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by Wendi Elizabeth Martha Scarth


Butterfly Bubbles
Adobe Photoshop


 Manoeuvre Images Inside Soap Bubbles
  Suitable for Adobe Photoshop CS, CS2, CS3, CS4, CS5, CS6 & CC
Skill Level - Intermediate Plus

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This lesson demonstrates how to place images inside soap bubbles, and how to change a Layer’s Blending Modes: to work along, you are welcome to download the Start Images HereUnzip the file, and open its contents onto Photoshop’s workspace.

Understand The Workspace And Palettes

Included in the start images is a soap bubble that has been applied onto the butterfly image, as a separate layer; this is a workaround for students who find the soap bubble’s Layer won’t unlock.

Understanding Layers
Understanding Blending Modes
Apply Perspective Shadows And Reflections

Undo and Navigation Steps
Two ways of undoing steps are from the top menu, Edit then Step Backwards. Alternatively, click a previous snapshot in the History Palette.

Navigate (zoom in and pan) your image using the Navigator Palette,

or the Zoom Tool.

Activate The Hand Tool by tapping the Spacebar, keeping the Spacebar pressed, pan your image in the usual way.

Open your Start Images onto Photoshop’s workspace.

Omit Chapter 2 if you are working with the Layered Soap Bubble and Butterfly Image,
and proceed to Chapter 3 here.

From the Tools Toolbar, activate the Move Tool: then left-click and drag the soap bubble onto the butterfly image, as demonstrated below.

(To save PC resources, close the original Soap Bubble image).

You will find this easier if Auto select layer is not active.


Enlarge the bubble with the Free Transform Tool.


3/ Important
If the Flower Image’s Layer is a Background Layer, as illustrated below.

Unlock it by double-left-clicking it, and clicking OK to the subsequent dialogue box. 
The Background Layer will be unlocked, and it will be renamed Layer 0.

Ensure the Soap Bubble’s Layer, Layer 1, is highlighted - as illustrated below.

And with the Move Tool active; reposition the soap bubble over the butterfly.

If the butterfly image moves instead of the soap bubble, Step Backwards, and select the soap bubble again.

Still working on the soap Bubble Layer; from the Toolbar, activate the Magic Wand

And set the following attributes into the Tool Options Bar - ensuring Sample All Layers is unticked.

Now, left-click outside the soap bubble, and it (and the outer border) will be surrounded by a Selection Marquee - as illustrated below.

Then from the top menu, choose Select then choose Modify, then choose Expand
From the subsequent Expand Selection dialogue box, enter an Expand By setting of 2 (Pixels), then click OK.  This shrinks the Selection Marquee by 2 pixels.

Now, right-click inside the Selected Bubble: and from the subsequent drop-down menu, click Feather.


And enter a Feather Radius value of 2 Pixels, then click OK.

The Expand and Feather commands ensure the bubble blends with its new background.

7/ Important
Now, from the Layers Palette, activate the Butterfly Image (Layer 0) - as illustrated

Then press your Keyboard’s Delete Key. (Alternatively, from the top menu, choose Edit then choose Clear). 

The area outside of the soap bubble will then be removed, and you will see the following chessboard effect.


Now, from the Layers Palette, activate the Top Layer: then from the top menu, choose Layer then choose Merge Visible.

Then from the top menu, choose Select then choose Deselect - or press Ctrl then D.
Now, activate the Move Tool - and drag the butterfly/bubble onto the seascape background image. 

(To save PC Resources, close the original butterfly background image).


As you can see by my example above, the butterfly inside the bubble has retained its blue background - this would blend with the blue sky of the seascape image; however, when it is placed over the rock, the sandstone doesn’t show through the bubble as it would in reality - this is where
Layer Blend Modes can help by blending the butterfly image with its background.

With the Move Tool active: drag the bubble over the sky area. Now, you may be happy with the blend between bubble and sky - however, it is worth experimenting with various Layer Blend Modes to see how they can change its appearance against the blue sky. Therefore, from the Layers palette, click the tiny arrows highlighted below - you will then be presented with a choice of Blend Modes.

