I want to recreate the smoky texture that is depicted in these images. Please can someone identify this technique and if possible direct me to a decent tutorial for it? I'm adept at photoshop and illustrator. Thankyou


2 Answers 2


These aren't smoke, they're ink. I'm not 100% sure of the first one, it almost looks like crumpled fabric or a piece of a plant, but the second one definitely is a drop of ink in water.


Yeah I'm pretty sure.

http://wallpapershacker.com/abstract_minimalistic_liquid_fluid_ink_hd-wallpaper-1152816/ enter image description here

http://www.wallpapersxl.com/wallpaper/3840x1080/ink-in-water-drops-imgur-507745.html enter image description here

edit: oh yeah; the technique.

Take a camera, a drop of ink, and some water. Drop the drop of ink in the water. Take photos. In photoshop, fiddle with colors.

  • Such a beautiful effect, and so simple to recreate. You can do this with many different liquids so long as you're fast enough with the camera. (Just remember to take your goldfish out first!).
    – Paul
    May 23, 2016 at 8:35
  • 2
    Agree. But It is not just ink, but probably paint. The diference is that ink is more transparent and this looks milky, so it is probably paint.
    – Rafael
    May 23, 2016 at 8:42
  • @Rafael It could also be oil or other substances depending on the effect you want. But the technique is most commonly known as ink in water. Compare google.nl/… with google.nl/… May 23, 2016 at 9:01
  • Yes, I used food colouring to achieve a similar effect. It's all about trial and error with this particular method.
    – Bagseye
    May 23, 2016 at 15:43

A few more tips on technique:

  • camera on a tripod
  • a fishtank or container with flat glass. Curved glass like a jamjar will distort the image (but that may also be cool).
  • a very wide aperture (f stop) to create the shallow depth of field
  • soft lighting from multiple directions (if you don't have fancy lights, put the container in a well lit window and use sheets of white paper to reflect daylight)
  • you'll have to play around to avoid reflections.
  • a fast shutter speed
  • best choice would be a macro lens on a DSLR (or a zoom lens if you haven't got a macro - you need to be far away from the tank and zoom in on the area where the ink will swirl.)
  • put a plain coloured piece of card or cloth behind the tank, but some distance away - about the same distance as your camera is from the tank.
  • 1
    You can also use something like a white bathtub with the camera looking vertically down, and squirt the ink in from out-of-shot. I've done this with a lab beaker on white paper.
    – Chris H
    May 23, 2016 at 14:52

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.