Chrissy's Water Ripple Photoshop Tutorial

This tutorial can help you create some very realistic water for your projects. You can use two different styles for a swirl or pond ripples. Don't spaz that you're looking at a top view; I can show you how to turn the water into a perspective view!


Step One:

Use the Gradient Tool to fill in your background. If you can't find the gradient tool in your tool bar it's because it's hidden behind the paint bucket. Click and hold on the paint bucket to bring up a mini tool list where you can select the gradient tool. Make sure to use black and white for this. It doesn't matter how you angle the gradient.

Step Two:

Turn the gradient into a swirl like the ones you'll see going down a drain. Go to Filter > Distort > Twirl and pull the angle slider to either side to create a swirl.

Step Three:

Now you'll want to make the swirling smoke look like swirling water instead. Go to Filter > Sketch > Chrome to add the liquid look. The detail and smoothness are all up to you. Adjust them as you see fit.

Step Four:

Now you'll want to add some color to really make it look like water. Go to Image > Adjustments > Color Balance and adjust them as you see fit.


Step One:

This time you want those water ripples! Use the Gradient Tool again to fill in your background. Make sure to use black and white for this version as well.

Step Two:

Unlike the swirl, you'll need render clouds for the ripples. Go to Filter > Render > Difference Clouds to fill the area with clouds.

Step Three:

You'll want to spin those clouds to make the ripples of course so go to Filter > Blur > Radial Blur and set it to 50, Spin, Best Quality.

Now your image should look like an arial shot of a hurricane or tropical storm. Hmmm ... Ideas?

Step Four:

Now you'll want to add some shaded areas for the next step to base itself on. This time go to Filter > Sketch > Bas Relief and set the detail to 15 and the smoothness to 2. You can adjust those settings as you see fit.

Step Five:

Now go to Filter > Sketch > Chrome and pick the detail and smoothness that you like best. Since you get a mini preview while you select the settings, it shouldn't be too hard for you to decide what looks best.

Step Six:

Once again use the color balance to choose the colors you like to make the water look realistic.

Why do I suddenly want a drink of cold water?

Alternative Step Seven:

Of course you might not always have use of a top view of your water ripples (or swirl) and you want it to be a perspective view. No problem! The easy way to turn this into a perspective view of the water top is to go to Edit > Transform > Skew and pull the top right and left boxes inward. Then pull the bottom right and left boxes outward.

Alternative Step Eight:

If you leave the top right and left boxes in place on the edge of the screen and just pull the bottom right and left boxes far off screen you can actually place the water ripples in a realistic position. Then you can scale it by height to make the water take up half the screen. Add a background and you have a real body of water.

Any color!

Since you're completely in charge of what you create ... who says it has to be blue water anyway? It can be red blood, a purple love potion, green slime, and even yellow ............. Lemonaid! ... yeah ... Heehee! Overall have fun with my tutorials and use them to create great artwork.