The Dancer – Create A Dynamic Liquid Splash Effect

In this tutorial we’ll create an image of a Dancer with a dynamic liquid splash effect.

Here are the few images used:

Dancer: Image ID: 5826686 © Alexander Yakovlev

Liquid Splash: Image ID: 7311559 © ifong

Liquid Splash: Image ID: 7409551 © ifong

Liquid Splash: Image ID: 7409560 © ifong

Liquid Splash: Image ID: 7499024 © ifong

Liquid Splash: Image ID: 7499033 © ifong

Spatter: Image ID: 4797910 © Ana De Sousa

Preparing the splashes

Fire up Photoshop and open the Dancer and paint/liquid splash images that you want to use.

First the splash image. You will see that this layer is locked. let’s make this a working layer by double clicking on it, and then selecting “OK” from the option box.

The layer name will be renamed from “Background” to “Layer 0”.

Use the Magic Wand Tool (W) select the background of the splash, then hit delete.

Use the Lasso Tool (L) to copy (Ctrl / Cmd + C) sections of the splash that you want to use (or if you want to use the whole splash as is, just invert the selection (Ctrl + Shift + I) after you delete the background), then paste (Ctrl / Cmd + P) it onto the Dancer image.

Try to look for sections of the clothing that will go well with the “flow” of the splash.

Lower the opacity for the splash so it’s a lot easier to see where you’re placing it.

Use the Free Transform (Ctrl / Cmd + T) and/or Warp Tool (Edit > Transform > Warp) to shape it to the creases in the clothing. Return the splash opacity to 100%.

Apply a layer mask to the paint splash and remove main unwanted areas of it with a soft brush (0% hardness), then slowly blend the paint to the crease with alternating opacity and brush sizes.

I used mainly around 30%-10%.

Applying the splashes

Now here’s the tricky part where I can’t pin point how or what to do specifically. It’s a whole trial and error process that also needs a lot of observation.

Let’s change and match the colors of the splash at best, according to the colors of the Dancer’s clothes, where it is positioned

There are a few ways to do this, but I found the Gradient Map Tool works better and allows more control over the tones.

First, select the Dancer layer, and sample the color of the clothing near the blending point of the splash with the Eyedropper Tool (I).

Then select the Splash layer, got to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Gradient Map.

Click “Use Previous Layer to Create Clipping Mask“, click OK, and click on the gradient map box to bring out the Gradient Editor.

You will see that by default, this gradient is called “Foreground to Background“. the Foreground color being the one sampled from the Dancer’s clothing.

Below it is the Gradient Bar, where we will manipulate the colors using the Color Stops – The left stop corresponding with the Shadows, the right stop with the Highlights.

That being so, for the end result you might want the left Color Stop at a darker tone of that specific color compared to the one on the right.

First, change the color of the right Color Stop by clicking it then selecting “Foreground” as well in the “Stops” option box. This changes its default color to that of the left Color Stop (Sampled color). After this, the gradient name will have changed to “Custom”. This is the main color template that we will start with.

Bring up the Color Picker Box by double clicking the Color Stops. While refering to your splash image, alternate between Color Stops and cycle through the Color Field for tones that best match that part of the Dancer’s clothing, and also the details of the Splash.

You might also want to move the Color stops and Color Midpoint around to get a better result. Once you’re happy with the result, click OK.

Click on the Splash layer and create another adjustment layer for Levels to tweak the exposure slightly, where needed.

To keep the workflow more organized, create a new group folder and place the Splash image and its adjustment layers in there, then name it accordingly.

Repeating the steps, place a few more splashes around. I named all splashes individually and and arranged the group folders into the order preferred.

Use the Layer Mask to remove any sections of the splash that are overlapping.

When it looks good enough to you, flatten the image.

Use the Stamp Tool (S) with a light opacity to further blend the splashes to the clothing.

Dodge and Burn, Highlights

We will intensify the shadows and highlights of the splashes. Other than using the Dodge and Burn Tools (O) directly on the image and damaging it’s quality, let’s do it the non-destructive way.

