photoshop creative

How to create an underwater scene, part 2

Posted in:
Tips & Tutorials, by Mark White
October 31, 2013

Continued…Learn to edit with filters and blend modes inside Photoshop to submerge a room under water, swimmer included!

Download all the files you need for this tutorial here

Follow part 1 of this tutorial


Open the image ‘desert.jpg’ (stock photo by Marcus J Ranum) and flip it Horizontally. Hit Ctrl/Cmd+ L to open the Curves dialog and adjust the graph to Input levels 51, 0.70 and 225. Now using the Free Transform tool, grab the edges and adjust the image. Again try to follow the floor perspective to adjust the layer correctly and change the blend mode to Multiply.


Open ‘woman.jpg’ (stock photo by Marcus J Ranum) in Photoshop. Now use the Magic Wand tool, change the Tolerance to 20 and tick the Contiguous box. Hold the Shift key and start deleting the grey background. When you are done, invert the selection using Shift+Ctrl/Cmd+I, cut out the woman and copy and paste (Ctrl/Cmd+C then Ctrl/Cmd+V) her onto the background using Transform (Ctrl/Cmd+T) to scale her into place.


Start with the Smudge tool to blend the hair. Create another layer and press F5 to open the Brush palette, select a very small soft brush and, holding the Alt/Opt key, get some colour samples from the hair and start drawing. After you finished, merge the hair and woman layers, open the Hue/Saturation dialog, lower the Saturation to -45 and apply a Gaussian Blur with a Radius of 1.0px.


Hold Ctrl/Cmd and click on the woman thumbnail to select the layer then add a layer mask. Now, select the mask thumbnail and repeat the actions from step 8. Go to Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur and try a Radius of 10px to get a nice soft edge around the woman then click OK.


Select the woman’s layer and press Ctrl/Cmd+B to open the Color Balance dialog. Leave the Tone Balance set to Midtones, click on Preserve and change the Color Levels to -24, 0 and -2. Create another layer above and fill the selection with colour #29a5aa, change to Overlay and lower the layer Opacity to 70%. You can use the Dodge and Burn tools to improve the woman’s shadow and the brightness. Merge all the layers to do with the swimming woman by selecting them in the Layers palette and Ctrl/right-clicking and choosing Merge Layers. This will come in handy if you want to move, rescale or transform the woman separately later on.


You can use the default brush to create small bubbles around the woman, just click F5 to open the Brush palette, click and change the values on the Shape Dynamics, Scattering and the Other Dynamics to Pen Pressure, start drawing the bubbles, vary the brush size and lower the layer opacity. We decided that the swimmer might look better facing the other direction. You can change this by selecting the woman’s merged layer, and clicking Edit>Transform>Flip Horizontal.


We’re almost there, but a few lighting effects will give our artwork extra oomph. Create another layer and fill with grey using the Paint Bucket tool. Go to Filter>Render>Lighting Effects, choose Light type: Spotlight, turn the light source to the right side and apply the effect. Now create another layer and fill that one with colour #074e54 and change the blend mode to Soft Light. Those final two effects have added some depth to your image.