Set photos ablaze with the fire effect: a Photoshop how-to.

Create a roaring fire or just a subtle flicker — make your images glow.

Smoldering ashes in a post-apocalyptic scene. A flickering candle in a spooky house. A roaring fire in a cozy wintertime retreat. There are endless ways to bring your photos to life with the fire effect in Adobe Photoshop, and it only takes a few steps to start feeling the heat.

Smolder, flicker, and roar with the fire effect.

As with most special effects, you need to work in layers. To add fire in Photoshop, think of each flame as a new layer. This way, you can naturally build flames on top of one another for the most realistic effect. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to create a fire effect in Photoshop:

  • Open your image in Photoshop. Select the Pen tool and set it to Path.
  • Create a new layer. This is where you’ll begin to create your flame.
  • Draw the first flame. With the Pen tool, click and drag to create an S-shaped curve to mirror the natural movement of a flame.
  • Add the Flame filter. Click Filter, then Render, then Flame.
  • Set it ablaze. In the Filter drop-down for Flame, select One Flame Along Path. Once the dialog box appears, you can adjust your flame’s characteristics like color, opacity, and turbulence. (You’ll need to click the Advanced tab to see some of the available settings.)
  • Spread the fire. To create more fire, add a new layer for every new flame. Once you set the path with the Pen tool, tap CMD+F/CTRL+F. The Discover panel will come up by default, and you can apply the same Flame filter settings as before.

A couple helpful tips for working in layers:

Play around with the placement of your flames until they fit into your photo the way you’d like. Consider the flame saturation, too — increasing or decreasing the amount can help them better blend into their overall environment.

Discover even more tips and tricks to make your edits top-notch.

Explore what more you can do with Photoshop as you begin experimenting with special editing techniques.