About six months ago Sean posted Inspiration: Fire, Flames, and Infernos. I thought it would be appropriate and fun to take a look at the opposite end of the spectrum for some additional inspiration. Much like fire and flames, water and ice are prevalent in web and graphic design. Here is a showcase that will give you a taste of what is possible.
Creating Amazing Photomontages
Digital Arts Online published this influential tutorial from Nik Ainley that has inspired several Psdtuts+ reads to post their own work with these effects in the Psdtuts+ Flickr Group (some of which are seen in this post). Nik shows you how to take ordinary items like jeans and a shirt and create a stunning and realistic underwater look.
Sunken Ship Tutorial
This tutorial will help you to create a powerful underwater scene without the need to go diving or actually sink a ship. The author uses a typical photo of a boat as the starting point and winds up with something much more interesting. This type of design will allow for all kinds of creativity and improvisations with some willingness to experiment.
Realistic Water Running On Tap
This is a pretty simple tutorial with only a few steps to get a nice-looking flow of water for your Photoshop creations. Flowing water, of course, could be used in various ways besides just this example.
Add Realistic Water Drops to a Photo
Adding some water drops can give a photo a nice touch. There are a number of tutorials available for this purpose, including this one. In my opinion this is not a completely realistic effect, but it certainly can still be used effectively. In the case of this photo it makes the viewer feel more a part of the wave and the ocean.
Realistic Rain Tutorial
Rain can easily be added to a photo to create a completely different look. There are a few other tutorials on this subject (including this one at Photoshop Essentials) if you want to try some different approaches. Combined with the ability to alter and edit skies, any photo can get a serious makeover with this effect.
Add a Realistic Water Reflection
This popular tutorial shows one more way to enhance a photo by creating a realistic effect with water. The author uses a halftone, a blur, and a displacement to create the realistic look of reflecting water. The methods demonstrated in this tutorial could certainly be used creatively in some other ways as well.
Learn How to Digitally Paint an Underwater Galaxy
Psdtuts+ has also contributed a few tutorials involving water and ice, including this one by Brent Nelson (also see Collis’s tutorial for creating Icy Text). Brent uses a rather ordinary photo of some fish and plenty of imagination to create this impressive scene.
The Ocean’s Freshness Photo Effects
Learn how to create a fun, fresh underwater image featuring some fruit, from Adobe Tutorialz. It produces a more illustrated look as opposed to the realistic tutorials, which could be a nice change of pace.
Creating a Stunning Underwater Scene
GoMediaZine shows us how to create an awesome underwater scene using one of their own vector packs. This tutorial uses Illustrator and some GoMediaZine vectors (as well as Photoshop, of course) to create this beautiful illustration. It’s a pretty detailed tutorial that will take some time to follow, but I’m sure you’ll learn some new tricks.
Water Drops in 5 Minutes
Over at Abduzeedo, Fabio has a tutorial to quickly create very realistic water drops. This simple effect has plenty of potential. There are also some other good tutorials to create similar effects, including this one at deviantART.
Water Ripples Tutorial
This tutorial at deviantART will show you how to get a surprisingly realistic swirling water effect. It’s really just a few simple steps to create this.
Websites Using Water
This site has recently been featured in a number of design galleries. Design Disease shows that some creativity with water as a background can help to create an impressive look.
The Wheelhouse at Noss Mayo uses an illustration of a beach and water for the background of the site. The main content of the site sits in a white box (a postcard) while the water rests quietly in the background.
Quinn’s Reef Bed and Breakfast also uses a similar approach with an oceanic background. Obviously, a bed and breakfast located at a reef is a perfect fit for the oceanic theme. A nice clouded sky also helps to complete the look.
The site for Olson Sundberg Kundig Allen Architects uses several different large photos that rotate at random. If you refresh the page a few times you should see this striking photo of an ocean horizon.
Andrew Gransden Photography
This photography portfolio site uses an awesome photo of the shoreline in a random rotation of photos. A photography portfolio is always a good place to feature huge, beautiful photos, so why not a beach?
Using an illustration of water and the horizon, Tomas Pojeta gives his site a beautiful background. Scroll down a bit further and you’ll find an underwater scene as well.
Dizzain features a very memorable header of an underwater scene. If you’re interested in creating a similar header, try working with the sunken ship tutorial shown above, it should give you a starting point. There’s a lot going on in the water at Dizzain!
Water to Ice
An excellent illustration captures the transition point between ice and water. A similar result could actually be created in Photoshop without using any photos.
This photo is one of many with splashing water, but it also has some nice color as well. Capturing an image of splashing water in action always has a certain amount of intrigue.
This is a really cool photo of a hand over a fountain. This is a great example of experimentation with water and photography, and a striking end result.
Beads of Water
We linked to a few tutorials for creating drops of water. Here is a photo of the real thing. A simple photo of the wood texture and the droplets of water.
Ice Ice Ice
A nice photo of ice on a solid black background. Again, this could probably be replicated in Photoshop by a creative designer.
Great Beach HDR Pictures
Abduzeedo has an excellent collection of inspirational beach photos that are worth a look. This one that’s shown is just one example, the post has 14 photos that are sure to inspire your design creativity.
Amazing Water Landscapes
Another large collection of amazing photos of water. There is a good variety of photos here – pools, reflections, underwater, bodies of water, and more. Check them out and I think you’ll find something that you like.
Creations from the Psdtuts+ Flickr Group
Ashes to Splashes
Inspired by the Nik Ainley tutorial, oligoelement created this. He adds a nice touch by making the pants look like they’ve been blown off of the rest of the body.
An excellent photo from audiostein in the Flickr group. An up-close look at water dropping from an icicle with some nice lighting involved in the background.
This creation from simple entanglements takes a photo and gives it an interesting icy look. This is kind of the frozen version of adding water droplets such as in the tutorial of the surfer above.
This is another piece of work inspired by the Ainley tutorial, this one from loswl. Actually, this one is very similar to the original tutorial – nice work from a Psdtuts+ group member.
38 Water Brushes
A large collection of a variety of brushes for creating various water effects in Photoshop. Waterfalls, drops, flowing water and more are available in this pack of brushes.
30 Water Brushes Part II
This collection is a follow up to the one previously listed. If you didn’t get enough water the first time around, try these 30 in addition.
Round Ice Brushes
This is a collection for icy effects. These brushes really could be used in so many different ways as a texture, they’re really not limited to just creating ice.
Here’s a nice collection to get that splashing water effect in your work. This is one of the easier ways to get the look of splashing water in your designs.