Create an Underwater Scene of a Giant Goldfish in Photoshop

Create a new document 2150x4187px.


Step 2

Open file “Sky” and select all (Ctrl + A). Copy all (Ctrl + C) and paste into our document (Ctrl + V). Press Ctrl + T to Free Transform and position the document like shown below.


Step 3

Open file “Sky” and using the Elliptical Marquee Tool make a selection of the moon.


Step 4

Copy and paste it into our document. Press Ctrl + T to Free Transform the moon like in the image below. Change the layer blend mode to Overlay.


Step 5

Double-click the moon layer to enter Advanced Blending options and add the following styles to make the moon look more realistic.


Step 6

Duplicate the moon layer by pressing Ctrl + J and Ctrl-click on the layer to make a selection of the moon. Fill this selection with black (with black as foreground color press Alt + Backspace) and apply a 250px Gaussian Blur. Change the layer blend mode to Multiply and lower the Opacity to 23%.


Step 7

Add a Curves Adjustment layer and change the Blue and Red channel as shown below. This step will add a nice blue hue to the image.


Step 8

In this step we will create the rainbow. Create a new layer and using the Rectangular Marquee Tool create a selection like shown below.


Step 9

Select the Gradient Tool (G) and in the upper toolbar double-click to open the gradient editor.


Step 10

To replicate a rainbow colors add the following colors in the gradient editor: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, magenta. When you are finished press OK.


Step 11

Hold Shift and drag with the Gradient Tool in the selection you created at step 8. Press Ctrl + D to deselect and proceed to next step.


Step 12

Use the Eraser tool to erase the margins of the gradient and apply a 20px Gaussian Blur.


Step 13

With the rainbow layer selected press Ctrl + T to enter Free Transform. Right-click on the rainbow and choose Warp. From the upper drop down menu select Arch.


Step 14

You can see the results of our transformation below. Now it starts to look like a real rainbow.


Step 15

Change the rainbow layer blending mode to Color and lower the Opacity to 37%. Place the rainbow closer to the moon like shown below.image018

Step 16

Open file “Underwater” and select all (Ctrl + A). Copy then paste into our document. Use Free transform to resize and position the layer like shown below.


Step 17

Paste the “Underwater” file again by pressing Ctrl + V and resize it like shown below.


Step 18

Add a layer mask (Layer > Layer Mask >Hide All) and using a round white soft brush at 30% Opacity paint in the layer mask to reveal some of the center area of this layer.


Step 19

Add a Curves Adjustment layer and drag the curve downwards to darken the scene. But because we want to apply this effect selectively we will mask some of the darkening effect in the next step.


Step 20

Press D to set default colors and select the gradient tool (G). Click on the layer mask than hold the Shift key and drag from bottom part towards the upper part. This will darken the bottom of the sea and will make the underwater scene look more realistic because if you look at underwater scenes you will notice that the part near the bottom of the sea it is darker.


Step 21

In this step we will create the caustic reflection of water on the bottom of the sea. First create a new layer (Ctrl + Shift + Alt + N) and choose Filter > Render > Clouds. Make sure you have default colors set (press D to set default colors).


Step 22

With the same layer selected choose Filter > Render > Difference Clouds. This step will give us this interesting effect shown below.


Step 23

Press Ctrl + I to invert the colors because we want our underwater reflection to be white.


Step 24

Let’s increase the contrast a bit and make the caustic water reflection more pronounced. Add a Curves adjustment by choosing Image > Adjustments > Curves and drag the left slider towards the center.


Step 25

As you can see in the image below the effect looks much cleaner. This image could also be used to create Lightning effects. If you want to create Lighting effects in your other projects simply change the layer blend mode to Screen and the black parts will disappear leaving you with a nice Lightning effect. After that simply add a layer mask and hide the unwanted parts. But let’s continue with our underwater scene and proceed to the next step.


Step 25

Change the layer blend mode to Soft Light and press Ctr + T to enter Free Transform. Resize and position this layer like shown below and press Enter after your finished. Starts to look better and better, ehh?


Step 26

Add a layer mask (Layer > Layer Mask > Reveal All) and with a black round soft brush at 80% Opacity gently mask away the upper edges to make the reflection fade away in the distance and blend it seamlessly with the scene. Remember, in scenes where you want to achieve realism hard edges are your enemy, especially if you are doing nature scenes.


Step 27

Open file “Fish” and using your favorite selection tool make a selection of the fish. Copy and paste this selection into our document. Position the fish like show below and using layer mask or the Eraser Tool at 50% Opacity partially erase the tail and the upper membrane. Fish membranes are usually semitransparent so this step will bake the fish blend with the scene better.


Step 28

Duplicate the “Fish” layer and Ctrl-click on the layer to make a selection. Fill this selection with black and press Ctrl + D to deselect. Apply a Motion blur to this layer to mimic the shadow below the fish.


Step 29

Change the blend mode of this layer to Multiply and lower the Opacity to 56%. Add a layer mask and erase all the unnecessary parts (the areas above the fish) by painting with a round soft black brush tool at 100% Opacity.


Step 30

In our scene the light is coming from the upper left side so let’s add some lights and shadows to our fish to make him integrate into the scene. We will add some darkness first. Add a Curves Adjustment Layer and modify the curve like shown below.


Step 31

Add another Curves adjustment layer and modify the curve like in the image below. This will further darken the scene.


Step 32

Now for the lightness part add a Curves Adjustment layer but this time drag the curve upwards to lighten the scene.


Step 33

Now that we have the lightness and darkness layers created simply fill all their layer masks with black. Next select a round soft white brush at 80-100% Opacity and start painting in the layer mask to reveal the desired effects. Paint with white in the layer mask of Lighten layer to add light to the scene and paint with black in the layer mask of Darken1 or Darken 2 to add darkness to the scene. This step it is more about experimenting and trusting your inner artistic eye than about precise adjustments. You can see the results I achieved below but don’t worry if you don’t have the same result. Just keep on experimenting until you achieve the effect you desire.


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