March 2014 Free Giveaway

Eight PNG files fo wisps of smoke with degrees fo Transparency

Wisps of Smoke and Steam

by Gary Bouton (Gare online)

A Creative Guide on Using the Wisps of Smoke

Because each of the smoke files is surrounded by transparency, and even the smoke itself has degrees of transparency, you have some latitude when composing a drawing that includes smoke, such as a piping hot cup of tea, an incense burner as shown here, a burned-out candle or match, you get the idea. (FYI, the incense burner and the coffee cup can be yours too. Just download the Bonus file archive at the bottom of the page!)

Here’s where you can have some creative fun with these files:

Brass incense burner with wafting smoke.
  1. You can apply transparency in Xara, modes such as Bleach to increase the intensity of some of the smoke files. You can even make the smoke look a little more subtle by applying fractal fill transparency to the files.

  2. You can stack the files. For example, the incense burner on this page (and in the Bonus file) is an image with transparency in front of a background. You can therefore put some smoke in front of the burner, and another strand behind.

  3. If you want the smoke to gently fade out to nothing at the top of the strand of smoke, use linear transparency type.

    Basically, because these are bitmaps, you can do anything with the smoke files that you can do with any other imported bitmap: use the Levels dialog, use a plug-in filter, scale the file, rotate it…and you might even consider using the Deformation live effect called Liquid color (32x version of Xara only) to bend and reshape any of these PNG files.

I think these files will make a handsome and unique addition to your art toolbox and I’m not blowing smoke for once).

Thanks to the kind and inventive people who coded Chaoscope, which is the only program I’ve experimented with for over a decade that can reproduce strands of wispy steam and smoke, the way you actually see smoke and steam rise in real life. Thanks, good people!

You can discuss this month’s giveaway and show us all how you’ve put these files to work on the associated thread in the Xara Xone forum on

All Contents Copyright © 2014 Gary Bouton. All Rights Reserved. These files and any associated materials may not be redistributed without permission.

Photo of Gary David Bouton

Gary David Bouton has been drawing with traditional tools for almost 40 years, and with digital tools such as Xara for close to 20. As large a fan as he is a practitioner, Gary encourages others to express themselves artistically through his writing, the over 25 books on graphics he’s had published, through the videos and tutorials he creates for The Xara Xone, and through his online school, Exclamations. You can send him some email, visit his personal website, or better yet drop on over to the Xara Xone Forum on TalkGraphics and talk to Gary and the rest of the Xara community.

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