How to Create an Ambient Wave Effect in Photoshop

Written by dan boone
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How to Create an Ambient Wave Effect in Photoshop
Use Adobe Photoshop software to create ambient waves. ( Images)

Computer-generated imagery, or CGI, is one of the key ways graphic designers create special visual effects, and Adobe Photoshop is a powerful program to achieve this. Adobe Photoshop has a built-in set of tools and capabilities that assist designers with simple to complex graphic effects. Creating ambient waves or waving oceans and flags is a standard computer graphic effect that can be accomplished in Adobe Photoshop.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Adobe Photoshop software

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  1. 1

    Choose the image you want to create the wave effect in. Make sure the resolution is at least 600 DPI to achieve maximum clarity of your final image. Place this image on your computer desktop for easy retrieval.

  2. 2

    Open your Adobe Photoshop application. Go to the menu bar. Choose "File" and scroll down to "Open." Browse your desktop and select the image your are using for the wave effect. From menu bar click "Select," then "Select All," then "Edit" and "Copy" the image. Create a new document by going back to "File" in the menu bar and choosing "New." A new window will open, verifying the size and DPI setting of your copied image. Click "New." An untitled blank window will appear in same size of the previously copied image.

  3. 3

    Create a black elliptical shape centred in the blank open window. Go to the menu bar and choose "Layer" and scroll to "New." A window opens and creates a new layer. Click "OK." Create a smaller white elliptical shape inside the black one. Choose "Move" tool from the tool bar. Position the white shape slightly off-centre to create overlap on top of black oval. Go to "Layer" in the menu bar and select "Merge Visible."

  4. 4

    Go to the menu bar and select "Filter" and scroll down to "Blur" and choose "Gaussian Blur." A size box window will appear. Make "Radius" three pixels. Click "OK" and save this image as "Waves."

  5. 5

    Open the image you first started with. Go to the menu bar and choose "Filter" and scroll down to "Distort" then to "Displace." A window will open. Make sure "Repeat Edge Pixels" is chosen with a black dot. Verify that horizontal and vertical scales are set for 10 per cent. Click "OK." Another window "Open" appears, prompting you to "Choose a Displacement Map." This means you need to choose the saved "Waves" image on your desktop. Click "Open." The image you wanted to create the ambient wave effect in should now contain the wavy CGI effect.

Tips and warnings

  • There are some shortcuts to use if you feel comfortable with the software.The Photoshop application contains a list of preset effects under the menu bar item "Filter." To use one of these preset filters, open the image in which you want the wave effect. Go to menu bar and choose "Filter" and scroll down to "Ocean Ripple." A window opens where you can adjust the ripple size and magnitude. Experiment with different sizes to create the ocean ripple effect you want. Or you can choose "Wave" from the preset filters. A window will open where you can set any number of waves.
  • When saving your finished product, choose "Save as" each time and appropriately title.

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