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Dramatic Text on Fire Effect in Photoshop

This post is part of a series called Photoshop Tutorials for Beginners.
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What You'll Be Creating

Flames are particularly hard to render in Photoshop, but in this tutorial, I'll show you how to use a photograph of fire to set the text to the match. We'll render the look on a nice dark background with a gorgeous text effect to complete the image.

This is the second of our five-part series on Photoshop Typography. Don't forget to check our previous tutorial: Create a Spectacular Grass Text Effect.

Follow along with us over on our Envato Tuts+ YouTube channel:

What You Will learn in This Dramatic Text on Fire Effect in Photoshop Tutorial

  • How to create a grunge distressed background in Photoshop
  • How to create a text glow effect in Photoshop
  • How to add the flames to the image

Tutorial Assets

To complete the tutorial, you will need the following assets:

1. How to Create a Background

Step 1

Press Control-N to create a new document and use the following settings: 1900 x 1200 px; 300 dpi.

creating a new document in Photoshop

Step 2

Pick the Gradient Tool (or just press G) and use the following colors: #5c3d09 and #1f1409.

setting up the gradient

Step 3

Select the Radial gradient type and create a background with our gradient. Notice that the gradient is not centered vertically but sits toward the top. In this image, we want the top of the text to be on fire, so the top part of the image should be a bit more lit up.

creating a gradient background in Photoshop

Step 4

As in the grass text tutorial, once again we're going to have a textured background. But rather than starting from scratch, I just copied the background from the previous tutorial, merged all the layers, and desaturated to get what you see below.

Creating a grunge texture

Step 5

Now we set the Blending Mode to Overlay to blend the texture into the background and voila!

changing the blending mode of the texture

Step 6

Just to add a bit more texture, though, let's create a new layer by hitting Shift-Control-N and then Fill this new layer with this brown color: #66500f.

creating and filling a new layer

Step 7

Then go to Filter > Texture > Texturizer and use the Canvas Texture with 80% Scaling and Relief set to 4.

adding a texturezi filter to the layer in photoshop

Step 8

Once you have your texturized layer, set the Blending Mode of the layer to Overlay. This adds some extra fine detail to our texture, which is good because we're working on such a big canvas.

changing the blending mode of the overlay

Step 9

Next, we're going to apply a layer to slightly desaturate the bottom half of the image. This is so that the top looks like it has a warmer glow where the flames are, while the bottom looks a little colder. Create a new layer and Fill it with the color #4b4f3b. Then set the Blending Mode to Color and Opacity to 45%.

creating a new color layer

Step 10

Then add a Mask with a gradient to mask out the top and fade down.

adding a gradient mask to the layer

2. How to Create a Text Glow Effect in Photoshop

Step 1

Let's add some text using Trajan font with #cb9328 color, and then set the Blending Mode to Linear Dodge with an Opacity of 8%.

creating a text layer and changing the opacity and blending mode

What we're going to be doing with our text is making it look as if the top half of the text is coming out of the background and is red hot with flames flickering off. This means we're going to run a lot of effects and apply layer masks to them so that only the top half shows, while the bottom half reverts to faded-out text as we have currently.

result of the manipulations

Step 2

So first create a new layer group to put all the text layers in—because there will be a lot of them. Then duplicate the text layer using Control-J and set the color of the duplicate text to #5e3f1c and set the Blending Mode to Overlay and the Opacity to 70%.

creating a duplicate of the text layer

Step 3

Duplicate the text again and set the latest duplicate color to #cb9328, and then set the Blending Mode to Linear Dodge and the Opacity to 30%.

creating second duplicate of the layer

Step 4

Now let's add a layer mask and draw a gradient so that the latest text layer fades out as shown below, and beneath you can see the reddish colored combination of the bottom two text layer.

adding a fade effect with a gradient layer mask

Step 5

Create another duplicate of the text layer, and put this layer on the bottom of the group. Set the color to #000000 and then go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur, and it will ask you to rasterize the text. Click Yes and then set the Radius to about 4 px.

creating a new layer with gaussian blur effect

Step 6

Then Control-Click on any of the text layers and go back to the black layer, and after that hit the Delete button, so you are just left with a sort of a shadow. Then duplicate this layer and merge it with the first by hitting Control-E, so the effect is heavier. You should have something that looks like the screenshot below.

creating a shadow text effect from the layer

Step 7

Once again, add a gradient layer mask so the shadow quickly fades out as shown. This makes it look as if the text is coming out of the page.

creating a fade effect for the shadow layer

Step 8

Now duplicate our black layer again and, using the Smudge Tool and a soft brush, you want to just smudge the shadow around so it looks like burn marks.

creating a burn mask effect

Step 9

Now it's time to make the top part of our text glow. So first of all, duplicate the text layer again and place this layer at the very top, and use the #dc9a08 color code. 

creating a glow text effect

Step 10

Then go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur and set the Radius to 8 px.

adding a gaussian blur effect to the glow text layer

Step 11

Grab a large, soft eraser brush, and just erase away parts at the bottom so it's kind of uneven.

deleting the parts of the glow text layer

Step 12

Set the glow layer Blending Mode to Soft Light. You might want to repeat the process, erasing even more so the top part is even glowier.

changing the blending mode of the glow overlay

Step 13

Now duplicate the text layer yet again, and place this at the very top. This one should be again the same yellow color (#dc9a08). Right Click on the layer and select Rasterize Type.

