How to

Draw a representation of the water surface and its reflection!

In this guide, we’ll demonstrate how to create a stunning illustration of a person with a captivating background or figure on a water surface. Drawing water and its reflection may seem daunting, but by following these step-by-step instructions, you’ll be able to effortlessly create a fresh and lifelike illustration.

Prepare the Illustration of a Person

To begin, sketch the figure on the water surface according to your preference. Divide the layers as follows: water surface (a solid color will suffice), shadow at the water/grass border, green background, and finally, the person themselves.

Figure on Water Surface

Invert the Figure’s Copy

Duplicate the person layer and flip it upside down. Utilize the “Move Horizontally/Vertically” feature of the Move tool to position it below the water layer and above the shadow layer. Ensure that the legs touch each other.

Inverted Figure

For a more natural look, apply a clipping mask or use the Eraser (soft) brush tool to create a gradual fade towards the edges of the reflection.

Draw Ripples

Create a new layer just below the flipped person layer (above the shadow layer). Using the white brush tool “Pen,” draw ripples on the water. Begin by overlapping ovals from the center and selectively erase portions to achieve a ripple-like effect.

Drawing Ripples

Feel free to draw the ripples freehand, as they will be blurred later on.

Trace with a Fingertip Brush

Select the brush tool “Smudge.” If it’s not available, add it from the “Add Brush” menu. Return to the inverted person layer and trace along the arrows in the image. Follow the gaps between the ripples, starting from the center of each ellipse.

Trace with Fingertip Brush

As you trace, the outlines of the figures in the water should become blurry and indistinct.

Continue to blur the remaining portion of the ellipse.

Continuing the Blur

Adjust the size of the fingertip brush and the line width as you move outward from the center.

Adjusting Brush Size

By now, you’ll have created a bumpy outline with waves. Proceed to trace the narrower parts of the wave from the outside towards the center.

Tracing the Waves

Note: It’s alright if you accidentally erase a portion of the person, as it adds to the illusion of depth.

With these steps, we have achieved a shimmering and translucent look for the water surface. Now, let’s add more texture to the water.

Apply Layers of Colors in Multiplication

Create a new layer above the inverted person layer and set it to “multiply.” Use a slightly darker shade of blue and a thick pen to fill in the gaps between the ripples. The amount should be similar to the image, offering a broken and slightly obscured reflection of the person.

Color Layers in Multiplication

Create White Edges

With the multiplication layer selected, go to the Select menu and create a selection based on opacity. Then, create a new layer above it and set the foreground color to white. Use the “Paint Selection Border” feature with a 3px width to add a white border.

White Edges

To make the white edges appear more natural, you can erase certain areas and further adjust them using the “blur” or “fingertip” tools.

Blur the Ripples

Return to the white ripple layer and apply the “Gaussian Blur” filter. Adjust the intensity of the blur to your liking.

Blurring the Ripples

Color Adjustment

For a touch of transparency, modify the colors of the underlying water layer and the multiplication layer. Create a gradient that transitions from a darker shade of blue at the bottom to a lighter shade at the top.

Color Adjustment

Now, the water surface exhibits a realistic watery texture. Feel free to experiment with different color hues, especially vibrant and high-saturation colors.


Congratulations! You have successfully created the illusion of a soft water surface, complete with gentle ripples and the reflection of a figure. To enhance the overall effect, consider adding airbrush effects or glimmers of light to make the water surface sparkle.

Final Result

This article provides a simple introduction, but through further exploration, you can apply this technique to create detailed water surface illustrations. Embrace the challenge and let your creativity flow!

Alexia Young

Hello and welcome to the world of Alexia. I am a passionate and dedicated artist who loves to create beautiful, mesmerizing art for everyone's walls. I believe in the importance of encouraging people to express their creativity and be happy.

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