Last year I created some images using fireballs, explosion, fire and smoke. Basically I only used brushes to create that in Photoshop. Now with the release of the new Pixelmator 1.4 and its brand new Brush Engine I decided to try it and create the same image in Pixelmator.

So, in this tutorial I will show you how to create fire and smoke using Pixelmator. We will play with the Brush Engine, colors and Blendings.

Also visit the Pixelmator site for more information at http://pixelmator.com

Step 1

Open the new Pixelmator 1.4 and place import an image to your document. I used an old image I had and I really don't know where I found it. If you know please let me know and I will credit the author.

Fiery Fireballs in Pixelmator 1.4

Step 2

Duplicate the image layer and change the Blending to Overlay.

Fiery Fireballs in Pixelmator 1.4

Step 3

Now it's the coolest feature in this new version of Pixelmator, the Brush Engine. Go to View>Show Brushes. Then select the brush I selected in the image below. Just double click to edit it. You will have pretty much the same settings as in Photoshop. Change the Spacing to 40%, Scatter to 0%, Flow to 100%, Angle to 100% and Opacity to 50%. Use the image below for reference. With this brush we will create all the smoke and fire effects.

Step 4

Create a new layer, select black for the color and pick the Brush Tool (b). Start painting the first fireball, to do that go pressing the button and not holding the button, that way you can change a bit the direction and it will produce a less uniform effect. Also use the "[" and "]" to resize the brush. So you can make it bigger and smaller just to create a more realistic effect.

Fiery Fireballs in Pixelmator 1.4

Step 5

Add another layer on top of the fireball layer and select grey for the color. Paint a smoke over the end of the fireball, exactly like the image below.

Fiery Fireballs in Pixelmator 1.4

Step 6

Now create another layer and select orange for the color. Change the Blending of this layer to Multiply and paint over the fireball and grey smoke.

Fiery Fireballs in Pixelmator 1.4

Step 7

Let's add another layer, keep the orange for the color and paint over the other smokes again. This time however, change the Blending of the layer to Color Dodge.

Fiery Fireballs in Pixelmator 1.4

Step 8

Let's add another layer and, now, select white for the color. We'll create the highlights of the fire. Still using the same brush, reduce its size a bit and paint over. The Blending of this layer will be Color Dodge too.

Fiery Fireballs in Pixelmator 1.4

Step 9

Add another layer, now let's create the shadows. Select black for the color and paint another smoke cloud, this time use Overlay for the Blending.

Fiery Fireballs in Pixelmator 1.4

Step 10

Select the Lasso Tool (L) and create a marquee selection on the areas of the photo that are in front of the effects. After that select the fireball layer and go to Layer>Add Layer Mask.

Fiery Fireballs in Pixelmator 1.4

Step 11

Select the all the layers used to create the fireball and fires and duplicate them. Then go to Layer>Merge Layer. Reduce its size going to Edit>Transform>Scale. Then change the Blending to 86%. Also use the mask feature to hide the areas that are supposed to be behind the plane.

Fiery Fireballs in Pixelmator 1.4

Step 12

Using black and a new layer create more smoke. Change the size of the brush to make the smoke more realist so close to the ground make it much smaller. After that duplicate the layer and change the Blending to Multiply, that way the smoke will be much stronger. Remember, always use Mask to hide the areas behind the aircraft and the dude.

Fiery Fireballs in Pixelmator 1.4

Step 13

Duplicate the big smoke layer you have just created and use the Perspective tool to create the shadow. Just go to Edit>Transform>Perspective and start distorting the new layer. Use the soldier's shadows for reference.

Fiery Fireballs in Pixelmator 1.4

Step 14

Also create another smoke column using the brush tool.

Fiery Fireballs in Pixelmator 1.4

Step 15

Here I used an image I created for the Flying Girl, it's an explosion I did using Cinema 4d. So basically I just imported the image and selected a part of it. Then I changed the size and used the Zoom Blur to create a nice explosion effect. After that just change the Blending to Multiply.

Step 16

Let's add another smoke column. Again with the brush tool create the smoke but make it a little curved to the right. Use Hard Light for the Blending.

Fiery Fireballs in Pixelmator 1.4

Step 17

Add another layer and create smaller smokes close to the ground using black for the color.

Fiery Fireballs in Pixelmator 1.4

Step 18

Now create another layer and paint some orange smokes. Use Color Dodge for the Blending.

Fiery Fireballs in Pixelmator 1.4

Step 19

Finally, add another layer and paint more smoke this time use Multiply for the Blending.

Fiery Fireballs in Pixelmator 1.4

Step 20

Create a new layer, behind all the smokes, just on over the Image layer and fill it with black. Select the Elliptical Marquee Tool (Y) and create an ellipse. Fill the ellipse with white and go to Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur. Change the Blending to Color Dodge and you will have a sort of blast effect.

Fiery Fireballs in Pixelmator 1.4

Step 21

Add another layer, this time in front of all the other layers. With the Gradient Tool (G) fill the layer with a gradient from Yellow to Black. Then just change the Blending to Overlay.

Fiery Fireballs in Pixelmator 1.4

Conclusion

Now just add your logo and you will have a very nice apocalyptic image full of fireballs and smoke. We basicaly used only one brush and just played with colors and blend modes. It's really nice to see the guys over at Pixelmator working hard to improve this great image editor. The Brush Engine and the Clouds filter are great, I did this image last year in Photoshop and now in Pixelmator and I have to say, Pixelmator is much faster in terms of Filters like blurs. The Zoom blur is a greate example, it's in real time, while in Photoshop it's always a surprise the effect wil you will get.

Playing with Pixelmator 1.4
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Download the Pixelmator File

Click here to download the Pixelmator file used for this tutorial

About the author of this post

Abduzeedo is a blog about design. There are all sorts of articles for those who want to look for inspiration. Also you will find very useful tutorials for the most used applications out there, with a special selection of Photoshop Tutorials and Illustrator Tutorials. Of course there are other softwares conteplated like Pixelmator, Fireworks, and web design tutorials.