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Simulate clear liquid in glass with a layer mask and blending

Added on Friday 1st of July 2011 09:24 am EST


Adobe Photoshop CS2/CS3/CS4/CS5

Operating Systems:

Macintosh, Microsoft Windows


When working with stock photography, you can’t always get what you want. You might find the perfect bottle, for example, but it’s empty when you need it to be full. It’s times like this when you need to think creatively by using Photoshop to fill that empty bottle with whatever you like.


To simulate liquid in a bottle, we’ll show you how to:

•  Use multiple layers to manipulate an image on different levels.

•  Create and fill selections with color to create the appearance of a liquid substance.

•  Blend layers so overlapping colors interact the way you want them to.

•  Use layer masks to selectively hide image areas.


Filling a glass with liquid in Photoshop is kind of tricky because both elements are transparent and riddled with reflections. You have to be careful not to diminish these qualities in the glass as you add them to the liquid. And, at the same time, you have to make the liquid appear as though it’s truly inside the bottle, as shown in Figure A. We’ll show you how it’s done in this article.




Fill‘er up

To begin, choose an image of an empty bottle or glass that you want to fill with liquid. To follow along with our example, download the file from the URL given at the beginning of this article, and extract the file perfume.jpg. (Images provided by PhotoSpin. Some images modified for educational purposes.) Open your image file in Photoshop and create a duplicate in which to work.


To duplicate an image file:

1.  Choose Image > Duplicate.

2.  Name the duplicate file in the resulting dialog box.

3.  Click OK.


Step 1: Create a layer mask

To make the liquid look like it’s inside your bottle, you need to duplicate the Background layer and sandwich the layer on which you’ll create the liquid between the image layers. The Background Copy layer isn’t actually transparent glass, though, so you’ll need to create a layer mask that you’ll use to hide the fill on the layer underneath and change the blending mode.


To duplicate the Background layer:

1.  Choose Window > Layers or press [F7] to display the Layers panel.

2.  Drag the Background layer to the Create A New Layer button at the base of the Layers panel.


To create a layer mask:

1.  Create a selection around the label on the Background Copy layer, as...


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