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Glass Bowl
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Glass Bowl
Created by: Prof

We will create a transparent glass bowl and fill it with flowers and leaves. We will create a realistic effect using an approach of positioning parts of the image in a way to give a reflection result.

Download File Download File
The download file on the left contains a bouquet tube that I created and used to fill the bowl in this tutorial. You're welcome to use it as well, though you can of course use any other flowers, flora or other images if you wish so.


New Image

A. Set Up the Canvas

We will begin with a light blue canvas 300 x 300 pixels in order to see some of the initial effects of the glass bowl. Note: Because we will be creating an image with many layers, be sure to label your layers to reflect the particular image in that layer.

Create a new image:
– Width and Height = 300 x 300 pixels
– Resolution = 72 pixels/inch
– Background = Raster Background
– Color depth = 16 Million Colors
– Color = light blue (Red=180, Green=220, Blue=255; #B4DCFF)
– Transparent = unchecked

Promote the 'Background' layer to a layer: Right-click on the layer in the Layer palette for the context menu and select 'Promote Background Layer'. Right-click again on the now 'Raster 1' named layer and rename it to 'Background'.


In order to more accurately draw various parts of the bowl, I use the guides. You may need to change the guide color to better see it. I am using black.

  • First set the Ruler: Go to View || Rulers.
  • Now set the Guides: Go to View || Guides.
  • Set the Snap to Values: First go to View || Snap to Guides, then go to View || Change Grid, Guide & Snap Properties, click on the 'Guides' tab and select a value of 10 pixels for the snap value.
  • Finally set the horizontal and vertical guides to the position 150: Place your cursor into the ruler, hold the mouse button down and drag the guide to position. Right-click on the guide handle in the ruler area for a dialog to refine the coordinates if needed.

B. Create a Transparent Bowl

The technique used to create a transparent glass looking bowl is to first create a "bubble" using the feature 'Balls and Bubbles'. Then we will create parts of the bowl (front, back, top) as separate layers in order to later give the bowl perspective. We will position parts of the flower and flora images between the front and back bowl layers.


Step 1: Create a Ball-Shaped Glass Object

Using Effects || Artistic Effects || Balls and Bubbles, we will create a ball in the center of the canvas which has transparency. (Note: Experiment with all the settings to find those you like and which create a bowl look you want. The Bump Map and Environment Maps create the smoothness / roughness of the bubble as well as the pattern.)


New Raster Layer     Preset: Reset to Default Option

Create a new top raster layer labelled 'Ball'. Go to Effects || Artistic Effects || Balls and Bubbles. In the Balls and Bubbles dialog, first click on the Reset to Default button, then set the following:

Shape tab:
– Single Ball or Bubble = checked

Surface tab:
– Opacity = 0
– Shininess = 20
– Gloss = 60
– Material = Solid Color: White

Maps tab:
– Bump Map = checked: Twirl
– Smoothness = 100
– Depth = 50
– Size = 400
– Fit bump map = unchecked
– Environment Map = checked
– Opacity = 100
– Environment Map = checked
– Environment Pattern = Butterfly Wing

Illumination tab:
– Ambience: Maximum and Minimum = 0
– Add Light 1:
   – Position = centered
   – Color = light blue (R=161, G=201, B=255; #A1C9FF)
   – Highlight Size = 75
   – Back Light = unchecked
   – Bubble Light = unchecked
– Add Light 2:
   – Position = Edges (center with cursor)
   – Color = dark blue (R=0, G=106, B=188; #006ABC)
   – Highlight Size = 100
   – Back Light = checked
   – Bubble Light = unchecked

Click on OK to set the transparent bubble. In your Layer palette, set the Opacity = 50.


Zoom Tool     Selection Tool

Copy     New Raster Layer      Layer Visibility Off

Step 2: Create the Bowl Sections

a) Bowl Top

Create four additional guides: two vertical ones at the positions 60 and 240, and two horizontal ones at 140 and 160.

Zoom into your image to about 200%.

Use the Selection tool set to Ellipse, start at the center point (150,150) and drag outward to the vertical and horizontal guides. The ellipse will snap to the correct size. Now you can zoom back to 100%.

Copy the selection (Edit || Copy or Ctrl+C), create a new raster layer labelled 'Bowl Top', then go to Edit || Paste || Paste into Selection. Set the Opacity = 75, then turn off this layer.

Turn off the ruler and guides as well now as they are no longer needed (View || Rulers and View || Guides). Do not deselect yet.


Duplicate Layer     Layer Visibility Off      Zoom Tool

Eraser Tool  Preset: Reset to Default Option

b) Bowl Back

Highlight the 'Ball' layer in your Layer palette, duplicate it (right-click on the layer and select "Duplicate" from the pop-up menu) and rename it to 'Bowl Back'.

Turn off the 'Ball' layer, then go to Selections || Invert. Zoom into your image to about 250%.