Hold down Alt / Opt and click the Create New Layer icon at the bottom of the Layers palette.

Name the Layer “Dodge and Burn“, set the layer mode to “Overlay” and also tick “Fill with Overlay-neutral color (50% gray)”. Click OK and make sure that the layer is at the top.

Decide where you want them, then use a white colored brush (B) and a black colored brush to dodge and burn respectively.

Create another new layer on top and use a white brush with opacities of around 30%-10% and brush along the contours of the splash according to the direction of the light source to create glows.

If you think it’s not smooth enough, you can use the Smudge Tool to soften the glow some more.


Let’s create some custom spatter brushes to give the splashes a “Burst” effect.

Open up an image of paint splatters. One with a plain background works best.

Use the Lasso Tool (L) and draw a selection around the area of the spatter that you would like to use as your brush.

Go to Edit > Define Brush Preset and give your new brush a name. Save it, and you will see the brush at the bottom of your drop down brush menu.

Create a few more different brushes, sample the color of the clothing or splash where you want to place it and click around that area. And here’s the final version.

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  1. Freeman

    THANK YOU ALOT for that tutorial,it really helped me a lot,I’m sure to please my clients with this one 🙂 ..

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      Photo Chick

      You are so welcome! Do check out our other tutorials too, sure you’ll find something pleasing to the eye=)

  2. abdelkader hennad

    salut , je voudrez – créer ce( liquide dynamiques splash effet) avec ces étapes mais pour bien comprendre ci nécessaire une traduction en langue française merci salutations meilleurs .

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      Photo Chick

      Salut abdelkader,

      Merci pour votre commentaire. Je pourrais vous aider dans la traduction si cela prendra un certain temps. Puis-je avoir votre e-mail afin que je puisse envoyer le tutoriel pour vous une fois qu’il a été traduit?


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  3. wassim

    hello thanks for this job but can i know the name of this program and how can i download 🙂 thanks again

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  4. Zolani Dotwana

    Hey Photo Chick,

    Your tutorial really helped me! You made it look so easy, I am sure to please my clients as well, looking forward to more of your tutorials. thanks!

    1. Post
      Photo Chick

      Hi Zolani!

      Great hearing from you and such a pleasure that you like the tutorials=) See you again soon!

    1. Post
      Photo Chick

      Hi Galwan,

      Glad to see that you like our tutorials.This tutorial can only be done on your desktop or laptop using the Adobe Photoshop software.

  5. kiyano

    THANK YOU ALOT for that tutorial,it really helped me a lot…plz iwant to ask u if u can learne me an easy way to cut pic

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      Photo Chick

      Hi Kiyano,

      Thank you for your time in following the tutorial! Do you mean crop images? Here is a simple guide:

      1. Use the Rectangular Marquee tool and select Fixed Ratio from the Style list.
      2. Set the Width and Height as values without measurements,ex: 1×1.
      3. Select the area to crop – if necessary, hold the Space Bar as you are drawing the shape to move it to a new position.
      4. When you ‘re done choose Image > Crop to crop it.

      Hope this helps!

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      Photo Chick

      No hay de qué Javier! Tenemos más tutoriales aquí para que usted pueda aprender y compartir, nosotros no visitar de nuevo para más!

  6. Bilahl

    This my first time.. and I saw something interesting I’ve bin looking for.. God bless you and ur management..

  7. Natasha Heredia

    Thanks for this tutorial! Loads of really useful info. 🙂 Is there a tutorial out there anywhere about changing the shape of the liquid so that it looks like another object? Like making a bottle, dress or chair out of water splashes/drops. I have a project in mind and would like some insight. Thanks!

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  8. Dante Alvarez Flores

    Realmente buenísimo, maravillosamente creativo, muchísimas gracias.
    Really great, wonderfully creative , thank you.

  9. Mattjoe

    I will be the world’s greediest person if i don’t comment on this, you guys are simply great here… Tnx, awesome blog

    1. Mattjoe

      And please, i was unable to register cos the box for signing up is just empty, i don’t know where to fix in the right details since its not indicating name, email nd all that…

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