I'm trying to add realism to this image of ships at sea.

How do I make boat wakes that look like they are on the waters surface and generated by the ship?

I've tried clipping parts of bow waves from other images and inserting them here, I've also tried drawing the wave and wake shapes in illustrator and blending the waves with warp and glow.

None of my efforts have achieved the realism I'm after.

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2 Answers 2


You can add the missing waves by inserting displacement maps and painting some foam onto the generatd waves.

Here is a displacement map. It's made a little transparent only to show its placement. It's painted (for the corvette only) by free hand using a soft white brush.

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The map generates wrinkles to the sea. They must have some foam. It's again painted. Also painted some foam to the bow because it must be equal on the port side and starboard.

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BTW. The aircraft carrier is miniscule. The perspectives of the sea and the ships are not well matched.

ADDENDUM: I couldn't find any plausible arrangement for the ships except by squeezing the carrier to the horizon. Sorry.

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  • 3
    +1 for perspective not well matched. Scale doesn't seem right either.
    – curious
    Aug 1, 2017 at 2:03
  • Thanks for your help, the displacement map looks great and I'll try that today. I know the perspective is not well matched. Images were taken from online. The carrier view angle is too high for it to be farther back. I think I'll have to find other boats because rotate and skew do not fix it.
    – Webster
    Aug 1, 2017 at 15:08

Since all the ships have a wake.... you'll have to extend the wakes. Wakes are long trailing disruptions in the water, not merely "halos" around the ships. The lack of any disruption behind the ships makes things look unnatural.

Or.. use images of ships which aren't generating a wake. But they will then appear static and "parked" in the water.

  • Yes agreed I need to make long trailing wakes. Where the ship cuts the water and near the front of each ship I think I need to make very similar frothy wakes. Because they need to appear the same I'll need to make them anew, or take one of the wakes and use it on all of them.
    – Webster
    Jul 31, 2017 at 23:47

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