Saturday, April 8, 2017

How to Create a Realistic Water Cube in Photoshop



In this tutorial we will use basic and advanced techniques in order to create a realistic water cube. Intermediate Photoshop users should feel right at home but the beginners can also follow it. Let’s begin!



You will create a realistic water cube with various fantastic elements scattered here and there. You will need Photoshop CS3 or newer in order to follow this tutorial.
Tutorial Resources
Sand Textureshadowh3
Sand Texture2Enchantedgal-Stock
Cracks – freeimages.com
Skeletonwolverine041269
Underwater1eddyhaze
Underwater2frostbo
Underwater3EvilHateYouAllStock
WaterSurfaceshudder-stock
BoatJinxMim
Fisherman – freeimages.com
Small Fishdarkadathea
Small Fish2AngelMoon17
Sharkwolverine041269
Diver – freeimages.com
Underwater Plant darkadathea
BirdsLG-Design
Cloud brushRyoku 15
Palmdigitaltwist
Nebula – freeimages.com
Step 1

Create a new file 1500×1581 pixels. Set the foreground color to a light blue (#4eaeeb) and the background color to white. Select the Gradient Tool (G) and hold shift while dragging from the upper side of the document to the lower side.


Step 2

Create a new layer (Ctrl + Shift + Alt + N) and choose the brush tool (B). Increase the size to 300px and lower the opacity to 20%. Select white as foreground color and click once or twice in the middle the document to create a backlight.


Step 3

Select the Pen Tool and create a form like shown below. Press Ctrl + Enter to convert the path into a selection and select a dark brown color as foreground (#484222). Create a new layer (Ctrl + Shift + Alt + N) and fill the selection with the foreground color by pressing Alt + Backspace.


Step 4

Duplicate the layer we create at step 3 (Ctrl + J) and press Ctrl + T to enter Free Transform. Right click on the layer and from the drop down menu choose Flip Horizontally. Move the duplicated layer to the left until you have the two sides of a cube as shown below.


Step 5

Select both the layers we created at steps 3 and 4 and press Ctrl + G to group them. Add a layer mask to the group (Layer > Layer Mask > Hide All). Now you’ll see that the two layers have disappeared. Hold the Ctrl and Shift key and click on each of the two layers thumbnails. By doing this you will make a selection of the two layers. Release Ctrl and Shift key and press D to set default colors. Click once on the group’s layer mask and press Alt + Backspace to fill the selection with white. Name the group “Texture”.


Step 6

Open the file “Sand Texture”. Select all (Ctrl + A) and copy (Ctrl + C). Go back to our document and paste (Ctrl + V). Convert the pasted layer into a Smart Object (right click on the layer in the layer palette and from the drop down menu choose Convert To Smart Object) and put the layer inside the group we created at step 5. Resize the texture layer as shown below.


Step 7

Duplicate the texture layer (Ctrl + J) and move it to the right side.


Step 8

Open the file “Sand Texture2” and copy/paste into our scene. Desaturate the layer (Image > Adjustments > Desaturate) and convert the layer into a smart object and position it as shown below. Change the blending mode to Soft Light. This will give our ground texture a bit more variation.


Step 9

Create a new layer and choose the standard round soft brush. Lower the opacity to 10% and paint with black on the margins of the ground. Create another layer and paste some more shadow on the left side of the ground.


Step 10

Create a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer (you can find all the adjustment layers in Layer > New Adjustment Layer > …..) with the settings shown below and place it inside the “Texture” group.


Step 11

Create a Photo Filter Adjustment layer and use a Warming Filter preset to warm up the ground and place it inside the “Texture” group.


Step 12

Create a new layer and select the standard chalk brush. Lower the size to 2px and the opacity to 50%. Paint some straight white lines on the corners as shown below. In order to paint straight lines click where you want the line to begin and then Shift-click where you want the line to end.


Step 13

Create a new layer and choose the standard chalk brush. Lower the opacity to 50% and the size to 10px and with a dark muddy brown (#73634e) paint some dirt on the corner indicated below.


Step 14

Create a new layer and change the blending mode to Overlay. Lower the opacity to 56%. Choose the standard round soft brush and lower the opacity of the brush to 10%. Paint with white over the corner to give it a bit more volume.


