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Design

How to Create a Wet Glass Action in Adobe Photoshop

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Difficulty:IntermediateLength:LongLanguages:
Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

In this tutorial, I'll show you how to create a wet glass effect on any photo. At the end of the tutorial, you'll have an action which will automate the entire process with a single click. This effect works with images of almost any size and resolution.

I'll try to explain everything in much detail so that everyone can follow along, even if this is your first time with Photoshop.

The action we'll be creating is part of the Wet Glass Photoshop Action. If you'd like to buy it, you can head over to GraphicRiver and visit Wet Glass Photoshop Action. The complete action has additional features like finger-drawing-on-wet-glass effect and other functionalities.

Wet Glass Photoshop Action promo image

What You'll Need

The following resources are needed during the tutorial:

1. How to Set Up Your Document

Step 1

First, open the subject photo on which you want to work. To open your photo, go to File > Open..., choose your photo, and click Open. Now, before we get started, we need to check a few things:

  1. Your photo should be in RGB Color mode and 8 Bits/Channel. To check this, go to Image > Mode.
  2. Your photo should be the Background layer. If it is not, go to Layer > New > Background from Layer.
  3. Click the fly-out list of the Layers panels and click Panel Options.... Make sure Add "copy" to Copied Layers and Groups is checked.
Wet Glass Action Photoshop Pre-requirements

Step 2

Now, let's start preparing the base for our action. We'll put it in a separate set for easier management. 

Go to Window > Actions or press F9 on the keyboard to open up the Actions panel.
Then, click the Create new set icon, name the set Wet Glass and click OK. We'll place the action inside this set.

Open Actions panel and create new Action Set

Step 3

Click the Create new action icon and name it Wet Glass Action.

Click Record to start recording all the subsequent steps in Photoshop.

Create new Action and start recording

2. How to Record an Action

From this point onwards, everything you do will be recorded, so please be careful and keep an eye on the Actions panel. If you make a mistake, click the Stop playing/recording icon, and delete the unnecessary step from the Wet Glass action. Then click the Begin recording icon again to continue. The last thing you'd want is to have a messy action filled with unwanted steps.

Step 1

Press on your keyboard to reset swatches.

With the Background layer selected, press Control-J or Command-J to duplicate the layer. 

Go to Layer > Rename Layer... and rename the duplicated layer as Original. Make sure only the Original layer is selected and press Control-G or Command-G to add it to a new group.

Go to Layer > Rename Group... and rename the group as Wet Glass Action. We'll add all our further layers into this group to keep everything organised.

Right now, your Actions and Layers panels should have the below contents.

Initial grouping and preparation

Step 2

Now, select the Original layer and again press Control-J or Command-J to duplicate the layer. Go to Layer > Rename Layer... and rename the duplicated layer as Blurred.

Then go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur..., enter Radius: 50 Pixels, and click OK.

Add Gaussian Blur of Radius 50 Pixels to layer Blurred

Step 3

Go to Layer > Layer Mask > Reveal All to add a layer mask to the Blurred layer.

Add Layer Mask to layer Blurred

Step 4

Go to Layer > New > Layer... to add a new layer above Blurred. Name the new layer as Water Drips.

Add layer Water Drips

Step 5

Select the Original layer and press Control-J or Command-J to duplicate the layer. Go to Layer > Rename Layer... and rename the duplicated layer to Overlay. Now, click and drag it above the Water Drips layer.

Then, go to Layer > Create Clipping Mask to add the Overlay layer as a clipping mask to the Water Drips layer.

Actions and Layers panel before adding Water Drips

Your Actions and Layers panels should now have the above structures.

Step 6

Now, we'll add water drips.

Select the Water Drips layer. Go to Select > All, and you'll find that the whole canvas area will get selected. Then, go to Select > Transform Selection.

Keep Reference point location at Center, and enter Width: 3% and Height: 80%. Click the Tick button on the top toolbar or press Enter or Return to confirm.

Adding first water drip

Go to Select > Modify > Smooth..., enter Sample Radius: 5 pixels, and click OK.

Again go to Select > Transform Selection. Keep Reference point location at Center and enter Angle: 0.2. Click the Tick button or press Enter or Return to confirm.

Modifying selection for water drips

Step 7

Press on your keyboard to reset swatches. Then, press Alt-Delete or Option-Delete to fill the selection with Foreground Color. Press Control-D or Command-D to deselect the selection. You'll have something like below.

Effect after filling selection with color

Step 8

In the next few steps, we'll add similar patterns with different dimensions.

We'll use this rather lengthy and repetitive process just to avoid errors when this action is run on other images. Simply making rectangular selections with the Marquee Tool may not always work for every other image.

