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How To Turn An Ordinary Fish Bowl Into Something Fun!

Are you ready for some photo manipulation fun? In this tutorial, I’ll teach you how to create a fish bowl from scratch and fill it with a variety of fishes and sea animals for a lively underwater photo manipulation.

Software: Adobe Photoshop CC Difficulty: Advanced Completion Time: 4 hours

Images Used For This Tutorial

Step 1

Open a New Document in Photoshop that is 900×900 pixels. Now use the Ellipse Tool (U) to create two circles, one for the main fish bowl and a smaller for the opening. Resize the shapes to fit together well just by hitting Control-T to Free Transform.

Once both circles are lined up together, right-click both layers to rasterize them. Then use the Eraser Tool (E) to erase the top section of the large circle to create a better bowl shape.

Step 2

Add a quick gradient to the background. Right-click the background layer and go to Blending Options. Select Gradient Overlay and add a white to light blue linear gradient at 25% Opacity for the background.


Next, use the Magic Wand Tool (W) to select the inner part of the fish bowl. Fill the fish bowl with a sea blue color (#92d0e6) and then use the Eraser Tool (E) to softly erase the top part of the solid color.

Step 3

Let’s add more volume to the bowl. Use the Magic Wand Tool (W) again to select both inner parts of the fish bowl. Now use a large Soft Round Brush (B) to lightly shade around the bowl so that it looks rounder. Painting within the selection will help keep the shading clean.


Create a quick shadow for underneath the bowl by using the Ellipse Tool (E) to create a dark blue (#115273) circle. Then go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur and to blur the circle with a radius of 29 pixels.

Creating the Underwater Effect

Step 4

Open up both your water surface pictures in Photoshop. Use the Magic Wand Tool (W) to select the white areas and hit delete to remove them. Copy and Paste both images onto the fish bowl and layer them to fit better. Erase any unwanted water and resize or even warp them by hitting Control-T to Free Transform.

Step 5

Time for the sea effect! Copy and paste your underwater reference and adjust it to overlap the bowl. Create an easy selection of the fish bowl by using your original line layer from before to select the inner area. Right-click to select Inverse and hit delete to remove the excess for a perfectly clean cut!

To give the sea more depth and shadow, select the inner outline of the bowl again and use the Brush Tool (B) to paint deep blue shadow along the edges of the bowl.

Bowls tend to reflect light, so use the Brush Tool (B) again to paint soft blue light (#b3ddec) on both sides.

Step 6

Let’s add the fish! Extract all your fish from their backgrounds and Copy and Paste them onto the document. Adjust their sizes and flip some by going to Edit > Transform > Flip Horizontal.

Duplicate one fish several times to create a school of fish, and layer them on top of each other to create a better sense of depth.

Step 7

Make the scene more dynamic by adding some flying birds. Create a New Adjustment Layer of Curves and right-click to set it as a Clipping Mask to the bird’s layer. Adjust the RGB, Blue, and Green Channels to make the birds fit the colors.

Add Highlights and Finishing Touches

Step 8

Now for some highlights! Set a new layer to Overlay and use a foreground color of white to paint bright highlights all over the bowl with the Brush Tool (B).

Step 9

Merge all the layers of the fish bowl together and duplicate it by hitting Control-J. Rotate the duplicate so that it’s upside down in order to create a reflection. Adjust the Opacity of the layer, and use the Eraser Tool (E) to erase away any harsh edges.

Step 10

Finish your fish bowl by adding layers of bubbles with tiny white dots. Now it has truly come to life!

And that’s it! You can make your own scenes from scratch just by using Photoshop. Now that we’ve shown you this tutorial, have fun creating your own little underwater world!

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