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
To complete the tutorial, you will need the following assets:
1. How to Create a Background
Press Control-N to create a new document and use the following settings: 1900 x 1200 px; 300 dpi.
Pick the Gradient Tool (or just press G) and use the following colors:
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.
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.
Now we set the Blending Mode to Overlay to blend the texture into the background and voila!
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:
Then go to Filter > Texture > Texturizer and use the Canvas Texture with 80% Scaling and Relief set to 4.
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.
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%.
Then add a Mask with a gradient to mask out the top and fade down.
2. How to Create a Text Glow Effect in Photoshop
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%.
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.
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%.
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%.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Then go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur and set the Radius to 8 px.
Grab a large, soft eraser brush, and just erase away parts at the bottom so it's kind of uneven.
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.
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.
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.
Set the Blending Mode of this layer to Overlay, and you should have something like the image below.
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.
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.
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.
Now set this latest layer Blending Mode to Overlay.
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.
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.
3. How to Create a Text Glow Effect in Photoshop
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.
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.
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.
Create duplicates of all the three flames, so you have the original files untouched, and then make the original flames Invisible.
Select the first copy of the flame and hit Control-T and resize and rotate, and then add it to your first letter.
After that, add the second and third copies of the flames to the letter. Transform and rotate it as you like.
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.
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.
Remove the unwanted elements of your flames with the Eraser Tool.
Create a duplicate of the flames layer and then go to Filters > Blur > Gaussian Blur and set the radius to about 3 px.
After that, change the Opacity of the layer to 25%.
So we're pretty much there! This is how the composition looks:
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%.
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!
Looking for a fire overlay for a photo or want to create more effects like this? Check these awesome Photoshop resources:
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
Want to learn more Photoshop fire effects? Check these awesome tutorials:
- How to Create a Fireball Brush From Scratch in Adobe PhotoshopKirk Nelson12 Mar 2018
- How to Create an Emotional Fire Scene Photo Manipulation in Adobe PhotoshopJenny Le17 Nov 2017
- How to Create a Custom Smoke Brush in Adobe PhotoshopKirk Nelson26 Mar 2020
- How to Create a Flame Text Effect in Adobe PhotoshopRose07 Apr 2023