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How To Apply A Wavy Effect

This tutorial shows you how to apply a wavy effect to a banner using highlights and shadows, in the process creating a 3D effect to any object. Explore it now!

This tutorial assumes that you are familiar with the concept of Layers.

(Banner is a combination of Image ID: 2900875 © darrenwhi, 1895796 © Markus and 531921 © Gino


First, create a canvas: 1600 x 1600 pixels

Next, find an image from (preferably rectangular shaped) and drag it into the canvas.

Resize it so that it is smaller than the canvas. This image should be named Layer 1.


Create another Layer (Layer > New > Layer) with a size that is larger than your original image in Layer 1.

Using the Marquee tool, draw a rectangular box across the canvas. Hold down the SHIFT key and draw several other similar boxes like our example above.

Once done, fill the Marquees with black color.


Go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur

Set value = 30 (higher or lower, depending on the boxes you have created)


Press CTRL+T/CMD+T and transform the object in Layer 2 into a rectangular shape that covers your original Layer 1 image.

Warp the object using the Warp tool. Go to Edit > Transform > Warp.

Next, drag the points (sides and middle parts) until the desired wave is achieved (when you determine how your wave should look like).


Click on Layer 2. Select all (CTRL+A/CMD+A) and copy (CTRL+C/CMD+C) the now distorted Layer 2.

Create a new file (CTRL+N/CMD+N) with the same width and height (1600 x 1600 pixels). Press CTRL+V/CMD+V to paste the distorted Layer 2 on it.

Then, flatten the image (Layer > Flatten Image), and save it as eg. “wave1.psd“. This serves as a displacement map that we will be using later on.

Close “wave1.psd” after saving.


Go back to the main file. Select Layer 2.

Apply Filter > Stylize > Emboss Set Angle = -147 Height = 20px Amount = 200

You may change the values you see here based on your needs.


The applied filter should look something like the image above.


Next, distort the source image – Layer 1. (Layer 2 has been reduced of its opacity to aid in the distortion of source image)

Using the warp tool once more, drag the shape according to the waves created. Press theENTER key when desired shape is achieved.


Now that we’ve got the shape, go to: Filter > Distort > Displace

Set Horizontal scale = 5 Vertical scale = -5

Select Stretch to Fit and Repeat Around Edges. You can apply the filter once more by pressing CTRL+F/CMD+F.


Select Layer 2 and duplicate it as “Layer 2 copy”. Now we’ve got two same layers.

Reselect Layer 2 again. Set blending mode = Multiply layer opacity = 30% (depending on how dark the shadows needs to be).

The same displacement can also be added to this layer (CTRL+F/CMD+F), as it adds a bit more depth to the waves.

Step 11

Select Layer 2 Copy. Set blending mode = Multiply layer opacity = 30% (depending on how bright the highlights needed to be).

Step 12

Press Ctrl and click on layer 1. Select layer 2, and set Layer > Layer mask > Reveal All.

Repeat the same step for Layer 2 copy.


Select Layer 1, Layer 2, and Layer 2 Copy.

Merge them (CTRL+E/CMD+E) and you’re done.

You might want to trim the edges of the final image, add brightness or even explore different blend modes and properties to yield a different outcome.

If you liked our tutorial, feel free to share it with your friends or even bookmark it!

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