Have you downloaded the CSUAC yet? If not you probably will want to do that. You'll have a pretty vast library in no time at all.
You may need to register first, but here's the link:
I'm getting an inversion optical illusion from the beveling/map bumping. I think there is too much now and the map is a bit jarring. If it could be softened just a bit it might work. I'm not too keen on the doors though. It might be the doors themselves that I don't like though.
I fiddled with the layer blending modes a little - adding a top layer of water as a lighten only layer and did a bit of messing with a layer mask to make the water shallower towards the edge. I'm not particularly chuffed with the result - but see what you think:
I like the idea of using the lava filter for water. Good lateral thinking there :)
I was reaching for something when I tried the lava filter. Perhaps I shouldn't paint myself as so hopeless, but the truth is the truth. I was looking for anything to make it look better than the blue featureless blob I had there. Seemed to work well.
I want to take an aside and thank you all for your suggestions and examples. While I might choose to go my own way for this project, everything posted has given me fodder to use in future projects.
If the doors had the same drop shadow as the walls I think they would blend in better and not feel like they are floating.
Yes, of course.
1. Hide all the water layers apart from 1 (you may need to turn the opacity up to 100% again to be able to see what you're doing properly)
2. Right click the water layer->Add layer mask.
3. Accept the default of Fill with White.
4. Now pick the airbrush tool and a large fuzzy brush. It's actually probably worth scaling the brush up in this case using the Scale slider. You really want the brush size to be large enough that it's as wide as the area you want to fade out, or thereabouts.
5. Now make sure you have the layer mask rather than the layer itself selected, and that the brush colour is set to black. Now gently paint along the shallow edge of the water. You'll see the colour fade and the transparency come up. If you go too far, just switch the colour of the brush from black to white and go back over it. It's also worth taking the smudge tool to the mask to smooth out any hard edges.
6. Once you are happy, you can duplicate the whole layer - colour and mask - and alter the layer modes of each layer in the stack until you get something you like.
While I was waiting, I tried out a different technique. It gives the impression of a shelf leading to a deep drop off. With a little bit of creative layer ordering, I got rid of that background that was in the left corner of the pool too.
I've got to say that learning a program has never been this fun! When I played around with CC2 it was a collection of frustration and let downs. With GIMP, I'm actually learning as I go and (to me) things are starting to look better each time I play around in the program.
Just for fun, I'm going to play around with the method you described. See what I can come up with.