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Photoshop Tutorial : Create A Water Effect

I nicked one of Asp’s image for this :flowers: < for Asp 8)

As usual, most of what you do will be dependant on the image you choose to work with. The settings here are relevant to this image 800 x 600 @72dpi.

Click through on the image below to get the full size version to practise on, or try it out on one of your own.

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Duplicate the background layer by dragging it to the new layer icon, or press Ctrl + J on the keyboard. Turn off the original background layer.

I’ve picked a grey colour from the sky RGB all 102. This will be image dependant as you will see shortly. If you have a nice bright blue sky you may want to pick a darker blue from the sky and try that with your own image.

Grab your rectangular marquee tool from the tool bar and draw out a rectangle similar to the one I have if you are following along with this image. Then go to Edit>Fill and choose the foreground colour, or press Alt + backspace on the keyboard.

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Go to Selection>Inverse, then press Ctrl + J on the keyboard to place the selection on its own layer – this will be the reflection. Then go to Edit>Transform>Flip Vertical. Grab the move tool and drag the flipped layer down similar to the image below.

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Now go to Filter>Blur>Motion Blur and you can punch in the same settings that I have below. This blur needs to go vertically, if you are working on a different image.

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Turn off the blurred layer for a moment and work on the layer where you filled the rectangle. I want you to select the rectangle again …… we’re going to play in an Alpha Channel 🙂

Once you have the coloured rectangle selected you can turn back on the blurred layer. Now, click on the channels tab at the top of layers palette, then click on the create new channel icon at the bottom of the channels palette. Your selection will still be visible and I want you to go ahead and fill it with 50% grey. Edit>Fill and choose 50% grey from the menu. If the Channels palette isn’t visible to you, go to Window>Channels and click on it to view the channels palette. You should have something similar to the image below.

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Now go to Filter>Noise cos we’re going to add some noise. You can punch in the settings that I have if you like. You’ll notice that I’ve given this quite a bit of noise.

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Next you’re going to go to Edit>Blur>Motion Blur and change the direction to Horizontal i.e. angle 0. See image below.

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Next I want you to go to Image>Adjustments>Levels to bring up the Levels Dialogue Box and you can punch in the same settings that I have in the image below. This will create the small ripple effect on the water when we take it back into the layers palette.

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You can deselect now.

I went back to the reflection layer in the layers palette and lowered the opacity of the layer to 85% …. this is optional 🙂

Holding down the Ctrl key I want you to click on your Alpha Channel to load the Transparency. Click on the RGB layer in the channels palette, then switch back to the layers palette. Make sure that your reflection layer is active by clicking on it, make sure your foreground colour is black, then press Alt + Backspace on the keyboard. Then you can deselect the selection. You should have something similar to the image below.

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There are couple of optional things you could now, like adding a layer mask and placing a small gradient at the water line. I Merged the 2 top layers together, then turned back on the background layer and working on the merged layer I used the eraser tool to chip a little bit at the shoreline to make it look a little more realistic. You could also try the Blur Tool or the Smudge Tool to get the effect you want. Have fun with it and if you have any questions just ask. If you find that some of the edges of the image have pulled in when we did the motion blur, just clone them out. In the final image below I could have probably taken the opacity of the reflection layer down a little bit more.

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