Create an Underwater Scene of a Giant Goldfish in Photoshop

Create an Underwater Scene of a Giant Goldfish in Photoshop
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Step 21

In this step we will create the caustic reflection of water on the bottom of the sea. First create a new layer (Ctrl + Shift + Alt + N) and choose Filter > Render > Clouds. Make sure you have default colors set (press D to set default colors).
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Step 22

With the same layer selected choose Filter > Render > Difference Clouds. This step will give us this interesting effect shown below.
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Step 23

Press Ctrl + I to invert the colors because we want our underwater reflection to be white.
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Step 24

Let’s increase the contrast a bit and make the caustic water reflection more pronounced. Add a Curves adjustment by choosing Image > Adjustments > Curves and drag the left slider towards the center.
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Step 25

As you can see in the image below the effect looks much cleaner. This image could also be used to create Lightning effects. If you want to create Lighting effects in your other projects simply change the layer blend mode to Screen and the black parts will disappear leaving you with a nice Lightning effect. After that simply add a layer mask and hide the unwanted parts. But let’s continue with our underwater scene and proceed to the next step.
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Step 25

Change the layer blend mode to Soft Light and press Ctr + T to enter Free Transform. Resize and position this layer like shown below and press Enter after your finished. Starts to look better and better, ehh?
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Step 26

Add a layer mask (Layer > Layer Mask > Reveal All) and with a black round soft brush at 80% Opacity gently mask away the upper edges to make the reflection fade away in the distance and blend it seamlessly with the scene. Remember, in scenes where you want to achieve realism hard edges are your enemy, especially if you are doing nature scenes.
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Step 27

Open file “Fish” and using your favorite selection tool make a selection of the fish. Copy and paste this selection into our document. Position the fish like show below and using layer mask or the Eraser Tool at 50% Opacity partially erase the tail and the upper membrane. Fish membranes are usually semitransparent so this step will bake the fish blend with the scene better.
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Step 28

Duplicate the “Fish” layer and Ctrl-click on the layer to make a selection. Fill this selection with black and press Ctrl + D to deselect. Apply a Motion blur to this layer to mimic the shadow below the fish.
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Step 29

Change the blend mode of this layer to Multiply and lower the Opacity to 56%. Add a layer mask and erase all the unnecessary parts (the areas above the fish) by painting with a round soft black brush tool at 100% Opacity.
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Step 30

In our scene the light is coming from the upper left side so let’s add some lights and shadows to our fish to make him integrate into the scene. We will add some darkness first. Add a Curves Adjustment Layer and modify the curve like shown below.
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Step 31

Add another Curves adjustment layer and modify the curve like in the image below. This will further darken the scene.
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Step 32

Now for the lightness part add a Curves Adjustment layer but this time drag the curve upwards to lighten the scene.
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Step 33

Now that we have the lightness and darkness layers created simply fill all their layer masks with black. Next select a round soft white brush at 80-100% Opacity and start painting in the layer mask to reveal the desired effects. Paint with white in the layer mask of Lighten layer to add light to the scene and paint with black in the layer mask of Darken1 or Darken 2 to add darkness to the scene. This step it is more about experimenting and trusting your inner artistic eye than about precise adjustments. You can see the results I achieved below but don’t worry if you don’t have the same result. Just keep on experimenting until you achieve the effect you desire.

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25 comments on “Create an Underwater Scene of a Giant Goldfish in Photoshop”

  1. Either I'm blind and don't see what happened to the "ripples" layers after Step 25 or there are steps missing. There's no way they go from the jagged-edged difference render to smooth realistic ripples by just blending the edge in with a brush. Clearly there is more manipulation needed to make that layer looks like it does in Step 26.

  2. What's the point of having the already-completed project available for download? I can't access DeviantArt and would love it if the zip file just contained the images and brushes so that I can actually DO the project. Thanks

  3. TRYING to learn the basics, here bro.

    The eye was not hidden. I know to check that much.

    An explanation WHY something works is how a lot of people learn, not just me. I wasn't complaining or blaming, just wishing there was more to it.

  4. I wish you could say WHY certain things are done (so I can understand when I might need to use them in the future) and so I can understand what the outcome is supposed to look like.

    For instance... I don't understand why we need a layer mask in Step 18 and why we are painting in white over the top of it...

    Since it doesn't seem to want to let me do it as stated (I get an error, "Could not use the brush tool because the target layer is hidden"), I have no idea what the outcome is supposed to be and can't figure out how to get to the next step without just skipping Step 18.

    1. your fault for not knowing the basics. Dont blame the tutorial bro. You can't paint because your layer is hidden. Click on the EYE icon. Layer mask is like a mask to show\hide what is visible on the layer.

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