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Creating Realistic Mist

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  • Creating Realistic Mist

    I have always struggled trying to make any mist look realistic when created from scratch and the problem I have is that mist has depth i.e. further away objects are most obscured by the mist than near ones and it's hard to do that 3D stuff in PS.

    I would love some pointers about how to go about it - I have tried building the mist up gradually and attempting to make distance and depth in the mist but it always looks totally fake.

    Here is a recent attempt that I am totally unhappy with:

    This is a hotlink direct to a Facebook image so I hope you can see it - if not could someone please tell me? Thanks:

  • #2
    Re: Creating Realistic Mist

    You know I think you might have more luck with this one on a vfx oriented forum. It's because matte painters are more likely to encounter this type of problem. I haven't really tried to paint mist. If I was going to, I would have my secondary display filled with reference material. If it's just an inability to figure what's missing, reference material can help quite a bit.

    That aside there are a couple things that jump out at me. I don't mind the saturation of the sky, but I do mind the contrast. If you're looking through that much mist, you wouldn't see such a clear sky in the background. It's additional moisture in the air, which has a much higher refractive index than the air itself. The vantage point of the image doesn't really feel like you're completely above the mist looking down, and you end up with things becoming too clear in the background relative to the foreground. Even at typical humidity levels in a temperate climate it tends to work the other way.


    • #3
      Re: Creating Realistic Mist

      Hi, I took your comments on board and had another go.



      • #4
        Re: Creating Realistic Mist

        You might not care to spend money to learn this, but over in our rentals section we have a show I did with Scott Valentine all about adding atmospherics. Obviously many other types are also discussed, as it is over 2 hours.
        Learn by teaching
        Take responsibility for learning


        • #5
          Re: Creating Realistic Mist

          Mist is a cloud. Start by adding clouds to the image at lighten, soft light, screen etc. blending modes. You will have the "depth" as they obey the laws of perspective.


          • #6
            Re: Creating Realistic Mist

            Originally posted by DaydreamJay View Post
            Hi, I took your comments on board and had another go.

            It's a little more balanced, but that building is still too sharp in the background. There are a couple things that will happen with mist. First of all even though the vantage point doesn't feel like it should be above all of it (as I mentioned) it will tend to collect more lower than higher. The second is that something further away at a comparable height should be more obscure than a closer object. Third is that it doesn't tend to have abrupt horizontal edges the way it appears in spots on these. It can seemingly clump, but there are parts where you go from extreme visibility to very little over a very short distance.

            That is why I said to study your subject. I don't think there's any other way to get better results here. By that I mean find some good reference and keep it next to you. Make an adjustment and compare the feeling being added. It's something to do when you don't really understand the behavior of your subject yet.


            • #7
              Re: Creating Realistic Mist

              you really need to find and show a reference image. i think you have a tough battle on your hand. i have to imagine it's fairly rare to have so much mist in a scene that is both so saturated and with such hard, directional sun.

              i prefer your first treatment because the mist is more localized in the lower regions, allowing for the directionality of light above. as if, perhaps there were a river in the foreground out of frame. but the image is still too saturated.

              the second image looks like a light snow dusting came from the left. something is very incongruous in each image.

              here i've tried a blending of your two attempts. i put your second in Color Mode above your first. i think it's better. still need to see a good reference image though.
              Attached Files


              • #8
                Re: Creating Realistic Mist

                I took this shot a few weeks back. Typical English misty morning. Note the general lighting and colours.
                Attached Files


                • #9
                  Re: Creating Realistic Mist

                  I think you have a long way ahead on this one. What you're trying to do is not easy at all, and your photo is tricky.

                  First you have to analyze how mist work: it builds gradually as you go more towards the background, it desaturates colours and lowers contrast.
                  Then you have to analyze how it looks: it's dense, but not uniform, and it fades as you move up. It behaves like a fluid, so it takes the shape of it's container (in this case the valley) and kind of stays leveled like the surface of a lake.
                  Lastly you have to analyze your image: mist is generated by the humidity of the ground, so everywhere you have a field with grass you have mist. Your image is very difficult to map, but you can do a decent job eyeballing it.

                  Oh, using a custom brush with very low flow is almost mandatory for a believeable effect, and blending in some smoke/mist stock images could add realism as well.

                  If you give me the photo without mist I could make a very quick try when I have a minute (a decent job will take quite some time).


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