In this tutorial, we will learn how to create natural looking water drops using Photoshop CS5.
1. Open a picture on which you want to place water droplets. I am going to use the Chrysanthemum picture which comes with Windows 7 OS.
2. Create a new layer using the ‘New Layer’ icon in the Layers Panel. Rename it as ‘Drop 1’.
Then click on the Rectangular Marquee Tool and hold down for a moment for the fly out menu. Choose the Elliptical Marquee Tool from the list or key in the shortcut (M). Then make a selection on the picture, where you want the water drop. The ellipse need not be a perfect circle, it should look natural.
3. Next we will fill it with a black-white gradient. Make sure your foreground color is set to black and the background color is white. Then choose the gradient tool from the Toolbox and drag it across the elliptical marquee selection to define the angle of the gradient. You can experiment with the angle of the gradient depending upon the source of light in the picture.
4. Now we will add transparency to the drop. With the ‘Drop 1’ layer selected, set the Blending mode to ‘Overlay’.
5. We will add some effect to this drop. Double click on the layer ‘Drop 1’ in the Layers panel. In the ‘Layer Style’ window add following effects:
a. Drop shadow: Choose a darker shade of the picture. For instance in this example, I have chosen a dark red. Experiment with the other settings.
b. Inner shadow: Choose a darker shade of the picture. It could be same as the shade used for Drop shadow. Experiment with the other settings.
6. Our water drop is almost ready and we will add a highlight to finish it. Create a new layer and rename it as ‘Highlight’. Then using the Eyedropper Tool (I), choose the lightest shade in the picture. Then using the brush tool with a size of 7, draw a small highlight at the top of the drop. (See image below)
7. Doesn’t this look natural. To give even more real effect, we will duplicate the layer ‘Drop 1’. See the difference.
8. Now you have 3 layers creating one drop. If you want to create similar multiple drops, you cannot duplicate each and every layer and try remembering which one does what. Since ‘Merge layers’ will not work, we will group these layers into a group. This will make it easier to manage and when you want to create a new drop, just drag and drop the group on to the ‘New Layer’ icon in the Layers Panel.
9. Now that we have learnt how to create basic water drops in Photoshop. You can create more such drops by duplicating this layer. Since all the water drops are not even in size and shape, we will have to tweak them. Lets see how.
Duplicate the layer ‘Drop 1’ and with the layer selected in the Layers Panel, move the drop to another appropriate place on the picture. To tweak the drop follow either of these methods:
a. Edit > Free Transform (Ctrl + T) and resize the shape.
b. Filters > Distort Wave. The wave filter creates a natural effect. If you are not happy with the effect, repeat the same filter (Ctrl + F) several times until you get what you like.
NOTE: You will not be allowed to use filters on the the group. Filters can be applied only to layers, so you will need to apply wave filter to individual layers. But the effect is amazing as you can see.
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About the Author: Minal is a freelance web and graphics designer. She specializes in designing Logos, Stationery, Graphics and Icons as well as website templates using graphical tools like Photoshop, Illustrator and Expression Web. Twitter @saffronstroke