Flowing Water

Flowing WaterThis tutorial will show you how to create realistic looking water which you can then apply to a tap, hose, or even with some tweaking, a waterfall.

We will learn how to use blend modes, the warp tool and how to create realistic textures using clouds and plastic wrapping.


You will need to create a new doc (ctrl+n or apple+n on mac) and size it to 400px x 400px. Make sure your fore, and background colors are set to black and white by pressing D on the keypad.
Next apply some clouds: Filter > Render > Clouds

Tap Water 1


Next we blur the clouds into the direction we want the water to flow.
First: Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur | Size 7
Second: Filter >Blur > Motion Blur | Angle 90, Distance 85

Tap Water 2


Now we need to squeeze the image.
Go to Image > Image Size
Set width to 250px make sure you have Constrain Proportions un-ticked.

Tap Water 3


In this step we apply a water-like texture.
Apply the following filters:
First: Filter > Artistic > Plastic Wrap | 15, 10, 10
Second: Filter > Sketch > Chrome | Detail 0, Smooth 10
Third: Fade the Chrome Edit > Fade Chrome | Opacity 90%, Mode: Hard Light

Tap Water 4


Now we stretch the images height.
Go to Image > Image Size
Set height to 700px make sure you have Constrain Proportions un-ticked.

Tap Water 5


Next we warp the image to look like water. Just play around until you are happy by moving the anchor points up, down in and out.
To do this, go to Edit > Transform > Warp.

Tap Water 6


To color the image simply add a gradient into the background and set the water layer to Hard Light in blend mode panel (above the layers list).

Tap Water 7

By Dave Kelly

A native of Cornwall, Dave was forced to flee his homeland due to a constant struggle in finding signal for his beloved iPhone. Luckily he ended up in Bath, and so it was that Storm came to be.

As well as leading the team at Storm, Dave sits on the Creative Bath steering group, helps organise BathSPARK and is on the organising committee for the first ever Bath Digital Festival. He is also a mentor and adviser to a number of startup tech companies.

dave-kelly.co.uk →


  1. NICE TUTORIAL, simple and clear, easy to cmoplete, thx a lot, it is always good to learn new stuff

  2. Hi. I was trying out this tutorial and i got to step 4. Its weird, but my CS2 won’t let me do the artistic>plastic wrap filter. I’ve used this filter before so I know i can do it, but as far as this water tutorial photoshop won’t let me select the artistic category. do you know why this is? thanks. Etah

  3. I’ve just given this a try in a copy of CS2 and had no problems.. I’d suggest giving it another try and if you get stuck again, try copying the image at the end of step 3 (crtl+a, ctrl+shift+c) then paste it into a new canvas and continue to stage 4! Good luck.

  4. when i do this everything goes fine until i go to add the plastic wrap filter. When i go to filter-artistic, i am unable to click on artistic because it is grayed out. I have tried this several times and i am still unable to click on artistic. Im using photoshop cs3.