Press Control-A or Command-A and then go to Select > Transform Selection. Keep Reference point location at Center and enter Width: 25%. Click the Tick button or press Enter or Return to confirm.

Modifying selection

Go to Select > Transform Selection. Select Reference point location at Left, and enter Width: 5%, Height: 80% and Angle: -0.2. Click the Tick button or press Enter or Return to confirm.

Modifying selection

Go to Select > Modify > Smooth..., enter Sample Radius: 5 pixels and click OK.

Then, press Alt-Delete or Option-Delete to fill the selection with Foreground Color.

Step 9

Again, go to Select > Transform Selection. Keep Reference point location at Center, and enter Width: 850%Height: 110% and Angle: 1. Click the Tick button or press Enter or Return to confirm.

Modifying selection

Go to Select > Transform Selection. Select Reference point location at Right, and enter Width: 13% and Height: 80%. Click the Tick button or press Enter or Return to confirm.

Modifying selection

Press Alt-Delete or Option-Delete to fill the selection with Foreground Color.

Step 10

Go to Select > Transform Selection. Keep Reference point location at Center, and enter Width: 500% and Angle: -0.7. Click the Tick button or press Enter or Return to confirm.

Modifying selection

Go to Select > Transform Selection. Select Reference point location at Bottom-Right, and enter Width: 17%Height: 78% and Angle: -0.8. Click the Tick button or press Enter or Return to confirm.

Modifying selection

Press Alt-Delete or Option-Delete to fill the selection with Foreground Color. Press Control-D or Command-D to deselect the current selection.

Step 11

Right-click on the Water Drips layer thumbnail and select Select Pixels.

Selecting pixels of Water Drips layer

Go to Select > Transform Selection. Select Reference point location at Right, and enter Width: -100% and Height: -100%. Click the Tick button or press Enter or Return to confirm.

Modifying selection

Again, go to Select > Transform Selection. Select Reference point location at Right and enter Width: 88%. Click the Tick button or press Enter or Return to confirm.

Modifying selection

Press Alt-Delete or Option-Delete to fill the selection with Foreground Color. Press Control-D or Command-D to deselect the current selection.

Your image should now look like this:

Effect after adding part of the water drips

Step 12

In the following steps, we'll add more water drips.

Select the Blurred layer. Go to Layer > New > Layer..., name the new layer as temp and click OK.

Then select the Water Drips layer, right-click on the layer thumbnail, and select Select Pixels.

Making temp layer and selecting pixels of layer Water Drips

Select the temp layer and press Alt-Delete or Option-Delete to fill the selection with Foreground Color.

Step 13

Select the Water Drips layer and go to Select > Transform Selection. Select Reference point location at Right and enter Width: -100%. Click the Tick button or press Enter or Return to confirm.

Modifying selection

Again, go to Select > Transform Selection. Select Reference point location at Right, and enter Width: 93% and Angle: 0.8. Click the Tick button or press Enter or Return to confirm.

Modifying selection

Press Alt-Delete or Option-Delete to fill the selection with Foreground Color. Press Control-D or Command-D to deselect the current selection.

Step 14

Select the temp layer, right-click on the layer thumbnail, and choose Select Pixels.

Selecting pixels of temp layer

Select the Water Drips layer.

Go to Select > Transform Selection. Select Reference point location at Left and enter Width: -100%. Click the Tick button or press Enter or Return to confirm.

Modifying selection

Again, go to Select > Transform Selection. Select Reference point location at Left, and enter Width: 92% and Angle: 0.4. Click the Tick button or press Enter or Return to confirm.

Modifying selection

Press Alt-Delete or Option-Delete to fill the selection with Foreground Color. Press Control-D or Command-D to deselect the current selection.

Step 15

Select the temp layer and press Delete on the keyboard to delete it. Then select the Water Drips layer. Right-click and select Convert to Smart Object.

We are converting the Water Drips layer to a Smart Object so that the next filters are added to it non-destructively. Also, after running the final action, you can double-click to open it in a new Smart Object edit window and modify the water drips.

At this point, your image should look like below.

Effect after adding all water drips

Step 16

Go to Filter > Distort > Wave... and enter the following values:

  • Number of Generators: 28
  • Wavelength: Min. 1, Max. 221
  • Amplitude: Min. 1, Max. 2
  • Scale: Horiz. 100%, Vert. 1%
  • Type: Sine
  • Undefined Areas: Repeat Edge Pixels
Applying Wave Filter on the water drips

Now, go to Filter > Distort > Ripple... and enter the following values:

  • Amount: 175%
  • Size: Medium
Applying Ripple Filter on the water drips

Now, your image will look like below.

Effect after applying filters on water drips

Step 17

Go to Layer > Layer Mask > Reveal All to create a layer mask to the Water Drips smart object.

