Photoshop tutorial: Add ice to a photo in Photoshop

Create a frosted, ice-cold effect that’s perfect for seasonal projects.

Intro


The arctic freshness of this image is familiar enough from countless drink and toothpaste commercials – but it could also be used to bring a wintery feel to any photo-based illustration, In this Photoshop tutorial, Fabio Sasso shows you how to reliably fake the effect from the warmth of your studio.

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Sasso is a master at making miniscule tweaks to layer styles, and in this tutorial you’ll give the entire Layer Styles palette a good workout to create amazing effects, such as the apparently 3D water droplets that stud the outside of the bottle. You’ll also develop your own custom brushes and make use of an amazing free smoke brush – both of which will stand you in good stead with your future Photoshop projects.

Software

Adobe Photoshop

Time to complete

1 - 2 hours

Step 1

STEP 1

First, set the background colour: in a new Photoshop document, create a fill of a solid jade green (I used #90aea7) or a chilly mid-blue. Then add a new layer and select Filter > Render > Clouds, ensuring you have black and white as the background and foreground colours respectively. Then select Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur, setting the radius to 180 pixels, and change the blending mode to Overlay.

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Step 2

STEP 2

Now let’s make the background lighter. With the cloudy layer selected, go to Image > Adjustments > Levels. Set the white input levels to 165 – this will increase the white areas of the image, creating a good background effect that’s highly versatile for a range of projects, and a great alternative to more conventional linear or radial gradients.

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Step 3

STEP 3

Next, we need to create the icy floor the bottle sits on. Add a new layer and fill it with white. Then go to Filter > Pixelate > Mezzotint, setting the type to Medium Dots. Then go to Filter > Blur > Motion Blur. Set the distance to 80 pixels and the angle to 0º. You might need to resize the layer a little bit after the Motion Blur filter, as the edges won’t be uniform and the same as in the middle of the layer.

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Step 4

STEP 4

The idea here is to make the floor fade away as though it’s an infinite background. We’ll be using a quick mask to do that. Hit Q to enter the Quick Mask mode and select the Gradient Tool (E). Create a gradient starting close to the bottom and going to the centre of the document. The red area in the quick mask mode is the part that will be shown; the transparent area will be hidden.

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When you’re happy with it, hit Q again and the quick mask will be transformed to a marquee selection. Then go to Layer > Layer Mask > Reveal Selection.


Step 5

STEP 5

For the bottle, we’ll be using an image from iStockphoto.com, which you can buy for a small cost from here. The image already has a clipping path; import it into the document.

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Step 6

STEP 6

To create the frozen-bottle effect, we need to create a brush that will give us a frosted effect. To do that repeat the same filter we used for the floor. Add a new layer and fill it with white, then go to Filter > Pixelate > Mezzotint. Select the Elliptical Marquee tool (M) and change the feather option to 50 pixels, then create an elliptical selection and go to Edit > Define Brush Preset. Rename the brush to ‘Frosted’.

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Step 7

STEP 7

Go to Window > Brushes (F5) and select the ‘Frosted’ brush, then enter the following settings to change the brush’s behaviour: in the Brush Tip Shape menu, change the spacing to 10%. In the Shape Dynamics menu, set the size jitter to 100% and the minimum diameter to 20%. In the Scattering menu, change the scatter to 120% and the count to 5. In Other Dynamics, set the opacity jitter to 50% and the flow jitter to 20%.

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Step 8

STEP 8

Now create another layer above the bottle layer and start painting using the Frosted Brush. It’s important to paint only over the bottle area, so use the Pen tool (P) to create a path around the bottle, then right-click (Cmd + click) and choose Make a Selection. Convert this selection a layer mask (Layer > Layer Mask > Reveal Selection) to mask out everything but the bottle, then paint using this mask.

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Step 9

STEP 9

Now let’s add a thick ice layer is some areas of the bottle. To do that we’ll need to create another brush. Go to the Brush Engine (F5) and select a regular rounded brush of about 100 pixels. Then enter the following settings: in the Shape Dynamics menu, set the size jitter to 100% and the minimum diameter to 1%. In the Scattering menu, set the scatter to 0% and the count to 3. In the Texture menu, select the Noise pattern and change the scale to 20%. In the Other Dynamics menu, set opacity jitter to 50% and the flow jitter to 40%.

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Step 10

STEP 10

Add another layer and mask it as in step 8, to make sure that you will paint only over the bottle area. Select your new brush in white and start painting some areas that will be frozen. Change the sizes of the brush using the keyboard shortcuts [ and ] to create a varied, more realistic effect – paint with a big brush first and then a very small one. Use a very light grey to create details, such as the shadows right below the bottle cap and the bottom of the neck of the bottle. These little details with the grey brush will add a great depth to the ice effect.

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Step 11

STEP 11

Add another layer and, using the same brush at a small diameter, carefully paint a border around the bottle: this will create the rough frozen edge. Also paint over the edges of the ice in the middle of the bottle to create a subtle 3D effect.

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Step 12

STEP 12

Add another layer, this time right above the frosted-effect layer and, using a normal rounded brush, paint some circles that will become water dots. Vary the size, but make most of them small, with only a couple of larger ones. Then select Layer > Layer Styles > Drop Shadow, setting this to 40% opacity, with the blend mode set to Color Burn, the distance set to 1 pixel and the size set to 2 pixels.

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Next, select the Inner Shadow menu and use 75% opacity, set the angle to 90º, the distance to 0 pixels and the size to 1 pixel. In the Bevel and Emboss menu, enter the following settings: depth – 730%; size – 4 pixels; soften – 3 pixels; angle – 151º; altitude – 37º; shadow mode – Color Burn with 30% opacity, in a dark red.


Step 13

STEP 13

To create the frozen text is simple. First type in your text – to keep it simple I used ‘ICE’ – then add another layer and start painting with the Ice brush we created in step 9. The important thing here is to make sure that the edges are not too uniform, you can even use the Eraser Tool (E) with the Ice brush to erase some areas. Next, use the Layer Style menu to create a shadow (Layer > Layer Styles > Drop Shadow). Set the angle to 90º, the opacity to 30%, the distance to 1 pixel and the size to 1 pixel.

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Finally, go to Edit > Transform > Warp – you can select a predefined setting or create one – and use it to make the text follow the bottle’s cylindrical shape. Make the height bigger in the centre of the text and shorter in the areas close to the edge of the bottle.


Step 14

STEP 14

Download the free brush set; once you’ve installed and activated the smoke brush, create a new layer beneath the bottle layer, and paint some small wisps of smoke around the bottle, as shown here.

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Step 15

STEP 15

Group all the layers involved in the bottle (not the floor or background layers) and duplicate the group. Go to Layer > Merge Group and then Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur, specifying a radius of 30 pixels. Change the blending mode to Screen and the opacity to 70%. Select the Eraser tool (E) and delete some areas. You’re trying to fake the effect of being in a cold environment. Keep adding details to the composition, such as some clouds in the background and a reflection on the floor.

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