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Tips to Add Atmosphere in Your Images

Jun 05

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Phamily Photo

Today we’re doing another start to finish edit! This image was submitted by  Stevie Keen. In the Suggest an Episode section you can send us any photo you’d like to see edited here in an episode. Let us know what you would like to see done!

What’s Covered

First I’ll start off with curves to  slightly darken the highlight areas. Using Apply Image with a layer mask will make this layer more visible in the lighter areas, fixing any exposure problems. Next I’ll use a custom brush to add in more fog. This looks the most natural when its built up slowly in layers. Using a darker color and then lighter on top will make it look realistic.

Download your free brush HERE

After we finish building up the fog I’ll select out the tree using the lasso tool for the layer mask. The pen tool is great for making selections that are crisp and clean, but for this I’ll use the lasso tool to mimc the rough edge of the tree.

Lastly I’ll add in some color toning using levels and curves. Color is a great way to add mood and effect to your photos and can be done in a few simple steps.

Episode Timeline

  • 0:30- Instagram
  • 0:50- Contest Winners
  • 1:35- Starting with curves
  • 1:45- Apply Image
  • 2:15- Using a custom brush for fog
  • 3:00- Building the effect
  • 4:05- Adding blue using levels adjustment layer
  • 4:35- Making a selection with the lasso tool for the layer mask
  • 6:00- Color toning using levels
  • 7:00- Curves
  • 7:45- Adding gradients to darken
  • 8:10- Fading out the fog
  • 9:10- Using the high pass filter to sharpen
  • 10:00- Burning using a darken blend mode
  • 10:40- New texture contest

Texture Contest

Entries are due on Monday, check out the facebook page for all the info. Good luck!

  • Chinopr29

    Thank you for a great tutorial!

  • Canan

    WOw!!!!! I LALALALALOOOOOVE this Episode!!!! Thank you SO much, Aaron!:-)

  • Lawrence Smith

    Great tutorial, love instagram atleast from what I have seen…………..unfortunately I have a blackberry and the app hasn’t made it way to my platform as yet bummer!

  • Sebastian Ortiz

    Excellent tutorial, but bro, the video quality is terrible…. I have no idea what you’re doing, but go back to whatever you were using to upload video before… I was able to see words on your workspace before, now the image is shot. Sometimes it’s hard to follow along with you when we can’t really see what you’re doing.  It’s like you used to be 1080p now you’re using less than 240… tsk tsk tsk… LOL.

  • SM

    hey aaron,  do you think you could start flashing the winning images on the screen when you announce contest winners?  or post them under the video that you announce them in?  its a little difficult to listen for names then go find the original post, the scroll through to find the winning images…thanks!

  • SM

    and thanks for the awesome episode as always…

  • Maria Dolgopolova

    you can see the pictures of the winners in Miss Aniela’s theme.

  • Lna Palace

    Hi Aaron, thank you so much for choosing my photo! I’m so happy!
    What do I have to do to give you my adress so you can send me the book?
    thanks a lot!

  • Samuel

    Didn’t notice a problem with the quality from my end.

  • Aaron Nace

    hey Lna congrats! just send us an email with your address

  • Sebastian Ortiz

     Yeah, there’s a big difference, between this episode and the next episode. I have 3 monitors, two are apple and one is to a PC, I checked to see if it was just my monitor, it showed the same on all. The next episode is crisp and clear… this one not so much. his other episodes in the past were crisp and clear as well. Either way it was a great episode, video quality was just Aaron’s usual… maybe it was the way it was uploaded. It happens.

  • claude laramee

    Ur a great teacher Aaron . Also thanks 4 the link to Andric, here is a cool guy that works with him :

  • claude laramee

    Thanks so much ! I learn a ton with U  !

  • Waseef Akhtar

    pretty cool! I love Instagram so much. It’s so instant and fun! I use it every day xD

  • Pingback: Amazing Light Leaks and Lens Flares

  • Karissa Hosek

    thanks for the help with fog/smoke! been really wanting to learn this. phlearn freakin rocksssss!! :) Andric’s work is beautiful! kinda reminds me of Erik Almas a bit too :)
     I’m totally addicted to instagram I had it for awhile and didn’t use it much but lately its been my favorite app. I think its a fun way to get a little creative with everyday life. I enjoy taking multiple images from something & create a collage its so fun :)  check out PictureFrames app if you want to put more than 1 photo together!

  • sal

    Quick question, what’s the shortcut to rotate the brush? 

  • StevieKeen

    Thanks for editing my picture Aaron! Has given me much better knowledge for editing the rest of this shoot, like this one: 



  • mynameiskalee

    What tablet are you using? Do you have a recommendation for the best tablet to use with photoshop?  There are a lot more than I thought out there! :)
    ps, you’re great!  I have learned more from a few of your videos about photoshop than I have in my 2 years college for photography! hahaha

  • Jenna Petrone

    Hi Kalee! Aaron uses this tablet religiously:
    But, if you are looking for a tablet to learn on I would recommend this one: and then upgrade when needed. : )

    I’m also glad to hear you’re learning so much from Phlearn! If there’s anything you want to learn that we haven’t covered yet, let us know! 

  • Ian Komac

    Amazing episode, as always! The fog brush is amazing, thank you so much :) This is a photo in were I used it

  • Alex

    Instagram is ok but I don’t use it anymore, instead I use RetroCamera, VintageCamera and BeFunky!

  • ggr8buck

    I just found your site is the brush no longer available or did you email it out?

  • Aydın Özer

    this is an inspiring image

  • laszlomag

    haha, that’s brilliant!

  • Mary

    Which version of photoshop are you using? I tried downloading the brushes to work with and my program said that I couldn’t because they are not compatible with my version of photoshop. I am using CS5. Thanks!

  • Vlad

    Hi Aaron,
    How do you manage to rotate the brush so fast, is there a keyboard shortcut?
    Thanks for the amazing tutorials!

  • Dave C

    Your fog brush was perfect for this image.

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Random Tips

Want to see the exact size of the brush when you are painting painting in PS. This is not turned on by default. To change this, go to “Edit” >> “Preferences” >> “Display and Cursors”. Set the settings for the cursors to Brush Size.