How to Add Water Droplets and Other Wet Effects in Photoshop CS6

By Barbara Obermeier

You can find a lot of techniques for creating nice, neat, round drops of water by using Photoshop CS6. Unless you’ve just waxed your car and expect a rain shower within moments, however, perfectly beaded water droplets can be fairly rare.

In real life, you’re likely to encounter some sloppy drops and driblets. This technique simulates that look. You could use it to add sparkling water drops to a flower, create a wet-look texture for artistic effect, or add a three-dimensional trompe l’oeil (“fools the eye”) optical illusion. Follow these steps to add wet effects:

  1. 1. Open a plain old bone-dry photograph in Photoshop.

    [Credit: ©iStockphoto.com/zorani Image #6975160]

    Credit: ©iStockphoto.com/zorani Image #6975160
  2. Press D to make sure you have the foreground and background colors in Photoshop set to the default values of black and white.

  3. Choose Window→Channels to bring up the Channels panel. From the Channels panel menu, choose New Channel.

    This choice creates a new alpha channel for the water droplets.

  4. In the Color Indicates area of the New Channel dialog box, select the Selected Areas radio button and set Opacity to 100%. Click OK.

  5. Select Filter→Render→Clouds to create a motley cloud effect to use as the basis for your random water droplets.

    To view your alpha channel, select it in the Channels panel.

  6. Choose Image→Adjustments→Threshold, and then move the slider to create black blotches that will become water droplets. Click OK.

    image1.jpg

  7. Choose Filter→Blur→Gaussian Blur and move the Radius slider enough to blur the jagged edges of the droplets. Click OK.

  8. Choose Filter→Sharpen→Unsharp Mask and adjust the Amount and Radius sliders to firm up the edges of the droplets. Click OK.

    image2.jpg

  9. Ctrl-click (Command-click on the Mac) the new channel in the Channels panel to load the selection you’ve created.

    [Credit: ©iStockphoto.com/zorani Image #6975160]

    Credit: ©iStockphoto.com/zorani Image #6975160
  10. Click the RGB Channel in the Channels panel to return to your full-color picture.

    The droplets appear as selections.

  11. Choose Layer→New→Layer via Copy to create a new layer for the droplets to reside in.

  12. Choose Layer→Layer Style and select Bevel and Emboss. Specify your options and click OK.

    The bevel/embossing effect adds a third dimension to the drops. You can experiment with the depth and size controls to get the exact effect you want.

  13. If you like, you can choose Image→Adjustments→Levels to darken the droplets against their background. Click OK.

    [Credit: ©iStockphoto.com/zorani Image #6975160]

    Credit: ©iStockphoto.com/zorani Image #6975160

    The final image looks like a print that has been drenched with liquid.