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Making a flowing liquid effect in Photoshop

In this tutorial we will create a flowing liquid effect in Photoshop. We’ll use for this an image of a overturned glass and make it look like the contents of the glass is spilled on the surface the glass sits on.

Step 1

Make a photo of an overturned glass on a surface, just like in the image below, or download one from a stock photo website. I am using a free stock photo from stock.xchng. You can download the image here. I flipped horizontally the original image.

Making a flowing liquid effect in Photoshop - Step 1

Step 2

Create a new layer (Layer-> New -> Layer or simply Ctrl+Shift+N). We’ll use this layer to create the basic shape of the liquid. This can be a little tricky so take your time with it. Try to imagine how the liquid would pour through the opening of the glass and lie on the table. Use a hard edged brush to create the shape and give it a gray color. The color I am using is #848484.

You can download the PSD file with just the basic liquid shape here.

Making a flowing liquid effect in Photoshop - Step 2

Step 3

Use the Dodge Tool to add some random highlights to the Shape. Use these settings for the Dodge Tool as shown in the image below (Soft Edged brush, size 45, Range : shadows, Exposure 20%).

The Dodge / Burn Tool menu :

The Dodge / Burn Tool

Dodge Tool settings :

Dodge Tool settings

The result :

Making a flowing liquid effect in Photoshop - Step 3

Step 4

Use the Burn tool to add some shadows to the Shape. Use these settings for the Burn Tool as shown in the image below (Soft Edged brush, size 35, Range : shadows, Exposure 15%).

Burn Tool settings :

Burn Tool settings

The result :

Making a flowing liquid effect in Photoshop - Step 4

Step 5

It’s time to create the liquid effect. Goto Filter -> Artistic -> Plastic Wrap. Use the following settings for the Plastic Wrap : Highlight Strength : 13, Detail : 15, Smoothness : 14. You can use other settings. Just slide the values until you think it looks real enough.

Plastic Wrap

The result :

Making a flowing liquid effect in Photoshop - Step 5

Step 6

If it doesn’t look right undo and apply the shadows (Burn Tool) and highlights (Dodge Tool) again.

Step 7

Change the mode of the layer from Normal to Hard Light. This removes all the shades of gray leaving only the shadows and highlights.

Change mode from Normal to Hard Light :

Hard Light

The result :

Making a flowing liquid effect in Photoshop - Step 7

Step 8

You can add an Inner Bevel effect for a bit of extra realism. I am using the following values :

Inner bevel settings

Play around with these values until you think it looks right. You need to take in consideration the lighting of the original glass object, and modify the Shading Angle so that the shading follows the same direction of the glass lighting.

The result :

Making a flowing liquid effect in Photoshop - Step 8

You can change the color of the liquid with ease. Go to Image -> Adjustments -> Color Balance. Play around with the sliders until you are satisfied with the color.

Written by CrazyLeaf Editorial

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