palette, then select Pattern Overlay from the menu. From the small arrow-down menu, you would see all of the patterns selected on the pattern set. For instance, choose the SS-fire-patterns to see different flame patterns.
  9. After picking your preferred pattern, adjust the scale and opacity as you deem fit. Be sure to consider the color and the extent of how you want the patterns to look.
  10. When editing fireplaces, the colors on the base usually tend to have yellows and whites, while the colors right at the top have darker reds and oranges.
  11.  If you want to change the position of the patterns, left-click on the canvas and drag the Pattern Overlay window in the position you like.
  12. Go to the Layers Palette, then click on the background layer. Create a new layer, which would serve as a middle layer between the background layer and the one with the flames.
  13. Choose the layer with the flames, then click Layer > Merge Layers to merge the flames layer on the empty middle layer.
  14. Click the uppermost layer to help the flame color transition smoothly and produce a more blended look. From the bottom of the Layers Palette, select Gradient Overlay from the menu.
  15. The layer would likely have a black and white gradient first. When adding a gradient, apply black for the flame to fade into the background.
  16. Click on the actual gradient area, then place different gradients until you achieve the color effect you want. For example, you can use #ffe5c8, #7d4100, and #797d00 to further blend the gradient.
  17. Next, you need to put the lights at the bottom and the darks at the top. Click OK to bring back the Layer Styles window. Go to the gradient bar, then click on Reverse, which is on the gradient bar's right side, and a new popup and color picker will appear.
  18. Finally, the tips of the flame should fade off into the background until the effect looks just right and natural. To achieve this, remove the top edges of the flames using a soft, round brush with a low opacity.

Render Flames Tool and Layers Panel

Quicker than using the brushes is optimizing the new Render Flames tool. It's a very powerful and dynamic tool that lets you add flame in just a few steps where there otherwise wasn't one in your photo.

In this video, I demonstrate step by step how you can have the software render a flame into a fireplace. The same process can also be used to artificially light candles or put flame to an outdoor firepit in your twilight image if it wasn't possible to do so while shooting. 

As with just about everything in the program, there are a few options to achieve these effects.

Form a Path for the Flames

First, create your path using the pen tool or any of the shape tools. After that, select Filter > Render > Flames. Ensure that you have a targeted pixel layer in the Layers panel as a landing place for your flame.

Choose the Flame Type

The filter enables adjustment to the type of flame you can make.

  • One Flame Along Path: Forms a single flame on each path.
  • Multiple Flames Along Path: Creates more than one flame on each path, yet the flame will follow the direction of the path.
  • Multiple Flames One Direction: Renders multiple flames that will point in the same path.
  • Multiple Flames Path Directed: Develops several flame patterns on each path. However, each flame would point according to the path angle.
  • Multiple Flames Various Angle: Renders multiple random flames on a path, although you can adjust the angle variation. 
  • Candle Light: Place one candlelight on a path.
Living room with modern fireplace

Change the Flame Style and Shape

The software provides 3 different flame styles. The first one is Normal, which is like a basic flame. Using the Violent style produces harsher flames with brighter effects, while Flat lacks dimension or depth.

After setting the flame style, you can also modify the flame shape to Parallel to keep the flames in an upward position or use Spread to make the flames spread outward from the center.

Another option is To The Center, which points the flames toward the center. On the other hand, Oval directs the flames to go out from the bottom and come back in, whereas Pointing makes the flames converge at one point.

Adjust Parameters

The most basic parameters are Length, Width, Angle, and Interval, which you can all adjust in pixels.

For a more advanced setting, you can check the Adjust Interval For Loops to adjust and even out the gaps between the flames on a certain path. Another option is to modify the Flame Lines setting to decrease or increase each flame's number of lines.

You can also set the roughness and calmness of the flames by clicking on the Turbulent setting.

Enhancing the Existing Flames

Yes, there is more to good-looking fires than just the flame. You need logs on grates etc. My approach is using an actual flame with logs and all the support from a real flame. The way to do this is as follows:

  1. Use the Polygon Lasso to select the flame you want to use (assuming you have a collection of real fires) and cut it out of the original photo.
  2. Drag it on the image that needs a flame, so the flame is on its own layer.
  3. Use Transform > Distort > Clone for the opacity of the flame layer to get the flame the right size, in the right place, and the right look. The great thing about fires is they are usually an amorphous glob, so it's not hard to make them look convincing.
  4. Don't misrepresent the type of fireplace. That is, don't put a big blazing wood flame in a fireplace that has a gas log. Gas fires are more subdued.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why Can't I See the Render Flames Filter?

It's possible that you're working on a Type layer or a Smart Object. The Render Flames filter only works on pixel layers.

Can I Manipulate Real Estate Images?

As a general rule, real estate photographers can edit images as long as they don't entirely change the property or misrepresent the perspective. However, this may depend on the requests of the clients, so settle this before editing.

How Can I Edit Real Estate Photos in Lightroom?

For Lightroom, you can adjust the exposure to even out the light, desaturate colors to play with the hue, apply lens correction to straighten lines and do color correction.

Conclusion

As you can see, there are several ways for you to quickly create flames, as well as advanced methods for a more sophisticated flame effect. Whichever you choose, it's important that you understand the Photoshop tools and techniques properly for more seamless editing.

How do you accomplish a similar result in your photos? Is this something you regularly do in your workflow? Do you offer this as an add-on service?

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Garey Gomez
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