Splashes: Refraction

In my last tutorial not all of you understand how to make splashes, that’s why I decided to tell more about it. First of all let’s look at this drop that I make in 3d editor


We can see here reflection of softbox in the bottom, shadow, caustic and refraction. I don’t want to talk about shadow and caustics it this tutorial, let’s focus on refractions, it is very interesting topic I think.




Refraction depends on the shape


Note that the shape of the drop is very simple that’s why letters do not changed, but only slightly increased. Look at rounded edges of drop, and see how the shape of line is refracted at the point where shape of drop changing. Line is rising up.


If we rotate the drop, we can see how much letters are changed. The shape of drop not so flat, and now the shape are more complex, and that is more refracted.

Shape of the drop

Shape of the drop

Look and analyze at the more complex shape:


The thickness of the object

Another important point, refractive index strongly depend on the thickness of the object. Let's compare the two pictures:



Here, the same material settings, but left drop thinner than the right, so the letters under the left almost unchanged.



A more complex shape can refract the environment color, even if it is not in frame



Look at the picture, there is no any black lines under it, but we can see them in refraction. That is because the shape “captures” color from environment. No need to calculate where does this color, from left, from right, or from top, just keep in mind that the environment is also refracted.

Now let's draw!

We begin as always with a rough sketch, choose a shape that you like, I just wanted to show a few letters in refraction.


Add color and detail the little, add color to the environment bends


Work with smudge tool. Google some photos with water splashes, always look at them and compare with your work.


Copy section of text which is under the splashes and increase it a little bit.  Splash thin and flat under it will not be strong distortion, the strong distortion only on the rounded edges of the splash.


Experiment, analyze, try to paint one section a few times.

Add some details:


I don’t like the shape at the bottom, so delete it and draw again:


 Add a little bit of light, caustics and shadow:


Color correction: 


Of course, the picture is not ideal, perhaps there is not enough detail or realism, but I'm going to assume it finished.


Thank for watching, and don’t forget to send me your experiments



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