Create your own version of ‘Making Friends’

If you are into creating art using Adobe Photoshop, photography, compositing and or 3d rendering maybe you will find this ‘Making Friends Photoshop Kit‘ a nice way to learn the techniques I use and create your own version of this artwork or let it inspire you to create an original piece using the assets in this pack.

Kit containts

  • A sky with beach background image
  • Under water environment with light rays
  • Separate renders of the whale in different positions also horizontal
  • Separate renders of the girl in the boat (close or further away, with and without water, petting or rowing the boat
  • Separate water surface image
  • Water splash brush
  • And last but certainly nog least the complete PSD file with all the layers, layer masks, etc.
  • A commercial license. Yes you can sell the end results you create with this Kit and Tutorial.

As you can see you will receive a complete kit for creating this artwork yourself or change the artwork that is supplied to your own likings.

The end results you produce as a flat image or export can be used any way you see fit, commercial or otherwise. The separate included files including the PSD file can never be (re)sold and can only be used by you, the buyer for creating your own work.

You can buy the Making Friends Complete Photoshop Kit in my Etsy store.

Using the Making Friends Kit

Create a new document 4000 pixels wide and 6000 pixels high with a 240ppi density. I resized the supplied PSD file to make the download smaller. All other files are very high resolution.

Save the file to something you can recognise. Pre saving makes sure you can easily save your progress and gives Photoshop a better chance to recover if it crashes.

Load the background sky you want to use. In this example I will use the free to use photo by Ferdinand Stöhr on Unsplash. I often search for usable images on Unsplash or to find some inspiration by browsing the photo’s.

Place a part of the background sky at to top of the image. I usually drag the file into the open project in Photoshop to do this but you can also click on File from the menu and select Place embedded and use the dialog box to find the file you are looking for. Press CMD or CTRL + T to make the layer free transformable so you can resize and move the layer around.

Create a new layer and place it above the Sky in the layer stack and name it sunlight.
Choose a small white (or soft yellow) soft round brush with an opacity of 10% and flow of 100% and click on the bottom part of the sky somewhere in the middle. Now without moving the mouse pointer make your brush larger with the [ key and again click. Repeat this a couple of times where you enlarge the brush more often (press [ twice or three times) when the brush gets larger as to create a softer feather of glow.

Next we add the under water environment by placing it on top of the layer stack and after placing the under water environment place the whale file you choose somewhere on the left part of the screen. To make sure the underwater file isn’t overlapping with the sky I added a layer mask and with a black brush set to 100% opacity I masked out the top part of the underwater environment layer. Your images will look something like this;

To add a lot of extra contrast underwater and color the whale a little bit more blue duplicatie the under water layer, drag it on top of the layer stack and change the blend mode to ‘overlay’ I masked out to top of the whale because it will of course be out of the water.

Next for some special effects add another unsplash file you can use for free. Photo by Sarah Lee on Unsplash. Change the blend mode to soft light and press CMD or CTRL + T go into free transform for the placed layer so you can move and resize until you are happy with the result.

There are different ways to create the waterline. First create a new blank layer on top of the layer stack. The easy way is to handpaint a white line with a brush set to 50% softness, but I used the pen tool to create a nice round curved path then clicking on ‘stroke path with brush’. In the PSD file that is in the Kit you can find the path I used so you can easily turn the path into a waterline or create a selection of the underwater part of your image.
After you are done creating the white part of the waterline set the opacity around 70%.

Copy the waterline layer by making sure the waterline layer is selected then from the menu select ‘Layer’ and ‘Duplicate layer’. Name the layer ‘waterline shadow’. By using Free Transform (CMD or CTRL + T) drag the copy lower then the original line. Next from the menu click on ‘Edit’ then ‘Fill’. Set the color to Black and make sure ‘Preserve Transparancy’ is ticked. This will turn the copied waterline black. To turn it into a real shadow select ‘Filter” from the menu and select ‘Blur’ and ‘Gaussian Blur’. Choose radius of 50 to make the shadow nice and soft.

Next it is time to place the girl in the boat layer on top of the layer stack and place and scale it (again using CMD or CTRL + T) to fit your image.

Because the color of the water surface is a little bit too warm let’s cool it down a bit using ‘Camera Raw Filter’ by selecting it from the ‘Filter’ menu. I also changed the highlights and shadows, added a bit of texture and lowered the dehaze function to soften the image.


Now mask away the water around the boat and around the whale. It doesn’t matter if this mask is very clean and perfect yet, because after we apply the water surface in the next step we can adjust and adjust both masks to create the effect we are after.