Click on the Eraser tool in your Tools toolsbar and reset to default, then set Hardness = 100. Now on the duplicated ('Bowl Back') layer carefully erase below the bottom curve of the ellipse, being particularly careful at the edges so not to erase anything above the top curve of the ellipse.

Set the Opacity = 50, then turn off this layer. Do not deselect yet.


Duplicate Layer     Layer Visibility On     Zoom Tool

c) Bowl Front

Highlight the 'Ball' layer in your Layer palette, duplicate it again and rename the duplicated layer to 'Bowl Front'. Turn the visibility of the new layer on.

Your Eraser tool is still active; now on the 'Bowl Front' layer erase the top of the bubble, being particularly careful at the edges so not to erase anything below the selection.

Go to Selections || Invert, then erase inside the selection.

Set the Opacity = 50. Now you can deselect with Ctrl+D (Selections || Select None) and zoom out back to 100%.


Layer Visibility On

d) The Completed Bowl

Turn the visibility of the 'Bowl Top' and 'Bowl Back' layers back on.

Highlight the 'Bowl Back' layer and go to Image || Flip.

In your Layer palette, sort the top three layers as follows:
– Top Layer = Bowl Front
– Middle Layer = Bowl Top
– Bottom Layer = Bowl Back

Your bowl is now ready to be filled with flowers.


C. Add Flowers and Flora

In the next steps we use a technique to give the flowers and flora added to the bowl a more realistic appearance. This technique is used on each image added to or around the bowl and roughly works as follows:

  • Selecting the flower, vine or other flora and adding it to the image.
  • Positioning it between the 'Bowl Top' and 'Bowl Back' layers.
  • Using the Selection tool for a selection of a bowl part (usually the bowl front).
  • Copying the selected area into the 'Flower' layer.
  • Creating a new layer for this selection.
  • Enhancing this selection to appear behind glass.

Use any flower, flora or other images you want to fill your bowl. I used the tube that I created and that you can find in your download file. If you wish to use it, you can export it to your Tubes folder, or just open it in PSP and copy/paste it into the image.

New Raster Layer     Picture Tube Tool     Move Tool

Step 1: Add Flower as a Top Layer

Create a new top raster layer labeled 'Flower Top'.

Using the Picture Tube tool, add the Bouquet flower from your download. (Or you can just open this tube in PSP, copy it [Edit || Copy or Ctrl+C] and paste it into your 'Flower Top' layer as a new selection [Edit || Paste || Paste As New Selection or Ctrl+E], then deselect.)

Use the Mover Tool to position the flower so that some of it is below the top lip of the bowl front.

Later we will move this layer to position it behind the 'Bowl Front' layer.


Step 2: Divide the Flower into Two Parts

In this step we will divide the flower into two parts, one part being the above or top part and the other being the below part or part that is behind the glass front. This technique gives the flower a more realistic look as the bottom part of the flower can be enhanced in various ways.

New Raster Layer     Magic Wand Tool     Cut     Move Tool

Create a new raster layer below the 'Bowl Front' layer and label it 'Flower Bottom'.

Highlight the 'Bowl Front' layer in your Layer palette, use the Magic Wand tool and click into your image outside of the bowl. Go to Selections || Invert to have just the front bowl shape selected.

Now highlight the 'Flower Top' layer in your Layer palette and cut out the selection with Edit || Cut (Ctrl+X), which copies the selection and deletes it at the same time.

Highlight the 'Flower Bottom' layer and go to Edit || Paste || Paste into Selection. Deselect with Ctrl+D (Selections || Select None) and lower the Opacity of that layer to about 50.

Now the flower bottom appears behind the glass bowl front.


Step 3: Refraction of the Flower Bottom Part

There are various ways to create some distortion of the flower bottom part to give it an appearance of refraction by both light and water in the bowl. One could use the Deform tool, the Warp Brush tool set to Noise, or the Smudge tool. However, I prefer to use the Wave Distortion Effect.

Highlight the 'Flower Bottom' layer in your Layer palette and go to Effects || Distortion Effects || Wave:
– Horizontal Displacement:
   – Amplitude = 1
   – Wavelength = 2
– Vertical Displacement:
   – Amplitude = 0
   – Wavelength doesn't matter
– Edge Mode = Transparent

There you are!!! The flower has an appearance in the bowl of some distortion.


D. Final Comments

The basic technique has been illustrated with the flower. One could continue to enhance the image in various ways. In the image on the left I used the following techniques:

I added some vines under and behind the bowl. I divided the vine into its two parts: one part the front and the other part the behind. I made the selection using the 'Bowl Back' layer. I distorted the behind vine using the same Wave effect with no changes in the values. I also lowered the opacity some.

I then created a table using a layer just above the bottom layer and the Woodgrain Sculpture effect. I used the Deform tool to create a table top and then I created a table front to which I added a shadow.

I then used the Art Media || Brush Strokes effect to give the bottom layer a textured look with the Oil Preset setting. I added a window for another effect and set the picture using the Simple Caption script.

Enjoy – Prof –