Anime Water Wave Sparkle Glitter Tutorial

anime sunset water tutorial

This is a short tutorial on animating anime style water wave and sparkle glitter using AfterEffects. This tutorial will be using sunset seaside theme but the animation method can be apply in other settings such as a bright sunny day near a lake or river.

Painting The Background

Paint the background plate normally but leave the sea water without any details since we will be animating the waves and glitter later.

anime sunset seaside tutorial
Pay attention on the gradient of the sea color. Look at how the area near to the sun is in brighter colour while the corners are in darker shade.

More Tutorial! You can read my other tutorial on anime cloud painting

Water Wave Effect

Water wave effect can be achieve using procedural cloud texture.

anime water wave
In AfterEffects, apply "Fractal Noise" filter on a black solid and modify the following settings:

  • Fractal / Noise Type - Leave this as default but you can experiment with other type.
  • Transform - Disable "Uniform Scaling" and and stretch the noise horizontally.
  • Offset Turbulence - Offset the texture. Animating the offset value give the impression of moving water.
  • Evolution - You must animate this value for the noise animation, else it will stay static.

Remember to use "Corner Pin" filter to stretch the texture to match the horizon.

Water Sparkle Glitter effect

Glitter effect can be achieve using a particle system emit only on a flat axis.

  1. Set particle emitter to emit in two axis, the water level.
  2. Disable physic. Bo velocity and gravity are needed. (maybe very minimal)

anime sparkle glitter
In AfterEffects,aApply "CC Particle World" filter on a black solid and modify the following settings:

  • Birth Rate - How many particles.
  • Longevity - How long particles stay.
  • Position XYZ - Position of Emitter.
  • Radius XYZ - Emitter zone, set it so it appear flat. In this case, Y radius is set to 0.
  • Velocity - No veloctity or a very small value so the particle move in a direction slowly.
  • Gravity - No gravity or a very small value so the particle move in a direction slowly.
  • Particle Type - "Star" work the best, you can use "cube" too.
  • Birth / Death Size - Use a small value.


Compositing the effect on our anime background art is straight forward.

anime sunset seaside tutorial
We will be using multiple particle system for glitter effect and multiple fractal noise for wave effect. Generally, we will divide them into two groups, glowing and non glowing.

anime sunset seaside tutorial
  • Use "Classic Color Dodge / Color Dodge" blend mode for the glowing glitter and wave.(area below the sun). This blend mode will give more colors compare to "Add" or "Linear Dodge".
  • Use "Overlay" blend mode for the non glowing glitter and wave.
  • Mask the glowing wave and glitter layer so it only appear below the sun. (Look at picture for reference)
For final touch, apply "Glow" filters and "Camera Lens Blur" filters for bokeh effect.

Using stock footage

Aside of doing the effect manually, we can use stock footage to achieve the same effect easily. This method will actually look better a lot of time.

stock footage compositing
So, take your camera with tripod and go to a nearby lake or sea to record some video. Then import the footage and Color Dodge blend them in AfterEffects.

Using Blender3D

If you are a Blender3D user, you can achieve similar result too using "Particle System" and "Wave" modifier".
  1. Add a plane and subdivide it until there are enough polygon for wave displacement
  2. Add "Wave" modifier"
  3. Add "Particle System" modifier"

blender3d seaside
  • Start Position Object - Add an "Empty" to the scene and use it as the starting position of the wave.
  • Texture - Add a new texture for the wave displacement. In my case, I use "cloud".
Remember to play with other settings such as "Speed", "Width", "Height" and "Narrowness".

blender3d seaside
  • Number - Number of particles.
  • Physic - Disable Physic.
  • Render - Choose "Object", model a star mesh and set it as particle shape.


The final result of anime water effect can be view in the following youtube video.

This method can be use in any other software with particle system, I believe you can even use it for game development.


DeviantArt Anime Sunset
Pixiv Anime Sunset
Youtube Anime Sunset
Vimeo Anime Sunset


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