How Do I Create a Wax Melting Effect in Photoshop?

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A melting wax effect can be applied to anything in Photoshop CC, including text, shapes and objects from a photo. First, create a puddle of wax and then place the object over the puddle. Use the Transform options to shrink the bottom of the object where it meets the puddle, and then warp and liquify the object to make it looks like it's melting.

A melting Valentine made in Photoshop.
(Photoshop screenshot courtesy of Adobe.)
Step 1

Open a new Photoshop document. Select the "Ellipse Tool" from the Toolbox and draw a thin ellipse horizontally across the canvas. This ellipse will form the basis of a puddle of wax, so set the fill color in the Properties panel to match the color of whatever you are melting. Set the border color to "No Color."

Draw an ellipse across the canvas.
Photoshop screenshot courtesy of Adobe.
Step 2

Select "Layer Style" from the Layer menu and select "Bevel & Emboss." To begin, select the "Contour" option. Use a depth of 100 percent, a Size of about 60 px and a Soften level of 4 px. Set the Highlight Mode and Shadow Mode Opacity levels at 75 percent. Keep these settings as they are, or adjust them as needed for the color and lighting you want for the wax.

Apply a Bevel & Emboss Layer Style to the ellipse.
Photoshop screenshot courtesy of Adobe.
Step 3

Duplicate the Ellipse 1 Layer by selecting "Duplicate Layer" from the Layer menu. Select "Free Transform" from the Edit menu, reduce the Height and Width in the Options bar to 80 percent and then press "Enter." Drag the smaller ellipse so that its top edge is aligned with the top edge of the larger ellipse.

Copy the small ellipse, reduce this copy by 80 percent and drag it up so that it's aligned with the other two ellipses.

Copy the ellipse twice and reduce the copies' sizes.
Photoshop screenshot courtesy of Adobe.
Step 4

Click the "Layer" menu and select "Flatten Image." Select the "Smudge Tool" from the Toolbox and drag it across the bottom of each ellipse to create a sloppy, melted wax effect.

Smudge the lines between the ellipses.
Photoshop screenshot courtesy of Adobe.
Step 5

Open the "Liquify" filter from the Filter menu. Drag the default Forward Warp Tool around the lines that you smudged. Using short strokes, this not only cleans up the blurring effect caused by the Smudge Tool, it gives the smudged lines a plastic, or waxy, appearance.

Drag the Forward Warp Tool along the smudged lines.
Photoshop screenshot courtesy of Adobe.
Step 6

Add any original artwork, an object cut from a photo, text or a custom shape as a new layer above the puddle of wax. To insert a heart, click the "Custom Shape Tool" in the Toolbox and then select the heart from the Shape menu in the Options bar.

Apply the same Bevel & Emboss settings to the custom shape or text as you used to create the puddle. This gives a three dimensional look to otherwise flat objects, something that shouldn't be necessary for an object you pulled from a photo.

Photoshop's custom shape gallery.
Photoshop screenshot courtesy of Adobe.
Step 7

Select "Rasterize" from the Layer menu and select "Shape." This allows you to modify and erase the shape or text.

Note that the Bevel & Emboss Layer Style you applied to the shape isn't rasterized yet. When erasing an object without a rasterized Layer Style, the Bevel and Emboss is reapplied to the object after you erase a part of the object.

Rasterize a shape or text layer before transforming it.
Photoshop screenshot courtesy of Adobe.
Step 8

Shrink the bottom third of the object to give it a melted appearance. Select the "Rectangular Marquee Tool" from the Toolbox and drag it across the bottom third of the object. Select "Free Transform" from the Edit menu and then drag the handle at the bottom of the Marquee upward to shrink this portion of the object.

Shrink the bottom third of the object.
Photoshop screenshot courtesy of Adobe.
Step 9

Select the "Elliptical Marquee Tool" from the Toolbox and drag it across the bottom of the object. The bottom of the Marquee needs to form the line where the object melts into the puddle. You may need to try this a few times to get it right. Once the marquee line is in the right place, select "Inverse" from the Select menu and then use the Eraser Tool in the Toolbox to erase the bottom of the object.

This is when rasterizing the Layer Style becomes a judgment call. The aim here is to make the object appear like it's melting into the puddle. With some objects, it looks better if you erase without rasterizing the Layer Style; with other objects, you may need to rasterize it and then do the erasing. In the example of this heart, the bottom tip of the heart was erased first, the Layer Style was then rasterized and the remaining portion of the heart was erased.

Erase below the inverted elliptical marquee.
Photoshop screenshot courtesy of Adobe.
Step 10

Apply the Liquify Filter to the object to melt it as needed, dragging the sides of the object downward. Another good way to make objects look melted is to use Warp, available from the Transform options under the Edit menu.

Text is warped to make it appear melted on the heart.
Photoshop screenshot courtesy of Adobe.

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