Step 15

Create a Curves Adjustment layer and use the settings shown below to increase the contrast. Place the curves layer in the “Texture” group.


Step 16

The intensity of the ground is a bit too much so let’s tone it down. Create a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer and lower the saturation to -19.


Step 17

Open the file “Cracks”. Select the black cracks ( Select > Color Range and click anywhere on the white area. Press Ok to exit the color range window and press Ctrl + Shift + I to invert the selection) and copy/paste them into our scene. Place the cracks layer on the right side of the ground. Duplicate the cracks layer (Ctrl + J) and move it to cover the left side too.


Step 18

Group the two cracks layer together (Shift-click on each and press Ctrl + G) and add a layer mask to the group (Layer > Layer Mask > Reveal All). Now paint with a black brush in the layer mask to hide the unwanted cracks – you should have something like the image below after you’re done.


Step 19

Open the file “Skeleton”. Select all and copy paste in our document. Place the skeleton as shown below and don’t forget to convert it into a smart object.


Step 20

Right click the skeleton layer and choose Blending Options from the drop down menu. Use the settings shown below to make the skeleton look like he’s belonging to the ground.


Step 21

With the standard Chalk brush paint some crumbs around the ground as shown below.


Step 22

Double click the crumbs layer and use the settings shown below to give the crumbs more volume and a 3D look.


Step 23

With the same chalk brush paint with black some subtle details on a new layer over the crumbs.


Step 24

Group all the layers related to the ground together and name the layer “Ground”. Add a layer mask to the group (Layer > Layer Mask > Reveal All) and use the standard chalk brush to nip here and there (paint with black in the layer mask) in order to break the boring straight lines of the ground.


Step 25

Create a new layer and choose the standard round soft brush. Increase the size to 200px and lower the opacity to 50%. Move this layer below the “Ground” layer in the layer palette and paint some shadow as shown below.


Step 26

Open the file “Underwater1”. Select all and copy/paste in our document. Convert the layer into a smart object and place the underwater as shown below.


Step 27

Click on the underwater layer in the layer palette and press Ctrl + G to add it to a group. Add a layer mask to the group (Layer > Layer Mask > Hide All) and use the Pen Tool to create a path as indicated in the layer below. Press Ctrl + Enter to convert the path into a selection.


Step 28

Press D to set the colors to default and while in the layer mask of the group press Alt + Backspace to fill the selection with white and thus reveal the underwater inside the selection. Press Ctrl + D to deselect.


Step 29

Open the file “Underwater2”. Select all and copy paste into our underwater group. Change the blending mode to Soft Light.


Step 30

Open the file “Bubbles”. Select all and copy/paste in our underwater group. Change the blending mode to Overlay.


Step 31

Create a new Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer and place it inside the underwater group. Change the Hue to -22 to change the hue of the water to a more pleasant one.


Step 32

Open the file “Water Surface”. Select all and copy paste in our scene. Desaturate the layer (Image > Adjustments > Desaturate) and convert it to a smart object. Place the water surface as shown below.


Step 33

Click on the surface layer in the layer palette and press Ctrl + G to add it to a group. Add a layer mask to the group and using the same techniques we used at steps 27 and 28 to reveal the surface only where it should be as shown below. Name the group Surface.


Step 34

Create a new layer and place it inside the Surface group. Set a nice blue as foreground color (#468ff2) and press Alt + Backspace to fill the layer with that color. Change the blending mode of the layer to Color.


Step 35

Create a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer and place it inside the Surface layer. Change the hue to -14.


Step 36

Create a new layer and change the blending mode to Overlay. With the standard round soft brush at 10% Opacity paint some white shading in the middle of the surface.


Step 37

Use the Pen Tool to create a selection as shown below. Create a new layer (or more) and change their blending modes to Overlay for lighten effects and Multiply for darkening effects. Paint with the round soft brush very subtly with white in the center of the selection and with black on the margins of the selection.


Step 38

Do the same thing for the left side of the water. As you can see I am using multiple layers for flexibility.


Step 39

Create a new layer and draw a vertical line right over the corner of the water with the standard chalk brush (2px size). Lower the opacity to 49%. As you remember from previous steps you can either click on the start point with chalk brush and Shift-click on the end point of the desired line.


