Before you begin on part 2,  have you completed part 1? If not, check out How To Create An Underwater Mermaid Part 1 here. If you have completed part 1, well done! Let’s jazz up our mermaid and enhance the features and overall effect:

Final Image:

20Level: Advanced
Program: Photoshop CS6, Windows 10
Time: 2 hours

What We Will Be Learning:
In the second part of this two-part tutorial we will be creating an underwater environment for our previously created mermaid, or for any underwater creature. We will also be learning how to create our own water reflection brush!

This tutorial assumes you have knowledge of basic Photoshop functions such as adjustment layers and layer effects. It also assumes you followed the first part of the tutorial.

Images Used:

Water Reflection:#3339269@arcady31

Water Surface:#3532317@mihtiander

Bubbles: #44426775@shtanzman

Note: At the end of each step there is an image of what my layers look like, at the point of that step, for when you get lost!

How To Create An Underwater Mermaid Part 2 from 123RF on Vimeo.

Step One: Creating a Water Surface
First, we are going to create the surface of the ocean above our mermaid.

1. Find an underwater surface image (image #35323177). Size and place it at the top of your canvas.
2. Add a layer mask to the image and using a large, soft, black brush mask out the bottom edge of the water surface so that it blends in with your background.

Now, we are going to adjust the color of the surface image to match our background.

1. Create a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer and clip it into your surface image. Settings: Hue +6
2. Create a Vibrance adjustment layer and clip it above the Hue/Saturation layer. Settings: Vibrance -30
3. Create a Brightness/Contrast layer above the Vibrance layer. Settings: Brightness -74 and Contrast 22

Group all the water surface layers together and name the group “Water Surface”.


4Step Two: Water Lighting
Next, we are going to continue with the background lighting to further blend the background and water surface together.

1. Create a new layer above your water surface group. Set it to “Soft Light”.
2. Using a large, soft, round brush with a very low brush flow (9-15%) paint white towards the top of the image, focusing on the mermaid’s head. We want a smooth transition.
3. Do the same thing, only this time with the color set to black. Focus on the middle and bottom part of the image, around the loop of the mermaid’s tail.

5Now, we are going to add colored light to our image.

1. Create a new layer below your “CC” or “Color Correction” group from part one. Set it to “Screen”.
2. Using a large, soft, round brush, with the same low brush flow as above, paint orange (#c95932) and dark red (#270c0c) in the middle and top of the image. Below is my layer set to normal so you can see where I painted.

With the layer set to Screen:


8Step Three: Ocean Floor
Next, we are adding a sandy ocean floor in a similar way that we added our water surface.

1. Find a sandy ocean floor image (image #35273542) and place it at the bottom of your canvas.
2. Add a layer mask, and using a large, soft, round brush mask out the top edge of the image so that it blends with the background. I ended up masking out about 3/4ths of the image.

Now, we are going to color adjust the sand so that it blends better.

1. Create a Hue/Saturation layer and clip it into the sand image. Settings: Hue -5
2. Create and clip a Brightness/Contrast adjustment layer above the H/S layer. Settings: Brightness -64 and Contrast 29
3. Create and clip a Color Balance layer above the B/C layer. Settings: Red 100, Green -59, and Blue -73

Group all the sand layers together and name the group “Sand”


Step Four: Water Reflection
Now we are adding water light reflection to the sand. We will be doing this using a simple “screen” mode trick.

1. Find a water reflection image (image #33392691) and place it towards the bottom of your canvas, over the sand area.
2. Using the transform anchors, pull the top of the image down, to make it seem more flat.
3. Using the warp tool, warp the image so that it fits perfectly over the sand.
4. Go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur and add a slight blur to your image. The amount will depend on the image size and personal preference.
1. Set the water reflection image to “Screen”. Bring down the opacity to around 75%.
2. Add a layer mask, and mask out the top part of the image so that it fades out with the sand.

Create and clip a Curves adjustment layer into your water reflection. Settings:


Create and clip a black and white Gradient Map layer above the Curves layer.

15This is the same technique I used to add the water reflection to the models back, only I clipped the “screen” layer into the model instead.


Step Five: Bubbles  
Finally, we are going to add some bubbles to make the image more dynamic.

1. Find an image of several underwater bubbles on a black background (image #44426775). Set it to screen.

Using the Lasso tool cut and paste some of the bubble strands and place them around your image. Keep the bubbles set to screen!

1. Keep doing this, making some bubble larger and smaller than others.
2. Blur out the larger bubbles using a mix of Gaussian and Radial Blur to give a sense of depth.

Continue to do this over and over until you have all your bubbles placed!

20Final Layers:


And now we are done! Feel free to experiment, and do things differently. There is more than one way to do all of this and none of them are wrong, so have fun and do it your own way!  Do comment below if you are having issues or need some guidance, we are always listening!

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