Easy-breezy smoke text effects with After Effects and plug-ins

Do you want to make your college fests stand out from the pack? Or unveil the name of your next video in style? Well, all this and a lot more can be done with a little creativity and the right tools.

This blog will take you through an easy way of playing around with a basic trail of smoke to create a smoke text effect. All you need is built-in animation effects and presets in After Effects and the Smoke Pass effect from Video Copilot’s Smoke Elements pack.




Final effect

Get started with creating this cool smoke and text effect.

  1. Create a composition by choosing Composition > New Composition. Set the values according to your requirements and name the composition. I chose standard 1920*1080 px resolution for the composition and named it Main comp.
  2. Import the Smoke Pass effect into the composition. Choose File > Import > File. It will get added under the project panel. Drag and drop it on to the timeline and name the layer. I named it Smoke pass.

The next step is to change the colors of the smoke using Color Curve and create blue and pink smoke trails.

Blue smoke trail

  1. Choose Effects > Color Correction > Curves. You can manipulate the values of the RGB and alpha properties by dragging the points on the color curves.

blue-smoke-curve blue-smoke

Position of RGB and alpha curves for coloring the smoke blue

It is time now to make another smoke trail with a different color.

Pink smoke trail

  1. Make a copy of the blue smoke trail. For doing this, select the smoke pass video from the timeline and press Ctrl + D (Windows) or Cmd + D (iOS) to duplicate it and name it. I named it Pink smoke. Lock the Blue smoke layer by checking the box under Lock tab lock to prevent the layer from being edited.
  2. Now, all the changes you make will only affect the pink smoke layer.
  3. Under the Effect Controls tab, click the triangle mm next to the Curves effect and click Reset to change the color.

You can play around with the color channels to see what looks best. After you are done with adjusting the values for the desired results, change the direction of movement of the smoke trail.

  1.  Under the Effect Controls tab, choose Transform > Scale and change the value from 100 to   -100. It will flip the smoke trail horizontally.

pink-curve untitled

Position of RGB and alpha curves for coloring the smoke pink

Now that you have both your smoke trails ready, it is time to merge them together. Before doing that, don’t forget to deselect the box under the Lock tab.

  1. To merge the smoke trails, right-click the Pink smoke layer and choose Blending Modes > Screen.
  2. To fit the video to comp size, right-click on the comp screen and Choose Transform > Fit to Comp.

You will now have the two smoke trails flowing smoothly in your Main comp screen.



Click the Main comp and check results

Let’s add text to it now.

Select the Horizontal Type Tool horizontal-text-tool and place the cursor in the center of the Main comp screen. Type your text. It creates a text layer in the timeline. Name it fusion.

Now experiment with the font style and letter spacing as per your requirement.

  1. Under the Character panel, tweak the font style and spacing.

character fusion

Character settings for text

  1. Apart from changing font style, it is also important to add depth and dimension to the font. Choose Effect > Perspective > Drop Shadow.

Drop Shadow settings for achieving the smoke text effect


The next step is to create the glass wipe effect. It gives us the fluid and distorted wipe effect.

  1. Select the text layer and choose Effect > Transition > CC Glass Wipe. Adjust the settings as per your preference.

CC Glass Wipe settings for achieving the smoke

  1. Drag the text layer start point header to 00:12f. It is done to prevent the appearance of text before the smoke trails collide into each other.

Header placement of the text layer


And, you are done! If you were with me throughout this tutorial, creating this cool smoke effect wouldn’t have been difficult. If this has got you curious, you might like to experiment more.

Here is a quick yet interesting example of a Halloween greeting to get you started.


A few tips:

  1. Create the smoke text effect on top of the Smoke Pass effect.
  2. Experiment with the Wipe effects to create the text effect.
  3. Experiment with the backgrounds for your composition. They add character to your creation.

So, put on your creative hats and get set and go! Let us know about your experience. Was it easy? Do you have a tip or two to share with us?

New to After Effects? Get started with After Effects now | Learn effects and animation presets.

Check out all you need to know about After Effects.