This tutorial will show you how to make a realistic fire effect. I will be using text, but like all of the tutorials, you can do this on just about anything that suits your fancy**. This is a fairly complicated tutorial so I expect questions and for people to get lost. I will do my best to explain fully however.
Step 1: Open a new document 400x400 pixels with a transparent background. Press SHIFT+D (reset your colors to the default) and use your paintbucket to fill in the background with black.
Step 2: Type your text and center it or drag your layer you wish to set ablaze into the new image. Duplicate layer and rename duplicated layer to Main and then hide it (click the eye next to the layer in the layer window). Rename original layer to "Fire". Do this, so you can follow along what layer I am talking about later. If using text, make sure the Text on the Main layer is BLACK and DO NOT RASTERIZE this layer.
Step 3: On the Fire layer, use the transform tool (CTRL+T) and Rotate 90 degrees CCW. Go to Menu: Filter-->Stylize-->Wind. Use from Right to Left and the Wind option (not blast or stagger). Press CTRL+F two times. This uses the same filter again so you have effectively used the Wind filter 3 times. Use the transform tool (CTRL+T) and Rotate 90 degrees CW to set the image back to its original position. You may have to re-center your image/text.
Step 4: Now we have the flames built, but we gotta make them look like flames. First, go to Menu: Filter-->Blur-->Gaussian Blur. Use a 2.0 pixel radius.
Step 5: Now, highlight the "Fire" layer in your layer window (should already be, but just in case) and press CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E. This combines all the visible layers into this central layer.
Step 6: Press CTRL+U (or Menu: Image-->Adjustments-->Hue/Saturation) and click the "Colorize" box. Set your Hue to 30 and your saturation to 100. Duplicate the layer and rename it "Fire2".
Step 7: Press CTRL+U again and this time leave the Colorize check box unchecked and adjust your hue to -40. Leave everything else as is, press enter.
Step 8: Now we have to set the blending option of Fire2 to Color dodge. In the layer window there is a drop down box right underneath the "Layer" tab that should read "Normal". Click it and set the blending mode to "Color Dodge". You will notice the image change a bit. Now, make sure Fire2 is ABOVE Fire in the Layer window and press CTRL+E. This will merge the two layers together. It is important that you set the blend mode on Fire2 to "Color Dodge" BEFORE you merge them together.
Step 9: Now it is beginning to look like fire isn't it? Only problem is, our lines are all straight and we all know that fire doesnt have straight flames. Now its time to change that. There are two ways I know of doing this, I will explain both in Step 10a and Step 10b.
Step 10a: This way is easiest, but you also have less control over how the flames look. Go to Menu: Filter-->Distort-->Ripple. Set it to about 25 percent and "Large" size. then Press enter. I used ripple twice to get the effect I wanted. You may have to adjust your settings, depending on the size of your image/text and what you want your fire to look like. (This is not my recommended way, but if you find the next part too difficult, then this is a quick and easy way)
Step 10b: Go to Menu: Filter--Liquify (or SHIFT+CTRL+X). A window pops up (pictured below.) Now, depending on your image and/or Text size, you will have to use different settings for brush size but your brush pressure should be from 40-50. My brush size started at 10, but I didn't like the effect it was giving me so I changed to 5 and it worked well. Now, start at the top of the WHITE area, click and hold and make a zig zag motion going up the screen. This takes a bit of artistic touch but do it once, check out the end result and if you dont like it, then press CTRL+Z to UNDO then do it again. Once you get your technique down, you can continue and do the rest of the image/text. When finished, press ENTER or click OK.
Step 11: OK, now you should have an image that looks roughly similar to the one pictured below, left (depending on which method you did 10a or 10b). The next step is to make your original black text visible and erase the top part of it. This is the cool part. Click the empty left hand box next to the "Main" layer (where the "eye" is in the other layers) to make the layer visible again. If it is not centered properly, make sure it is centered on top of the flames in the right position. Now grab your eraser tool (pictured below). Pick one of the fuzzy erasers and then set the size to 150. Make sure the "Main" layer is selected and then erase the top portion of the text so that the top seems to fade into the flames behind it.
Well thats it. Here's mine. I added a reflection from Tutorial #3 just to give you an idea.
Any questions or comments, please let me know.