How to Draw Fire

Natural effects are very difficult to replicate through traditional drawing methods. Fire and flames are much simpler to create through digital drawing techniques, and can be done in programs like Adobe Photoshop. For those without the budget to purchase Photoshop, lower cost alternatives such as Painter and free software such as GIMP can be used to draw fire, too.

Steps to Draw Fire

When building a background for your fire image, it is necessary that you think about where fire is needed. Fire is generally used when it is dark. Knowing this, you can draw the background of your image. It should be a darker color, preferably black, dark brown or dark red. This will create an ambiance around your flames.

  1. Start by drawing the bottom layer of your fire. We will use red as our base, as it is the darkest color and coolest part of a fire. The base should be thick and complete. When reaching the tips of the flames, you will want to switch to a thinner, less consistent brush. Tips of flames tend to lick and twist round in different directions, so emulate this using that new brush.
  2. The easiest way to create color changes in fire while using your computer is not to change the color. Instead, you can easily differentiate contrast by using the “dodge” tool. The dodge tool can be used to create highlights on color you’ve already used. Experiment with brush types and opacity settings to change the intensity of the fire.
  3. Continue to use the dodge tool to intensify the contrast between reds, oranges, and yellows. Analyzing a real fire, you will notice that it is constantly shifting in color, holds an aura around the flames, and is made up of many different shades of color. Start to reproduce this. You may want to try using the smudge brush to keep stretching the flames, move colors around, and create a glowing effect around the existing fire.
  4. In the last steps of drawing fire, you’ll want to create an extreme amount of contrast. The hottest color of fire will come off as white. Use the color brush tool and paint in areas of white. Smudge this around until you get the desired fire effect you’d like. You can keep experimenting with brushes until you find the preferred result you would like. Going back and adding pinks, light oranges and highlighted yellows will help the ambiance of the final outcome.

There are many other digital techniques you can use to draw fire. Experimentation is the key to make the product that is perfect in your eyes.

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