Select the Water Drips smart object thumbnail and then select its Layer Mask thumbnail (this is to confirm that the layer mask is always selected at this point and prevent any error).

Press on your keyboard to reset swatches.

Go to Filter > Render > Clouds.

Adding Clouds to Water Drips layer mask

Step 18

Next, press Control-L or Command-L to bring up the Levels adjustments window. Change the Highlight level to 150 and click OK.

Adjusting Levels of Layer Mask of Water Drips layer

Step 19

Press Control-A or Command-A to select the entire canvas area.

Then go to Select > Transform Selection. Keep Reference point location at Center, and enter Width: 50% and Height: 50%. Click the Tick button or press Enter or Return to confirm.

Modifying selection

Next, go to Select > Modify > Smooth... and enter Sample Radius: 100 pixels and click OK.

Then go to Select > Modify > Feather... and enter Feather Radius: 40 pixels and click OK.

Modifying selection

Step 20

Select the Layer Mask of the Water Drips layer.

Press D on the keyboard to reset swatches (make sure the Foreground Color is White).

Go to Edit > Fill..., and select Contents: Foreground Color and Opacity: 92%. Then, click OK.

Filling selection with colour on Water Drips Layer Mask

Press Control-D or Command-D to deselect the current selection.

Step 21

Select the Water Drips smart object thumbnail to select the RGB channel of the layer.

Press Control-T or Command-T to free transform the smart object. Keep Reference point location at Center, and enter Width: 110% and Height: 110%. Click the Tick button or press Enter or Return to confirm.

Modifying selection

Now, your image and Layers structures will look like this:

Final effect of the Water Drips
Layer structure after applying Water Drips

Step 22

Select the Overlay layer.

In the next steps, we'll add the wet glass image. We'll do it in such a way that while running the final action, the image needs to be manually added and adjusted. We'll insert a Stop with an appropriate message prompt telling us to add and resize the image.

Click the fly-out list of the Actions panel and select Insert Stop....

Inserting Stop to add message prompt

In the Record Stop prompt window, add an appropriate Message as below.

Remember to check the Allow Continue checkbox and click OK.

Adding message in the prompt

Here I've added the below message:

In the next step you need to manually add the Wet Glass panel.

A new Browse window will open, and from there select the Wet Glass image provided. 
Select the image and click "Place".

After the image gets added into Photoshop, you can adjust the size by dragging the corner/side nodes. 
When done, press "Enter/Return" or click the "Tick" button on the top toolbar.

Now press "Continue" to proceed.

However, you can add your own message.

Step 23

Go to File > Place... (go to File > Place Embedded... for Adobe Photoshop CC 2015.5 and above). A new Browse window will open, and from there select Wet Glass JPG Image.

Then click Place.

Browse and select Wet Glass JPG Image

Drag the corner/side nodes and resize the wet glass image to cover your main image.

Resize the Wet Glass image to cover the main subject

Remember to click and enable the Dialog for the Place command.

This step is important as currently the path to the wet glass image is pointing to your local file location. Enabling the Dialog allows other users to select the image from their file location in different systems.

Dont forget to add the action dialog to the Place command

Step 24

Go to Layer > Rename Layer... and rename the image layer as Wet Glass Panel.
Right-click and select Blending options.... Set Blend Mode: Hard Light and Opacity: 62%. Click OK to confirm.

Adjust Blending Mode and Opacity of the Wet Glass image

Step 25

Go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Vibrance..., name it Wet Glass Vibrance, and click OK. Enter a Vibrance value of -100.

Adjust Vibrance of Wet Glass Vibrance adjustment layer

Right-click on the Wet Glass Vibrance layer and select Create Clipping Mask to add it as a clipping mask to the Wet Glass Panel layer.

Your image and the Layers panel structure should now be as below.

Layers structure after applying Wet Glass panel

3. How to Make Further Adjustments

Step 1

Select the Blurred layer and go to Layer > Rename Layer... to rename it as Blurred More. Hide it by toggling the eyeball icon off.

Step 2

Select the Original layer and press Control-J or Command-J to duplicate the layer. Go to Layer > Rename Layer... and rename the duplicated layer as Blurred Average.

Go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur..., enter Radius: 25 Pixels, and click OK.

Go to Layer > Layer Mask > Reveal All. Hide the layer by toggling the eyeball icon off.

Adding Blurred Average layer

Step 3

Again, select the Original layer and press Control-J or Command-J to duplicate the layer.
Go to Layer > Rename Layer... and rename the duplicated layer as Blurred Soft.

Go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur..., enter Radius: 10 Pixels, and click OK.

Blurred Soft layer blur value

Go to Layer > Layer Mask > Reveal All.

Now, we have three different blur strength layers, which can be easily turned on/off by toggling the eyeball icons.

