By Lauren Harmon | Tuesday, April 09, 2013
Learn how to create realistic beaded water droplets and composite them on top of a background photo in Adobe Photoshop with this week’s Deke’s Techniques. The crux of the technique is a simple black and white, almost ink-blot-like pattern, which Deke creates from scratch with a combination of Photoshop filters and adjustment layers. No drawing required! To this pattern you can add styles that transform it into spilled water, ink, soda, or any other liquid.
Follow along with Deke in this week’s free video and use the companion text below to help with each step.
Choose Image > Canvas Size. Check the Relative check box and change the Width to 100 pixels and the Height to 100 pixels to expand your image area or canvas 50 pixels in each direction (left, right, up, and down). Click OK.
The transparency grid you can see around the edges of the image represents the extra space.
Make sure your grayness layer is selected and then go to the Layer panel flyout menu. Choose Convert to Smart Object.
Converting your layer to a Smart Object will allow you to apply the necessary filters nondestructively.
Note: This setting determines the size of your pattern’s droplets and you can change it at any time by double-clicking the Gaussian Blur Smart Filter in your Layers panel.
Adding the Alt or Option key inserts the adjustment on a brand-new layer, as indicated by the New Layer dialog box. Rename your layer dropmaker and turn on Use Previous Layer to Create Clipping Mask. Click OK.
Because this is a random effect, the pattern is going to come out a little bit differently for everyone. Your canvas may not look exactly like Deke’s at this point.
Choose Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur again. Dial in a Radius of 6 pixels and click OK.
Your image is going to become very soft and blurry at this point. Time to reinstate some hard edges.
In the Properties panel, change the first Levels value (your black point) to 120 and change the third value (your white point) to 145. Now hide the panel.
Go to the Channels panel and Cmd-click (Mac) or Ctrl-click (Windows) the RGB channel to load the white areas of your pattern as a selection.
Return to the Layers panel. Select your sharper, blur, dropmaker, and grayness layers and choose New Group from Layers from the panel flyout menu. Name the group intermediate. Finally, turn off the visibility of that group by clicking the eye icon.
Now you should see the “marching ants,” or an animated border, around your selection.
Create a new layer and name it drops.
Tap the D key to load the default foreground (black) and background (white) colors. Now press Option+Delete (Mac) or Alt+Backspace (Windows) to fill your selection with black.
Now you’ll apply the styles that come with the exercise file Deke has created for this tutorial, accessible from the lynda.com library.
Choose the Clear style to instantly apply a clear liquid effect, with a slightly transparent fill and reflective highlights. Deke built this style by combining effects like Bevel & Emboss, Inner Shadow, Color Overlay, and Drop Shadow.
And that is how you create a droplet pattern from scratch in Photoshop. If you have access to the exercise files, make sure to check out some of the other styles Deke included, such as Lemonade, Orange soda, Black ink, and even Radiator coolant.
If you’re a member of the lynda.com library, Deke has two follow-up videos ready and waiting. In the first, he shows you how to add high-contrast reflections. In the second, he shows you how to distort the background texture that appears underneath the droplets, as it would refract through real water.
In the next free video, Deke shows how to transform paint splatter into ink or even something more sinister like blood. Stay tuned!
Interested in more?
• Start a 7-day free trial of lynda.com today
• The entire Deke’s Techniques collection
• Photoshop CS6 One-on-One: Intermediate
• Illustrator CS6 One-on-One: Intermediate
• Start your 7-day free trial to lynda.com today
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