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Create a Surreal Underwater Background in Photoshop
Tutorials Photo Manipulation 72814 Views January 22nd, 2013

Learn how to create a surreal underwater landscape in Photoshop using some simple blending and image cropping techniques.

Creating an underwater scene is not a hard, all you have to do is use some water textures, brushes and blend all the different stock images used. This is our second guest Photoshop photo manipulation tutorial made by our friend PSHoudini.


Learn how to create a surreal underwater scene in Photoshop in only a few simple steps. This is an intermediate level Photoshop tutorial and the completion time is about 1 to 2 hours. It was made with Photoshop CS5 but can be done in any other Photoshop version. Very important to know that this tutorial uses some non free stock images but we gave you also an alternate free images that you can use instead.

Start off opening the main road image (As an alternate image you can use this road stock). (Ctrl + O and select the image to be used) We will use the exact measures of the original background image so we don't need to worry about dimensions and measures.

Go to adjustment layers options and select the Hue/Saturation option and lower the saturation to -66. (Note: do not alter the rest of the options and do not mark the colorize option. now our image will look as the image above. with less color.

Now go back to the Adjustments panel and select the Color balance. Follow the tones as showed above in the images. (This includes the Shadows / Midtones / Highlights) After doing so, go to the blending options and set the layer to 'Hard Light' + lower the Opacity to 25%. The image will have a bluish tone.

Now go back to the Adjustments panel and select the Gradient Map. Set the colors from Black to white and change the blending mode to Darken. This will make the overall tones darker and closer to the underwater tones.

Just so we don't get lost on the layers and positions they should be in, follow the guide to see how they all should be displayed. I recommend you select all three Adjustment layers and group them. Simply hold the CTRL + click on the three layers to be grouped. After all are selected press Ctrl + G

Now open the water reflections image(Important! For those of you that don't have a depositphotos account you can use this water texture instead but you have to make different adjustments and blendings in order to fit with the tutorial) and place it in between the background image and the last adjustment group we created. We will be using this image for the reflection on the ground. (This will be most visible on the road)

Change the water reflection mode to Multiply and lower the opacity to 80%. With the water reflection layer selected, press CTRL+T. Once you have done so right click with the mouse and select the Distort option. Now shape the reflection image to fit the road and parts of the grass. The overall image will look as above.

Now create a new transparent layer over the background image and bellow the water reflections we just worked on. If you don't know how to create a new layer, you can simply click on the 'create new layer symbol' or press CTRL+SHIFT+ALT+N. Now name this layer Bright Tones. Create another layer over this one and name it Dark Tones

Go to the color panel and select the color #7ab9b9. (Note: this color is basically the same color as in the middle of our sky) Select a soft brush and lower the opacity to about 30%. Now pass this color brush over the tree borders and parts of the background as in the image above. (All of this in the Bright Tones layer.) By doing so, we already start to work the underwater lighting and shades.

Now do the same as in step 09, but instead of using the blue color, use the black. (In this step we will be using the Dark Tones layer over the Bright Tones Layer) The small example with red tones is actually a guide for you to know where the black tones should be placed/painted.

Part 1Part 2Part 3

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14 comment(s) for "Create a Surreal Underwater Background in Photoshop"

5:54 AM Monday, January 28, 2013
A great Tutorial. It was fun to follow your steps. Thank you so much :D reply
5:57 AM Monday, January 28, 2013
Nice result but you should try to desaturate the landscape image a little bit, the grass is too green. Keep up the good work! reply
2:53 AM Wednesday, February 06, 2013
Great photo manipulation tutorial, here is my is actually my first try to create an underwater scene in Photoshop, hope you like it! reply
10:14 AM Tuesday, February 12, 2013
thank you for the tutorial :)

This is my creation reply
10:15 AM Tuesday, February 12, 2013
Nice result Louis :) thank you practicing the tutorial! reply
5:51 AM Tuesday, February 19, 2013
Great tutorial! Thanks you so much. So creative :) reply
1:01 AM Sunday, July 07, 2013
Thank you. I loved this lesson! reply
1:07 AM Sunday, July 07, 2013
Your result looks amazing, really beautiful underwater photo manipulation! reply
1:51 PM Thursday, July 25, 2013
Nice work !!! reply
4:32 AM Wednesday, May 28, 2014
Thank you so much! Everything was clear and result is perfect!) reply
Pedro Floro
4:06 AM Wednesday, February 04, 2015
Thanks a lot for your tutorial. Here you have my picture.

Cheers. reply
3:23 AM Thursday, March 12, 2015
that's my version...thank you reply
2:13 AM Wednesday, August 12, 2015
Thank you for this wonderful lesson. I fall in love with this Photoshop lesson. I want more tutorials with the sea underwater theme. reply
2:13 PM Wednesday, January 25, 2017
thanx man, very closely and patiently lesson! reply

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