Step 40

Create a new layer and with the round soft brush paint with a dark blue some squiggly lines where the water waves meet the underwater texture to create some dynamism. After that paint other squiggly lines over the blue ones but this time use white.


Step 41

Now it’s time to populate the underwater with some objects. Open the “Plant” file and copy all. Go back to our document and paste. Convert the layer into a smart object and place it somewhere on the bottom of the water. Lower the opacity to 5%. Do the same for all the following objects by opening these various files: Fish, Diver, Shark. Vary the opacities between 10% and 20%.


Step 42

Open the file “Boat”. Select all and copy/paste in our scene. Place the boat on the surface of the water and use a layer mask to hide a little portion of the bottom.


Step 43

Create a new Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer and lower the saturation to -46. Hold the Alt key and click between the hue and the boat layer. This will clip the hue layer to the boat layer – what it means in layman terms is that that the hue layer effects will be applied only to the boat.


Step 44

Create a Curves Adjustment Layer and drag the black slider to the right to increase the contrast. Clip this layer to the boat layer (Alt-click between the curves and the hue saturation layer).


Step 45

Create a new layer and clip it to the curves layer below. Change the blending mode to Overlay and lower the opacity to 73%. Use the standard round soft brush at 10% Opacity to paint some highlights on the boat as indicated below.


Step 46

Create a new layer and select the standard chalk brush. Lower the size to 2px and the opacity to 30%. Paint some squiggly lines where the boat meets the surface of the water to simulate waves crushing into the boat.


Step 47

Open the file “Fisherman”. Use the Pen Tool to make a selection of the fisherman and his fishing road. Copy/paste the fisherman in our scene and place him in the boat near the front. Use a layer mask if you need to hide his legs and don’t forget to convert the fisherman before resizing to a smart object.


Step 48

Create a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer and lower the Saturation to -84. Clip this layer to the fisherman layer (Alt-click between the two).


Step 49

Create a new layer and clip it to the fisherman layer. Use the round soft brush tool to paint with black on his back areas and with white on his front areas. Clip this layer to the fisherman layer.


Step 50

Create a new Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer and clip it to the fisherman. Use the settings shown below to change the hue of the fisherman to a warm red.


Step 51

Create a new layer and use the chalk brush to create a straight vertical black line from the tip of the fishing road going all the way underwater. You can hold shift while dragging the brush vertically to restrict it’s movement. Add a layer mask to this layer and with a black brush at 50% opacity paint in the layer mask to partially hide the underwater portion of the rod line.


Step 52

Group all the water related layers and name the group Water. Add a layer mask to this group and hide randomly the bottom area to make it look more natural.


Step 53

Create a couple of new layers and change their blending modes to Overlay and Color Dodge. Paint on each with a very thin round white soft brush (2px) where the ground meets the underwater.


Step 54

Open the file “Birds”. Select all and copy paste in our scene. Place the birds as indicated below. As you can see this simple addition already makes the scene look more believable.


Step 55

Create a new layer and import the cloud brushes (Edit > Presets > Preset Manager or double click the .abr file). Use one of the cloud brushes to create a white cloud above the fisherman.


Step 56

Create a new layer and paint an island with a nice red brown color. Also paint the waves crushing into the island and if it is too desaturated you can add some Curves or Hue/Saturation Adjustment layers.


Step 57

Open the file “Palm”. Select all and copy/paste in our scene. Place the palm on the island and paint some shadow on an underneath layer. Clip a Curves Adjustment Layer to the palm in order to make it look greener.


Step 58

Create a new layer and paint some rope connecting the boat to the palm with the standard black chalk brush.


Step 59

Press Ctrl + Shift + Alt + E to make a new layer from all the visible layers and apply a 20px Gaussian Blur (Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur). Change the blending mode of the layer to Soft Light and lower the Opacity to 39%. This will slightly increase the contrast and give our scene a dreamy look.


Step 60

Open the file “Nebula”. Select all and copy paste in our scene. Change the blending mode of the nebula to Soft Light and lower the Opacity to 39%. Add a layer mask and hide some of the middle nebula effect.


Final Results










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