After masking it should look something like this;

Next part is adding the water surface below the girl in the boat layer. To easily do this you select the waterline layer (which at this moment I realised I forgot to change the layer order of). So first drag the waterline shadow layer below the waterline layer. Then select the waterline layer then add the watersurface file by dragging it into your project of clicking on ‘File’ in the menu and click on ‘Place embedded…’

Go to free transform on the water surface layer and by pressing and holding Shift drag the lower part of the image up to compress the file to change the perspective. Without holding short you will scale without changing the aspect ratio which is something we don not want now.

As you have probably noticed, this render is also too warm to fit nicely into the work so after placing the layer, select ‘Filter’ from the menu and choose ‘Camera Raw Filter’. Change the ‘Temperature’ to -24 to cool down the layer.

A huge advantage of working with smart layers, recognisable by the smart object icon (circled in red in the screenshot) is that you are able to go back to the filter and change things as often as you want by double clicking on the filter name (marked with the red arrow) under the smart object in the layer stack, so if you are not happy just go back and change things around.

Smart Object Icon

To create the shape of waves click on ‘Edit’ from the menu and select ‘Transform’ and choose ‘Warp’. Now you can distort or warp the layer to create the look of waves.

After applying the effect the color will change back to the cooled down version. Next step is adding a layer mask and with a black soft brush mask the water surface away in the lower part until you see the waterline appear.

Next we need to mask the top of the whale from the water surface layer. Of course you can choose to do this by hand, but that would take some time an is very fiddly, so let’s try something quick and easy. Locate the layer with the whale in your layer stack and by pressing and holding CMD or CTRL click once on the small icon of the whale layer. You will see the marching ants around the edge of the whale appear to visualise the selection that you just created.

Now go back to the layer mask from the water surface layer. Make sure you selected the layer. You can check if the layer is selected because Photoshop will show [ ] around the mask. With a soft black brush set to 20% opacity draw over the whale to make it appear slightly through the water surface. Now change to a hard brush set at 100% opacity and mask the top of the whale’s head on the same height as the where the boat comes out of the water.

Now it is time for the finishing touches.
Create a blank new layer on top of the layer stack, select a water splash brush (for instance the one you can download on this website for free. And with a white color paint on parts where the whale’s head gets out of the water and where the boat comes out of the water. You can also paint on parts of the waterline you made earlier.

Because parts of the work are created by rendering 3d models they have no noise on them so they stick out a bit. A solution to remedy this is to create a noise layer as the final top layer.
From the menu click on ‘Layer’ then select ‘New’ and then select ‘Layer’. In the dialogbox that appears choose the mode ‘Overlay’ and tick the checkbox ‘Fill with Overlay-neutral neutral color’.

With the new layer selected click on ‘Filter’ in the menu, choose ‘Noise’ and select ‘Add noise’.

Select an amount of around 10%, set the distribution to ‘Uniform’ and Tick the checkbox ‘Monochromatic’.

After applying the filter you will have a very noisy image, but don’t worry we will fix that in a minute.

Again go to ‘Free Transform’ by clicking CMD or CTRL + T or selecting it from the ‘Edit’ menu. We want to enlarge this layer so we need room to see what we are doing. Click on CMD or CTRL and – (minus sign) to zoom out of your image. Do this again so you have a large canvas with a smaller version of your image. Now drag the ‘Free Transform’ handles outward to enlarge the layer containing noise and make it something like 40% – 50% bigger.

After applying the transform select the whole image by pressing CMD or CTRL + A or from the menu choose ‘Select’ then click on ‘All’. Now copy the selection by pressing CMD or CTRL + J. Now rename the top layer to Noise and delete the enlarged layer we didn’t rename below it. This will save you some computer memory by discarding a large noisy layer.
Now set the opacity of the noise layer to around 30% depending to your preferences. Check at 100% when you lower the noise layer by pressing CMD or CTRL and + (plus sign) until the view is at 100%. The zoom percentage is shown in the lower left part of the Photoshop window.

The last step I made in this tutorial is adding some extra color and contrast by adding a ‘Color lookup’ adjustment layer by clicking on ‘Layer’ then click on ‘New Adjustment Layer’ and select ‘Color Lookup’.
Click on ‘Load 3D LUT’ and select ‘Crisp_warm’ and lower the opacity of the adjustment layer to around 30%.

The Making Friends Photoshop Kit with all the files of this tutorial

Don’t forget to save your work and I hope you had fun creating your version of ‘Making Friends’ using the kit and hopefully you learned something.

My own version was a digital painting of this artwork. You can use the free tutorials on this website to learn how to create a digital painting from an artwork you just created.

If you would like me to make more of this kind of tutorials/kits please let me know.

Feel free to leave me a comment