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Learn How to Create a Fake Caustics Effect Using Photoshop

Save Precious Time by Simulating a Caustics Pattern in Photoshop

To be honest, it’s a very easy process once you get the hang of it. With just a bit of practice, you can implement this method in minutes. And you’ll save a lot of time compared to real caustic rendering while still attaining tremendous results. So let’s get started.


Caustics are the wavy light patterns that are formed from either reflection or refraction. Think ‘inside of a pool on a sunny day’, and you’ll know what I mean. Although V-Ray offers realistic Caustics computation, it’s very heavy. This means in some cases it takes as much time as the entire render itself. So it’s better to simulate it wherever possible. To achieve this effect we’ll be using a Caustics texture, warp it, then blend it and lastly combine it with a proper masking technique.


The process goes like this:
  1. Import the Caustics texture into Photoshop. Scale it to the correct size.
  2. Apply Transform > Warp and stretch it match the surface it’ll fall on.
  3. Blend it using the ‘Lighten’ mode and match the color using adjustment layers like ‘Hue & Saturation’.
  4. Create a Mask layer and hide the unnecessary regions within the texture.
We’ve been doing some heavy Photoshop lately, and in many cases it’s a huge time saver. If you know which buttons to press, you’ll get it right each time. Photoshop is an essential part in our line of work. Without some expert post processing, your images will never catch a potential client’s eye.

PRO Photoshop Training

Need to learn how to make your images stand out?  Check out our PRO Photoshop TrainingWe still have a lot of FREE seats left, and the early bird registration is about to end. We are about to add some night versions this week, and the price for this workshop is only going up since we’ve been adding tons of training material and related videos.
I’m probably going to cover this scene for a full exterior training, cause I’ve been getting more and more requests from users to show them how to do the proper realistic lighting and textures with some aerial “Bird’s Eye” views. 
If you’re also interested in learning “How I did the lighting for this Day scene” – send me a request and I’ll put you on the Exterior Training Students’ List. And if we get enough students to enroll, I’ll also do an Exterior Lighting and Rendering Masterclass.
Thanks for watching – hope that helps!
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Talk soon,
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