In this tutorial, we will learn how to create water reflection and fog effect in Photoshop through few simple steps.

Learn How to Create Water Reflection and Fog Effect in Photoshop

Tutorial Details

Program: Photoshop CS5

Estimated Completion Time: 45 Minutes

Tutorial Assets

The following image was used during the production of this tutorial.

Forest image

Step 1

Create a new document with Width 1200px and Height 850px.


Step 2

Open up the image, which you want to use to apply these effects. Copy and paste it on a new layer in the document. Duplicate it to preserve the image and work on this copy now.

Firstly, we’ll create fog effect on this image. For this, click on the circular icon for creating ‘new fill or adjustment layer’ at the bottom of the layer panel and choose the option of ‘Hue / Saturation’. Use the following settings.



Step 3

Click on the Hue and Saturation layer and select the gradient tool. Use black to white and linear gradient and drag it from the bottom to the top of this image to get this foggy effect.


Step 4

To create a realistic fog effect, we need to keep this fact in mind that, it should appear thicker at distance. It means closer objects should be clearer as compared to distant. Fog should be dense at the background. So, depending upon which image we are using, we can create this sense of depth of fog with distance. Here, we’ll do it in 3 steps. So, duplicate this new fog layer twice to get 3 fog layers. Click on the ‘first fog layer’ and hide the other two. Now in the first fog layer erase the fog from the closer object completely by using ‘Brush tool’. Use black color and soft round brush to nicely erase the fog over the front trees. Set the opacity of this layer to 60%.


Step 5

Hide the ‘first fog layer’ and click on the ‘second fog layer’. Now erase the fog from the front and mid distance trees in the same way. Set this layer opacity as 80%.


Step 6

Click on the ‘third fog layer’ and just lower its opacity to blend everything nicely. I adjusted it to 35% here.


Step 7

Now to show fog on the ground, create a new layer just above your image and below fog layers. Select a rectangular area using ‘rectangular marquee tool’, set default colors and go to Filter > Render > Clouds. Then double click on this clouds layer to open the Layer style widow and press ‘Alt’ and drag the black cursor for ‘this layer’ towards white as shown below. This will leave us with light white clouds.


Step 8

Press ‘Ctrl+T’ and stretch cloudy rectangle to fit the front ground. Erase the top border using ‘eraser tool’ and lower opacity of this layer to 75%. We are all done with the fog effect so far.


Step 9

Now we will move ahead to create water reflection. For creating water ripples, create a new layer. Fill it with #ffffff color using ‘paint bucket tool’. Now set default colors, that is black as foreground and white as background. Then go to Filter > Sketch > Halftone pattern and use the following settings to get these back and white lines.


Step 10

After that, go to Filter > Distort > Ripple and use the settings displayed below.


Step 11

Next, we’ll blur this effect by going to Filter > Blur > Gaussian blur and select the radius of ‘3 pixels’. Now right click on this layer and select the option of ‘duplicate layer’. Label it as ‘displacement map’ and set its destination as ‘New’ in the widow that appears after clicking duplicate layer. By doing so, it will open as a new document, now save this document as psd for later use.


Step 12

We are using the same original image for applying water reflection. Duplicate it. Click on this copy to select it and go to Edit > Transform > Flip vertical. After that, go to Filter > Distort > Displace and use the following settings to get this water reflection effect.


Step 13

Click on the background layer and go to Image > Canvas size and use the following settings to increase the canvas space where we’ll show water reflection of this image.


Step 14

Now go to the water reflection layer and drag it downward to place it just below the original image and we are done.


Hope you enjoyed learning these effects. Don’t forget to share your thoughts.

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