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Jun 05, 2012

Tips to Add Atmosphere in Your Images

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!

40 Comments


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  • annie

    Thanks, found the brush! You are so generous for giving us these brushes, much appreciated!

  • annie

    Great tutorial! Love the fog. Can you provide a link to the fog brush? Cannot seem to find it. Thanks again!

  • Meggen Marr

    how the heck do i get the brush? help! i need to add fog to an image pronto lol

  • Summer Roden Photography

    Here’s the image I used it on! Summer Roden Photography

  • Vlad

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

  • 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!

  • Alex

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

  • 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: http://phlearn.com/gear/wacom-tablet
      But, if you are looking for a tablet to learn on I would recommend this one: http://phlearn.com/gear/wacom-bamboo-tablet 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! 

  • 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!

  • 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!

  • 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!

  • 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.

      • 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.

  • 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!

  • Canan

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