rasterizing the type layer in photoshop

Step 14

Then Control-Click the layer and go to Select > Modify > Contract and use a value of 1 px. Then press Delete to delete everything except that 1 px outline.

deleting the part of the text layer

Step 15

Set the Blending Mode of this layer to Overlay, and you should have something like the image below.

setting the blending mode of the layer to overlay

Step 16

Add a layer mask to the 1 px glow layer to fade it out down the bottom, as we've been doing with the other layers. Then duplicate the layer, and run a Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur set to 1 px. Then duplicate this layer again and blur it by 2 px. Then duplicate the layer again and blur it by 4 px.

creating a blurred duplicates of the layer

Step 17

Then Control-Click any of the text layers, press Control-Shift-I to invert the selection, and go through each of the glow layers and press Delete to remove any of the blur that has strayed out of the boundary of the text.

deleting the parts of the glow text layers duplicates

Step 18

Next we duplicate all four of the glow layers and merge them together. Grab the Smudge Tool and run over the text, smudging it up to look like heat waves coming off the text, as shown.

creating a heat waves effect using the smudge tool

Step 19

Now set this latest layer Blending Mode to Overlay.

changing the blending mode to overlay

Step 20

Now we've pretty much finished our text. I went through and duplicated some of the glow layers to make it look even fierier. Feel free to experiment with getting a real red-hot glow look by doing so.

creating duplicates of the layers

Step 21

Next, in keeping with the last wallpaper, I've gone and added a quote underneath my main text. This provides a nice embellishment to the page. Try to use colors that fit in with the background and text layer so it doesn't stand out too much because we really want this to be a secondary element to the main text. I've used Pt Sans as my font and laid it out just like in the previous Grass Text tutorial.

creating a new text layer

3. How to Create a Text Glow Effect in Photoshop

Step 1

Finally, with all our preparation done, it's time to add the actual flames! For this, we need some images of fire set against a plain black background. We need to open the flame image in Photoshop and then go to the Channels tab and then find the channel with the highest contrast, which for images of fire should be the Red Channel, and click on it. This will make your image appear black and white, and because we're on the highest contrast layer, it will seem really bright white.

selecting the red channel of the flame image

Step 2

Now Control-Click this channel and it will select all the pixels in that channel. After that, go back to the RGB channel and copy the selected pixels by hitting Control-C

creating a copy of the flame image

Step 3

And now we can easily paste the flame into our main image by pressing Control-V. This is actually a really useful technique for copying something translucent like fire off a flat background.

pasting the flame images

Step 4

Create duplicates of all the three flames, so you have the original files untouched, and then make the original flames Invisible.

creating duplicates of the original layers

Step 5

Select the first copy of the flame and hit Control-T and resize and rotate, and then add it to your first letter.

creating the first flame element

Step 6

After that, add the second and third copies of the flames to the letter. Transform and rotate it as you like.

finishing the flame effect of the first letter

Step 7

Create more duplicates of the flame layers and add them to each letter. Applying the fire is really as easy as moving the flames over the text. Also, feel free to stretch the fire elements to create a more realistic look.

creating the duplicates of the flames

Step 8

Select all the flame layers and then Right Click > Merge Layers. After that, change the Blending Mode of the flame layers to Screen so that any remaining black parts are totally gone, and it's even more transparent.

merging the layers

Step 9

Remove the unwanted elements of your flames with the Eraser Tool.

removing the parts of the flames

Step 10

Create a duplicate of the flames layer and then go to Filters > Blur > Gaussian Blur and set the radius to about 3 px.

adding the gaussian blur effect

Step 11

After that, change the Opacity of the layer to 25%.

changing the flames glow overlay blending mode

So we're pretty much there! This is how the composition looks:

Dramatic text composition

Step 12

Finally, we'll add the last highlight. Create a new layer above all the others and draw in a white to black radial gradient as shown. Set the Blending Mode to Overlay and the Opacity to 40%.

creating a gradient overlay

Awesome Work, You're Now Done!

And there we have it, a text on fire effect! If you're interested in creating flames from scratch in Photoshop, you might also like to check out this classic tutorial that coincidentally uses the same typeface!

final result

Looking for a fire overlay for a photo or want to create more effects like this? Check these awesome Photoshop resources:

Fire Overlays

This awesome pack of 20 fire photo overlays is perfect for creating the glowing and hot effect in Photoshop. The pack contains 20 hi-resolution transparent PNG files.

Fire overlays

50 Digital Fire Overlays

Another amazing pack of digital fire overlays with a really great resolution of 5000 px in a JPEG file format. All you need to do is drop the fire overlay onto your image and change the blending mode to screen.

50 digital fire overlays

Fire Photoshop Action

This product allows you to set any picture on fire! All you need to do is brush over your photo and then hit the play button. Give this amazing fire Photoshop action a try!

Fire photoshop action

15 Bonfire Photo Overlays

This set of 15 bonfire photo overlays is a great tool to improve your photos with high-quality flames. These overlays are extremely easy to use, and it will help you to create the cool atmosphere of a camping bonfire.

15 bonfire photo overlays

Fire Styles

Want to create a fire effect for your text? This collection of fire text styles for Photoshop is the best choice! It contains 18 realistic fire styles with a final number of 11 text effects. Save your time and create realistic fire text effects in a few simple clicks!

Fire styles

Want to learn more Photoshop fire effects? Check these awesome tutorials:

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