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Photoshop Compositing: Water Effects

Part 1: After the flood By Dave Nagel
Continuing along in our series of photographic compositing techniques, this week we begin a new segment on water effects in Adobe Photoshop. We have, so far, discussed masking, depth of field and atmospheric volume. To these we now add a technique for compositing bodies of water onto images.

There are, of course, infinite varieties to the types of effects you might like to create along these lines. As always, I'm going to present a method that not only accomplishes the effect pretty well, but also provides a basis for you to extrapolate new techniques to incorporate into your own composites. This tutorial is in no way meant to represent the only way to accomplish this effect. But I know that even with this disclosure I'll still get letters asking me why I didn't talk about some other technique as well. To answer these letters in advance, I felt like doing it this particular way, and no other reason. Also, this technique uses only the tools included with the retail version of Adobe Photoshop 6 and 7.

To give you an look at the effect we're going to create, take a look at the before and after images of this photo of the Acropolis.

For this tutorial you'll need nothing more than a photo to start out with. Feel free to copy the original image above if you'd like to follow along. Everything below the waterline will be generated in Photoshop, including the water itself. For the sake of ease, I'm going to divide this tutorial into four parts: the main image, the displacement map, the final composite and the cleanup.

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