Step 4

Select the Original layer and press D on the keyboard to reset swatches.

Now, select the Wet Glass Vibrance layer and go to Layer > New Fill Layer > Gradient.... Name it Vignette and click OK.

Enter the following values: Style: Radial, Angle: 90Scale: 250%, check Reverse and click OK. Change the blending mode of the layer to Soft Light from the drop-down menu.

Step 5

Go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Brightness/Contrast..., name the layer Overall Brightness/Contrast, and click OK. Enter the values Brightness: 5 and Contrast: 10.

Go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Curves..., name the layer Overall Curves and click OK.

Go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Vibrance..., name the layer Overall Vibrance and click OK. Enter the value Vibrance: +5.

Go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Levels..., name the layer Overall Levels and click OK.

Adding and adjusting overall adjustment layers

Your Layers panel structure should now be as below.

4. How to Tidy Up Your Groups

In the next steps, we'll organise the layers into logical groups and colour code them for ease of use.

Step 1

Select the Overall Brightness/Contrast layer, hold Shift on the keyboard, and select the Overall Levels layer. Press Control-G or Command-G to group the layers together. Go to Layer > Rename Group... and rename it as Overall Adjustments.

Right-click on the group and select the slot colour Gray.

Organising Adjustment Layers to Overall Adjustments Group

Step 2

Select the Vignette layer. Right-click and select the slot colour Gray.

Organising Vignette layer

Step 3

Select the Wet Glass Vibrance layer. Right-click and select the slot colour Blue.

Select the Wet Glass Panel layer. Right-click and select the slot colour Blue.

Organising Wet Glass Vibrance and Wet Glass Panel layers

Step 4

Select the Overlay layer. Right-click and select the slot colour Red.

Select the Water Drips smart object. Right-click and select the slot colour Red.

Organising Overlay and Water Drips layers

Step 5

Select the Blurred More layer, hold Shift on the keyboard, and select the Blurred Soft layer. Press Control-G or Command-G to group the layers together. Go to Layer > Rename Group... and rename it as Blurred.

Now, right-click on the group and select the slot colour Yellow.

Organising layers into Blurred Group

Step 6

Select the Original layer. Right-click and select the slot colour Green.

Now, finally, your Layers panel structure will look like this:

Layers structure after grouping and colour coding layers

5. Finish Recording the Action

Stop recording by clicking the Stop playing/recording button.

Stop recording the action

Awesome, You've Done It!

Here is your final result!

Great job! You've finished creating the Wet Glass Photoshop Action.

You can now apply the effect onto any other image. Just open the image and click Play from the Actions panel.

Wet Glass final result

How to Customise Your Result

1. How to Change the Wet Glass Panel

Now, I'll show you how to change the wet glass panel.

Step 1

Select the Wet Glass Panel layer and double-click on the Smart Object thumbnail to open it in a new Smart Object edit window.

Change Wet Glass panel

Step 2

Go to File > Place... (go to File > Place Embedded... for Adobe Photoshop CC 2015.5 and above) and add a new Wet Glass image.

Place a different wet glass image

Step 3

Go to Layer > Flatten Image and press Control-S or Command-S to save the Smart Object. Close the Smart Object edit window and the new glass image will get updated.

Final effect after applying a different wet glass image

2. How to Modify the Water Drops

Step 1

Select the Water Drips layer and double-click on the Smart Object thumbnail to open it in a new Smart Object edit window.

Water Drips opened in a Smart Object edit window Modify it save and close it to affect the main image

Step 2

You can modify the water drips by resizing, rotating, or duplicating.

Press Control-J or Command-J to duplicate. Press Control-T or Command-T to bring up the Free Transform Tool. Drag the corner/side nodes to resize/rotate the drips. Press Enter or Return to confirm.

Then, press Control-S or Command-S to save the Smart Object, and close it to update the main image.

3. How to Tweak Your Adjustment Layers

Step 1

Expand the Overall Adjustment group and double-click on an adjustment layer thumbnail to open it. Modify it to affect the whole image. You can also add new adjustment layers and experiment.

Tweak Overall Adjustment layers

Step 2

Let's change the Overall Curves and the Overall Vibrance layers to the following values.

Changing values of Overall Curves and Overall Vibrance layers

This is what we'll get.

Final image after tweaking the adjustment layers

That's All!

We have reached the end of the tutorial. Here you've learned how to add a wet glass effect on any photo and also automate it in a one-click Photoshop action.

We started out with a stock image, dynamically constructed the water drips, placed the wet glass image, and finally changed the glass image and made other adjustments.

I hope you've enjoyed this tutorial and found it helpful. Feel free to leave your comments below, and thanks for reading. This action we just created is part of Wet Glass Photoshop Action.

Wet Glass Photoshop Action promo image
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