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Water Effects

Lesson 9 from: Creating a Cinematic Campaign with Special Effects

Lisa Carney

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Lesson Info

9. Water Effects

Lesson Info

Water Effects

All right, so I'm just gonna talk about some different water techniques, and um I got to tell you, sometimes it's really simple and it's really not that much stuff. For example, on this uh magazine cover for Outside magazine, they shot the guy underwater. I mean, all right, that's pretty easy. They shot him underwater, and we had to make some contrast adjustments, and we had to strip in a bunch of debris, but there's nothing to it. There's a stock shot, there's color but, but, but, but one of the things I don't think people think to do is add the stock shot of the reflections. Look at the top of the piece where the water is, where you can see the sky. That's the kind of stock stuff you want to start gathering. Do you know you can actually, I will be careful how I advocate this, put your cellphone in a waterproof device, and you can shoot this in a sink. You can shoot this in a pool. You can put it, your phone, in a body of water and get these kinds of refractions, and then start saving...

them. And then you will have it. You don't have to go through all this regimal role. The bubbles are just a brush or a channel pole. This happens to be a channel pole and light rays. So let me um, I think I might uncork this file for a minute. Ya, I have some time. We can talk about this. Is it helpful to actually see the file. Ya, good okay. Good, good, good. Let me open the right right folder. Fire, flames, flood. We have everything. All right. This file's a little big, and it's got some badly named layers. Whenever possible, I do like to show the real stuff, so forgive me for showing you all this sausage making, but I just think it's handy. So when I was telling you about the stock for the top. This is what I meant. I'm gonna drag the option key down. That's the kind of stuff you want. This is the kind of thing that makes a picture. It's just a refraction, and you just need a piece of it. No big deal. And that is on normal mode believe it or not. It's on normal mode cause it's all part of the part of the water. The other thing are the rays. I'm so embarrassed how this is labeled. I was less militant back there. The light rays I'm gonna put a layer of black underneath here just so you can see this. The light rays are literally painted light. Got to make sure I'm doing this in the right order. So how do you paint light rays? Can I just do this for a second? Can I just make a black layer? I'm gonna delete everything else. I'm gonna go to my brushes. So do you remember that um, do you remember that dust brush I have, that's so amazing that it did a fog for X-men? I have a ray brush. Kind of sounds like a ray gun. It's such a low opacity that you can't see it. Sorry. It's set at a really low opacity cause I use this pretty subtly. I have a brush that makes light rays. So I have a whole library of these kind of things. You can make this by the way. I call it a stamp brush, so it's a brush just meant to stamp. It's not meant to be pulled, and I have a whole hard drive full of images that I've taken. Pictures of that I've made, and that like I've either created or whatnot, and I save them in a brush catalog. And there's a catalog called Stamps, and inside that I have things like that, and when I have a job I go ohh, I need my brush catalog and I save it. You can also save this on the cloud. Now of course it's actually in here as well, and that file I want to talk about some production technique issues right now. That brush is pixels big, so on this water sample, that was a little small. Did you see how small it was when I first used it? If this image, this is a production conversation we're about to have right now. If this image was let's say half the size, and I took that same brush, and I used it, it's much bigger now. Here, I'm just gonna make this a little more demoy. And I'm telling you this for a reason for when you spilled your libraries. So it's bigger in this one. Build your brush sizes big, like this brush was built probably four times too small. I built it for a very specific job, and it's really small. Next time I build this brush, I'm building a big brush. I could always make it bigger, but it's a pixel brush. That means the pixels are going to degrade the bigger I get, it gets. Do you understand what I saying? So when you make your brushes in your library, make them big. All right, let me move on. All right, so sometimes what we do to make our images have the look that they need are so minimal. So what I mean by that is, okay, the base of this on the lower half of this composition, there's some stock bubbles. It's nothing exciting. The top of the water is the stock shot you see there on the um second one down. Then the opacity is just a bunch of blurred paint. It's nothing, it's just paint blurred. But it gives that opaque nature to kind of thick dirty water, but the thing I really want to show you is the water line. The water line is just a white brush. It's nothing. No special brush, no nothing. Just white, a regular brush, and you just draw a little line . That's all you do. That's what the water is, so I'm going to show you that real quick. I'm just amazed sometimes how easy it can be to make something feel like water. Again, viewing distance and whatnot. Look, that's just that blob I showed you, and I did have a level move on it. I ended up making it darker. So the original blob I made was light, and then as I was printing it, I went oh, it needs to get a little darker, but maybe it wants to be a little lighter. The water line, you guys, it's nothing. It's literally white paint. Let me put a black layer underneath it. Let me put a less opaque black one. It's all that is. It's just white paint. So sometimes I feel like when you oh it's kind of cool, um when you guys are creating your artwork I think sometimes we overthink it. I think I overthink it. What I mean by that is when I was working on this, I was looking forever for a white line that I liked on stock, and I was trying to work and then there like I'm embarrassed to say this. About an hour into it, I went what the hell, just get the pen out and draw it. And once I did that, I was like ohh, okay it's all fine. Just draw it. You don't always have to find something.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Cinematic Effects Presentation & Notes
Cloud Brush
Dust Brush
Light Ray Brush

Ratings and Reviews


Watching Lisa work her creative magic is so fun! This was such an incredible class, I can't wait to watch it over and over again while I practice using the tools and techniques that are covered. It's enough to make me want to move away from portrait work and into creative commercial art. Such an awesome class!


Lisa is a great teacher! She does move quickly, but I have found her instruction to be very precise, and focus. So I think the time she spends on each topic is very efficient, and thoroughly covered. I love her teaching style. Thank for for another great course Lisa!


There are so many ways to accomplish the same thing in Photoshop. But I always love to learn new ways. This is a great class if you are already comfortable with Photoshop. It is not a beginner class.

Student Work