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How to create "heat ripples"?

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Old 04-17-2011, 10:48 AM
Radtech1 Radtech1 is offline
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How to create "heat ripples"?

I am new to this forum, but I have been a member of a more general photography forum for 8 years. Though we have a "RAW, Post Processing and Printing" thread, I guess this question was too specific for them, so I am asking it here. Thanks in advance:

Does anyone know of/can think of an effective way to realistically create the kind of billowy heat ripples that you might see in jet exhaust? I am thinking that a displacement map might be involved, but I am really having a time creating something convincing.


Last edited by Radtech1; 04-17-2011 at 12:34 PM.
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Old 04-18-2011, 10:46 AM
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oneredpanther oneredpanther is offline
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Re: How to create "heat ripples"?

I don't have PS at my disposal right now, but I swear there is some sort of Turbulence tool in the Liquify menu that might do the job. If you were to make selection of where the exhaust should be, then feather a bit and Layer Via Copy, you might get close with liquify.

Alternatively, and this all off the top of my head, some combination of low amplitude, short wavelength Distort > Ripple and gaussian blur could so something similar.

Tough one... I'm going to experiment later.
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Old 04-18-2011, 11:51 AM
Caravaggio Caravaggio is offline
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Re: How to create "heat ripples"?

Could you post an image of the effect you are trying to simulate? Also maybe an image that you are try to do the effect on or if you can't do that then maybe just an image of a jet plane flying?
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Old 04-19-2011, 02:07 PM
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garibaldi garibaldi is offline
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Re: How to create "heat ripples"?


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Old 04-20-2011, 12:54 PM
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Vernon Vernon is offline
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Re: How to create "heat ripples"?

Just off the top of my head, I believe I did something approaching a "heat haze" effect that may be applicable to what you're after.

In rough steps (I will have to hunt down the PSD to view my level/effect notes for specifics):
  • new layer - fill with black
  • on same layer make a selection with a large feathering setting - depending on size of image, adjust the selection size
  • Fill with white
  • Add Filter>Distort>Ripple - set to high percentage (500~750%)
  • Duplicate filter (Ctrl+F) to double the ripple effect
  • Consider using the Transform tools to modify direction/slant/size of "shimmer" accordingly so it will better match the area you are applying this to
  • save this layer as psd file - this will become a displacement file
Apply the effect/filter
  • On image to receive the heat shimmer, go to Filter>Distort>Displace
    • Use Horizontal/Vertical scale settings at 10, click OK

I'm sure this can be revised for refinement/improvement; it's the best I can recollect without sitting in front my PC at home.

Hope that helps!
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