View Full Version : Quick and Easy underwater effect

05-30-2011, 08:57 AM
I don't know how interesting or useful this would be to anyone but when working on the april comp I found a quick and simple way of creating an underwater effect for maps, thought I might share. I have provided five pics to show what you should have as the effects are applied, can provide screenshots of settings and such if people need them. I did this in Photoshop CS3 so it should work in anything more recent.

Step 1 (Pic 1) - Create a map like you would at any other time. Then place ALL layers of the that map into a single group. Duplicate this group and rename the group "Water Base", now right click on the group and select "Merge Group". You can hide the original group to free up processing speed as you won't need them after this point.

Step 2 (Pic 2) - With the Water Base layer selected go down to the bottom and click "Create New Adjustment Layer" and select colour balance. Move the top slider all the way to the left towards Cyan and move the bottom layer all the way to the right towards Blue or set the Colour Levels to -100, 0, 100. Now go back to the water base layer and add another adjustment layer, this time Brightness/Contrast. Set it to -75 brightness and 75 contrast. Merge the three layers.

Step 3 (Pic 3) - Create a new layer and name it "Water overlay". With black and white as the default colours go Filters > Render > Clouds. With that layer still selected go to Filter > Artistic > Plastic Wrap. Set the settings to Highlight strength 15, Detail 5, Smoothness 15. The clouds should now look sort of like Pic 3.

Step 4 (Pic 4) - Simply set the Water Overlay layer to overlay

Step 5 (Pic 5) - This step is completely optional and is just something I do to add some more dynamic lighting. Select the Water Overlay layer and go Filter > Render > Lighting Effects. Using the default settings adjust the circle so that light is pouring in from the direction of your choice (top right for me) and make it so there is only a suggestion of shadow on the two adjacent corners.

Voila, done :) Hope someone finds this interesting.

NOTE: Using this effect most reds and browns will be drowned out so either add them post-effect or make them bright or else they'll turn black or grey.


05-30-2011, 09:31 AM
nice... maybe you should change your name to loneswimmerD now :)

05-30-2011, 09:33 AM
Nah, I'll always be the water. I actually think it's about time to get out of the water, getting very cold...


05-30-2011, 10:12 AM
Great little tute. I'd done this in Gimp before but never figured out the steps to reproduce it in PS. Thanks! Repped and rated.

05-30-2011, 10:12 AM
That is really good. I'm going to try this with GIMP and see if I can translate it. Thanks for putting this together. :)

*EDIT* Torstan beat me to it :)

06-01-2011, 02:25 PM
You know D, you always come through with amazing ideas... I decided to just toy with your use of plastic wrap, took me a whole 15 min to put this simple thing together. I realize this isn't an underwater map, but the technique is what matters if you ask me!

I used step 3, and then used difference clouds 7 times, copied the clouds layer before the plastic wrap filter. Then used the plastic wrapped layer as a Lighting Effects with the setting that come from Jezelf's Distant Mountains Tutorial, on a layer filled with grass, and then again with another with just plain brown color... Used the brown as my mountains, the grass one as my hills, and a plain grass layer for the flat areas around the water.... Pretty simple, thanks D!

I also realize that this same thing can be used for those atlas/political styled maps I've seen lately, where it just has the hint of mountains on the pale brown/red colored land... Just throwing it out there :P

06-04-2011, 04:42 AM
nice tutorial, btw for those who didn't know, there is an option in PS to do an underwater filter to get the right colors: Image > Adjustments > Photo Filter > Select "Underwater filter". cheers, DJ

06-04-2011, 06:50 AM
Yeah, I tried that filter but I didn't really get the colour that I wanted, it was abit too subtle.