Create a realistic octopus scene in Photoshop

Creating a realistic underwater scene is quite difficult. In this tutorial, you will learn how to create an underwater scene in Photoshop using several photos. Let’s start!

Watch this amazing accelerated video in which you will see how this work was created from beginning to end.

Note:some images are missing from the source of the lesson, the author also used paid materials. In the archive you will find an alternative version of the materials for the lesson.

If you use alternative material, the settings of the corrective layers that the author uses in this lesson may not be suitable for you. In this case, you can experiment and find your settings.

1. Create the base

Step 1

Create a new A4 document using the settings shown below. You can make it smaller or larger, but keep the proportions of the A4 document.

Step 2

Open the underwater image to create a base for the ocean. Using tool Stamp (Stamp tool) (S) Remove the diver from the image.

Now using the adjustment layer Curves (Curves) (CTRL / CMD + M), change the image contrast as shown below.

After that create another adjustment layer. Curves (Curves) and set the settings as shown below. Next, on its layer mask, remove some of the effect to give more depth to the ocean.

Step 3

The surface of the water will need to be cut from the image of “water # 1” with the tool Pen (path tool) (P). After creating the outline, press the CTRL / CMD + Enter key combination to create an active selection from the outline, then press the CTRL / CMD + F6 (Shift + F6) key combination to make the selection softer, about 0.5 pixels or more.

Adjust the color using adjustment layers Gradient map (Gradient map) and Curves (Curves) as shown below.

Note: Apply these adjustment layers as a clipping mask. The author has combined these layers into a group.

Your image should look like the one below.

Step 4

Open the image “Sky # 1”, we will use it as a base, then open “Sky # 2” and set the blending mode to Multiplication (Multiply), then hide some parts of the sky using a layer mask.

Note: Place the layer with the sky below the layer with the ocean.

Now we will adjust the sky with the help of corrective layers. Curves (Curves) and Color balance (Color balance) in the following sequence.

Curves (Curves):

Curves (Curves):

Change the adjustment layer Color balance (Color Balance) overlay mode Soft light (Soft light) and install opacity (Opacity) up to 50%:

Curves (Curves):

Note: Also merge these layers into a group.

2. Place new items

Step 1

In this step, we will add a sunken ship to our work. As before, use the tool Pen(path tool) to select and cut the ship. After the outline stroke, press CTRL / CMD + Enter to create an active selection. Next, CTRL / CMD + F6 (Shift + F6), to make the selection softer, set the feathering radius to about 0.5 pixels. To make it appear that the ship is underwater, you need to make a copy of the ocean layer, so right-click on the ocean folder and select Duplicate group (Duplicate Group), press CTRL / CMD + E to merge the group into one layer. After change opacity (Opacity) of this layer to 75% and create a layer mask as shown below to create a depth effect, then hold down the ALT button and click between the thumbnails of these layers to apply the ocean layer as a clipping mask to the ship layer.

Now add light and shadow to the ship. To do this, we will use a correction layer. Curves (Curves). Create a new adjustment layer. Curves (Curves) and set the settings as shown below.

Note: Apply these two layers as a clipping mask to the sunken ship.

To create light, create another layer. Curves (Curves).

To make the mast peeking out of the water, duplicate the ship layer, create a layer mask for it and fill it with black. Then white color show the mast, as shown below.

The final touch in working with a ship is adding a flag. Open the image with the flags and cut the red. Then apply the following adjustment layers with settings as shown below:

Curves (Curves) Apply as a clipping mask:

Another layer Curves (Curves) Apply as a clipping mask:

Color balance (Color balance) apply as clipping mask:

Step 2

Now add an image with stones to get better integration between the ship and the sea. Place the image as shown in the example, and use a soft brush to paint over the layer mask to hide the unnecessary part of the image.

Make color and lighting adjustments using the following settings, which are listed below.

Apply Curves (Curves) as a clipping mask:

Apply Color balance (Color balance) as clipping mask:

Apply Curves (Curves) as a clipping mask:

Step 3

Open the image with the bubbles and place them just above the waterline, set the blending mode to Screen (Screen), then create a layer mask as shown below.

3. Add sea creatures and birds

Step 1

To create an octopus, we will use five images. For the main part, connect the images # 1 and # 2, position the tentacles as shown below, and erase the part with a soft brush using a layer mask to connect the tentacle with the octopus.

After that, merge these two layers into one, select and cut the image. Follow these settings to make color and lighting adjustments:

Apply Curves (Curves) as a clipping mask:

Duplicate the bubble layer, lower the opacity to 40% and remove the layer mask.

Apply Curves (Curves) as a clipping mask:

Another layer Curves (Curves) Apply as a clipping mask:

And once again create a layer Curves (Curves) Apply as a clipping mask:

Last layer Curves (Curves) Apply as a clipping mask:

Color balance (Color balance) apply as clipping mask:

Now create a layer mask for the octopus folder, then create a selection of the ship, hold down the CTRL / CMD button and click on the thumbnail of the ship layer, then press the SHIFT + CTRL / CMD + I key combination to invert the selection and return to the octopus mask . Now, using a layer mask, erase those parts of the octopus that should not be visible.

To create a shadow you need to use several adjustment layers. Curves (Curves).

Apply Curves (Curves) as a clipping mask:

Create one more time Curves (Curves) and apply as a clipping mask:

Now make some more tentacles using images 3,4 and 5. You can give them different forms, for this you need to go to Editing (Edit) and select the tool Puppet Warp (Puppet Warp Tool).

Then merge everything into one layer. Now make the light adjustment using the adjustment layers as shown below. On the layer mask of these adjustment layers, erase part of the effect so that light falls on the tentacles from the upper left corner.

