Skip to main content

How to create mist: Photoshop effects for atmospheric landscapes

Create mist to add drama to landscapes

There's always something to complain about when it comes to the weather. If it's raining we want it to be sunny, and when it's sunny we moan it's too hot! While we may not be able to change the weather outside, these grumbles can inspire a great Photoshop project.

In this tutorial we'll show you how to transform a warm sunny scene into a moody, misty landscape. To start you'll need to cool down the tones and selectively tweak the color saturation to replace the summer hues with a cooler color palette.

This is best done with a combination of Adjustment Layers, which gives you ultimate control over the image's tones.

Rather than slap on a few filters and effects, we'll build up the mist gradually

Once the image is properly toned we'll add mist. Rather than slap on a few filters and effects, we'll build up the mist gradually using layers and masks to give it depth.

The key is to make the mist look random, and shape it to follow the perspective of the scene. We can achieve randomness with the Clouds filter - which fills a layer with jumbled clouds - and then blend the effect effortlessly with the image using the Screen Blending Mode.

The original unedited image

The original unedited image

Real mist would naturally appear thicker as it recedes into the distance along the waterline. We can use the Transform command to make our digital mist follow a similar perspective.

We'll also use the Brush and Smudge tools to create a few subtle swirls that rise upwards from the water.

Step-by-step: how to create mist in Photoshop

(opens in new tab)

Join Adobe Creative Cloud and save 15% on your first year (opens in new tab)
TechRadar has teamed up with Adobe to offer a special discount on Creative Cloud All Apps membership. For the first year, you'll pay just $45.04/£42.46 per month – down from the regular price of $52.99/£49.94. You'll get access to Adobe's full suite of creative apps, including Photoshop, Lightroom and Illustrator, plus 100GB cloud storage for your projects. Offer ends August 26 2018.