Experiment with different Blend Modes to see how they blend the bubble with its background - I have chosen Vivid Light.

Scroll Through The Blend Modes Tip
To quickly scroll through each Blending Mode, click open the Blend Mode drop-down list as usual,
Blending Mode Lesson Here. Then left-click (and release) anywhere over the drop-down list. Now, immediately tap your keyboard’s up - or down arrows, and your image will automatically scroll though, and display different Blend Modes.

Blending Modes
change a layer’s appearance depending on the layer beneath it; and the Blending Mode - they have no effect on single layers.

Ensure the Bubble Layer remains active: then from the top menu, choose Layer then choose Duplicate Layer, then click OK. (It is not necessary to name it, unless you want to). Now, move this second bubble so it covers the rocky outcrop - as illustrated below

Although the bubble remains transparent, the Vivid Light Blend Mode needs to be changed. Therefore, from the Layers palette, change the Blend Mode (of this duplicated bubble layer) to Hard Light - or experiment. The Hard Light Blend Mode changes the bubble to the following.

To reduce the second bubble’s size: from the top menu, choose Edit then choose Free Transform.  Hover your cursor over the top right transformation box, and when you see the double arrow (highlighted with white). 

Left-click, and drag the box diagonally towards its opposite side - this reduces the bubble’s size. 

To reduce the bubble’s size proportionally; first press and keep pressed, your Keyboard’s Shift Key, then resize the bubble. 

diagonally down butt

Then from the Options Bar, click the following Commit transform tick - or press Enter/Return

Your second bubble will resemble the following.

Now, Duplicate the second bubble, then reduce its size - and move it to the left.

Experiment with different Blend Modes - I changed mine to Lighten.

Activate their respective layers in the Layers palette; and consecutively reposition each bubble - with the Move Tool, until you are happy with their positions.

It is time to apply a Perspective Shadow - I am applying an Eyecandy 5 Impact Perspective Shadow. Ensure the large bubble is the active Layer in the Layers Palette, then from the top menu, choose Filter then choose Eyecandy 5 Impact then choose Perspective Shadow - and enter the following settings, then click OK.



Your image will resemble the following.

(There are many different shadows to choose from; therefore, experiment and discover the best look for you).

Create Perspective Shadows And Reflections
To create a perspective shadow from scratch, (from the Layers Palette), right-click the large Bubble’s Layer. Then from the drop-down list, click Duplicate Layer. Now, working on this newly Duplicated Layer, from the top menu, choose Edit then choose Transform Path, then choose Perspective. Your Duplicated Bubble will be surrounded by a Transformation Bounding box. Now, reposition the duplicated bubble over the water, and experiment with the three lower square nodes (tiny rectangle boxes), and deform your bubble to a nice perspective. After you have familiarised yourself with this setting, you’re able to create convincing perspective shadows - additionally, experiment with different Layer Blend Modes, and see how uniquely the shadows can blend with the water.

Create Graduated Reflections On-line Tutorial
Create Reflections Using CS3/4/5/6’s Clone Tool Palette On-line Tutorial
Create Water Reflections PDF Tutorial
Create Reflections From Type PDF Tutorial
Create Reflections From Objects PDF Tutorial
Create Reflections From Photographs PDF Tutorial
Create Reflections Using The Liquify Filter PDF Tutorial

To finish, activate the medium Bubble’s Layer, (in the Layers Palette) and apply a Perspective Shadow - keeping its previous (Eyecandy) settings. Then activate the small Bubble’s Layer, and again apply a Perspective Shadow, with the same settings.

Congratulations, your image is complete: to finish - from the top menu, choose Layer then Flatten Image. To save your work, from the top menu, choose File then choose Save for Web - or Save or Save As
Optimise And Save Your Work.

Wendi E M Scarth -
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