How to Create Real Steam Effect in Photoshop

How to Create Real Steam Effect in Photoshop

Giving your images a little steam to make them more visually appealing is sometimes a necessary addition to your photos. How do you go about that effect to improve your image though? This simple guide will show you how to achieve the desired effect.


You will start by opening an image of a coffee/tea.

opening an image

Select the Pen tool and select the Shape Layers.

Now create a shape as similar to the this.

Now convert the shape layer to smart object by going to Filter > Convert to Smart Filters. By converting to Smart Filters, we have the option of editing the shape later if we have to.

The 1st filter will be Gaussian Blur. Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur. I’m going to keep the Radius at 13 pixels.

The 2nd filter we’ll use is the Wave Filter. Go to Filter > Distort > Wave…

The next filter we’ll use is Zigzag. Go to Filter > Distort > Zigzag… I’ve set the Amount to 21, Ridges: 4 & Style: Around Center, you’re values may be different depending on the shape. Press OK after done.

We’ll now add blur to separate the edges. Go ahead to Filter > Blur > Surface Blur… I’ve changed the Radius to 92 px & Threshold to 238 px. Adjust until you think the shape looks good. Then press OK.

Now to add some Texture. Create a new Layer.

Create a selection from the steam layer. This can be done by pressing Ctrl & clicking on the steam layer’s thumbnail. Make sure the Layer 1 or the new layer is selected.

Once the selection is made, go to Filter > Render > Clouds. Since this will look overdone, change the layer property to Overlay.

Double click on the Steam Layer to open the Layer Style Window. Select Satin and lower the Opacity, change the Distance to 32px & Size to 18px.

Now go to the Blending Options & lower the overall Opacity. I’ve brought it down to 50%. Then click OK.

Here’s the final output.

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