Apply Gradient map (Gradient map) so that the color of the tentacles is of the same tone:

Curves (Curves) Apply as a clipping mask:

Curves (Curves) Apply as a clipping mask:

Curves (Curves) Apply as a clipping mask:

Curves (Curves) Apply as a clipping mask:

Curves (Curves) Apply as a clipping mask:

Color balance (Color Balance) apply as clipping mask:

Once again, make a copy of the sea layer, place it on top of all layers and set opacity (Opacity) by 50%.

To finish the work with the octopus, open the image with cracks and set the blending mode to Multiplication (Multiply), reduce opacity (Opacity) up to 75%, then resize and rotate the image as you like to make the cracks in the ship’s hull.

Step 2

Open the image with the turtle, and after you cut it out, set the opacity to 70% and place it in the upper right corner.

Step 3

From this image we will insert fish into our work, but at the moment we need to cut out only a group of dark fish.

Then go to Filter> Blur> Gaussian Blur (Filter> Blur> Gaussian blur) and set the blur to 0.5. After that create two adjustment layers:

Curves (Curves) Apply as a clipping mask:

Color balance (Color Balance) apply as clipping mask:

Step 4

Open the image “fish # 1” and “# 2”, select and cut a group of light fish.

Curves (Curves) Apply as a clipping mask:

Color balance (Color Balance) apply as clipping mask:

Step 5

Open the image with the shark and cut it out.

Note: Also make a selection feathering, a feathering radius of 0.5 pixels.

Then turn the shark, go to Editing> Transform> Flip Horizontal (Edit> Transform> Flip horizontal) and position it at the bottom next to the boat, then reduce the opacity to 75% and apply the following adjustment layers to this layer.

Color balance (Color Balance) apply as clipping mask:

Curves (Curves) Apply as a clipping mask:

Step 6

Now create bubbles in the water. To do this, duplicate the image we used as the basis for the ocean, then make it black and white by pressing the SHIFT + CTRL / CMD + U key combination and apply the Levels adjustment layer to this image by going to Image> New adjustment layer> Levels (Image> Adjustments> Levels) as shown below.

Set the blending mode to Screen (Screen) and change the intensity of the color of the bubbles using a layer mask or lower the opacity. You should have it, as in the image below.

Step 7

Now open the image with the seagull and cut it, then place it next to the mast of the ship.

Then create adjustment layers in the following sequence.

Curves (Curves) Apply as a clipping mask. Next, erase some of the blackout effect to create a shadow on the right side of the bird:

Create another layer Curves (Curves) and apply as a clipping mask. Then erase some of the brightening effect to create light on the left side of the bird:

Create an adjustment layer to adjust the color. Color balance (Color balance) and apply as clipping mask:

4. Add elements to the foreground.

Step 1

In this part of the lesson we will add elements to the foreground. Open again the image of fish and reef, now cut only the reef. Then apply the blur by going to Filter> Blur> Gaussian Blur (Filter> Blur> Gaussian blur), set a blur radius of 8.0 pixels and increase the size to make it seem as if the reef is located close to the camera lens.

Using the adjustment layer Color balance (Color balance) adjust color and tone, apply as clipping mask and set the settings as shown below:

Use adjustment layer Curves (Curves), apply it as a clipping mask, then darken the image, and then hide part of the effect on the layer mask so that the shading remains on the bottom of the reef, as shown below:

For the fish layer, repeat the steps we applied to the reef. The difference will be in setting the shadow and color.

Using an adjustment layer Curves (Curves), darken the image, and then hide a part of the effect on the layer mask so that the shading remains on the bottom side of the fish:

Using the adjustment layer Color balance (Color balance) adjust color and tone:

Step 2

This step is optional. If you want to make distortion in water, you need to create a copy of all layers together. Press the key combination SHIFT + CTRL / CMD + ALT + E (merge all visible layers into one), then go to Filter> Filter Gallery> Distortion> Glass (Filter> Filter Gallery> Distortion> Glass), as shown in the image below.

Next, create a layer mask and erase the distortion from above, leaving it only on the water, and reduce opacity (Opacity) up to 50% or whatever you like.

Step 3

The final step is to create an environment. We will combine all the elements in one atmosphere. If you wish, you can choose your own settings.

Apply adjustment layer Curves (Curves) as a clipping mask to darken the corners:

We also apply a correction layer. Gradient map (Gradient Map) and change the blending mode to Chromaticity (Color) and opacity 40%:

Now, using a set of light brushes, create several rays on a new layer falling into the water and apply an adjustment layer to them. Curves (Curves):

Now create another layer Curves (Curves) and brighten the surface of the water:

Next, create an adjustment layer. Hue / Saturation (Hue / Saturation) to reduce saturation:

Next, create an adjustment layer. Color balance (Color Balance) and adjust the color and tone:

The following effect is only available in CS6 and higher. Correction layer Color search (Color Lookup) has several preset options, in this case we need “Horror Blue”.

Now apply Photo filter (Photo filter) to add blue:

Also add a correction layer. Vibration (Vibrance):

The final touch is adding noise to our image. Go to panel Layer> New Layer (Layer> New layer), in the window that appears, change the blending mode to Overlap (Overlay) and tick the checkbox “Fill with the neutral color of the mode“ Overlap ”(gray 50%)”.

Then go to Filter> Noise> Add Noise (Filter> Noise> Add Noise) and set the settings as shown below.

Conclusion

In this tutorial, I showed you how you can make a realistic underwater scene from several photos. I hope that in this lesson you have learned something new and will be able to apply these methods in your own work.

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