Create a Realistic Water Simulation

Whether you like it shaken or stirred, Cycles and the Fluid Simulator tastes delicious.

37 minutes
Blender Cycles Build r41599
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 4.8/5 (336 votes cast)

In this tutorial you will discover:

  • Realistic fluid settings
  • Water and glass materials for Cycles
  • How to model ice cubes and puddles

Up until now blender’s fluid simulator has kind of been a waste of time. Sure the fluid looked okay in the viewport, but when it came to rendering the internal renderer did a horrible job. The complex properties of water meant that it simply couldn’t create realistic results. However, thanks to the new physically accurate rending engine Cycles, we can have fluid that actually looks half decent.

Enter into a new era of realistic water and glass.

Finished Result

Realistic Water Simulation in Blender

Pour yourself a glass of Cycles

The image is based off this concept from iStockPhoto.

At a Glance

Screenshots from the video:

Further Inspiration

Not sure where to take this tutorial? Check out the links below for more fluid inspiration:

Create something cool with this tutorial? Post it below! I’m keen to see your results :)

Create a Realistic Water Simulation, 4.8 out of 5 based on 336 ratings

About Andrew Price

User of Blender for 9+ years. I've written tutorials for 3d World Magazine and spoken at three Blender conferences. My goal is to help artists get employed in the industry by making training accessible and easy to understand. I'm an Aussie and I live in South Korea ;)
  • Jesse

    Hey guys, I’m having a huge problem with my lighting in cycles. I’m working on a snow globe and cannot get the reflection of the light source (a plane) to stop reflecting in the glass. I’ve hidden the light using the Options under “Ray visibility” and also Jonathan Williams tutorial on invisible lights ( but with no success. Maybe I’m doing something wrong, this is my first on my own blender project. Any ideas guys???

    Merry Christmas

  • Justin

    Thank You!!!!!!!!
    Great tutorial. I finished mine and I was wondering what resolution makes the water most realistic and what to put the render at in the Integrator panel for the Cycles Renderer. Thanks!!

  • mamou

    Can you put up the background you used for this tutorial please?

  • Eric Kirk

    Hello, you have some fantastic tutorials. I am stuggling, being new to Blender on the speed but now I see that you include the keystrokes which is helpful. Now, I have watched this one through a few times as I had to restart a couple times but even with the exact settings you have, my water ends up looking more like a dark mass shooting out of the ball. I’ve done it a few times and get the same result. Any obvious thoughts on what I’m dong wrong? Also with the -1 setting, my “Water” shoots left rather than right like yours and just goes straight out, doesn’t even begin to curve. Appreciate your thoughts.
    Kirk Productions

  • Kai Cent

    Hi Andrew
    i think the solution to the pattern that apears on the water simulation is there because you scaled the domain. If you keep the domain on 1.1.1 the pattern will disapear.

    Greetings Kai-Cent

  • wewecat


  • Victor Ascencao

    Great tutorial Andrew as all the other tutorials of yours., I´m a regular Modo user so I render the scene in Cyles and then in modo.

  • Otso

    You should make tutorial about how to make as good tutorials as yours :D

    • Socapex

      I second this :)

  • http://NONAME RAHMAT

    i think blender crush it is because about performa our pc,,,,,,,,

  • Max

    ohh come on when did you do the last turorial 8 months ago???
    Do more tutorials please.

  • Patrick

    Hi Andrew,

    Just one short question. Why do you use a whole separate object for the “bubble” particles, instead of just a particle system in the ice cube with “emit from” set to “volume”?


  • Fábio

    great tutorial andrew.

    Instead a cup, i did a jar to serve water for friends


  • Brandon

    Hey Andrew,

    Nice tutorial :) lovin the work that you do.
    Um just a quick question, what is the add-on that your using to display your mouse in the bottom right hand corner?

    Muchly appreciated


    • Bryce


      * Go to File > User Preferences
      * In the search box type screencast
      * Check the box at the far right of the: 3D Views: Screencast Keys
      * Close Blender User Preferences window

      * With your mouse in the 3D window select the letter n
      * Scroll down to Screencast Keys and select start display

  • Benni-chan

    Here is my go at this scene.
    For some reason, the bubbles in the icecubes didn’t appear in the final render. Have to check, why…

  • fotocron

    Andrew, great work, Thanks.,,

  • Attila

    Hi Andrew!

    Great tutorial! I have one question: At 19:38 when you are using the Smoothing Brush – before this you switch to edit mode and you see the fluid wired but in my case I see only the Domain Box selected (yellow). Why is that? I think that is the problem that something wrong is selected/checked and the brush is not working.

    • xDevilzDummyx

      You need to (apply) the fluid modifier after you got the shape you wanted, it means go to the modifier section and click apply ~ for the fluid object.(after you baked it of course)

  • Anthony

    by default its 24 frames per second, you can change it to 25 but most people don’t do that or know they have the option. it doesn’t matter too much but in the future you may want to address that, i know you said it in one other tutorial

  • Socapex

    Great tutorial! Love the speed at which you advanced, most video tutorials are always too slow.

    Here’s my little variation:

    I decided it looked a bit like a Vodka add, so the guy pooring the glass was a little bit tipsy. Would’ve been better with a shot glass though. I am happy with the results even though it is very dark and I should have changed the background to be lighter.

    • Samuel

      Ha ha! this is good! :D

      • Socapex

        Thx dude :)

  • anonimek108

    Hi. I have a question.
    How do two colors of liquid in blender with 1 Domain?

  • Tobias

    Great and easy Toutorial as allways, Andrew!
    Sorry if its a little bit offtopic but I have a question about Cycles:
    Is it possible to give Hair a coulor in the Cycles render Engine without using a coloured objekt? (like the strand feature in the normal blender render)

    Thanks a lot for your help in advance and sorry for my bad english

  • Jaidyn

    Andrew, great work, your a blessing to all blender users.
    I have encountered a problem though, whenever I attempt to render anything above frame 7 the fluid disappears from the scene and it takes at least 1/2 an hour to render one sample when rendering frame 7 or below takes about 30 seconds for 10 passes.
    i have tried re baking the simulation but it didn’t help.
    any input would be greatly appreciated.

  • iamklaust

    Awesome tutorial!

    Does anyone know how to avoid, having to use the Sculpt Mode in order to make the faces of the water smooth?

    Is that a bug in blender or just a normal behavior?

  • fotocron


  • squibblejack

    thanks mr. Andrew, that was fun and i learned alot from it. Cheerz’s

  • Nick Dreiling
  • Nick Dreiling

    Great tutorial! i just started with the glasses.

  • Aaron Newton

    No probs.

    I wasn’t very adventurous with mine, but here it is

    Two things I noticed:

    1) to make the image smoother, I had to turn the “Samples” up under the Render > Integrator (although I think this may have been explained in another tutorial)

    2) to remove some of the gradient banding, I found this tutorial

  • Martin
    • Aaron Newton

      Nice – depth of field and chromatic aberration is a nice touch.

      Feedback – I think you need to find a way to add more contrast to your image – you can probably achieve this by adjusting the ambient lighting and adding some sort of main/spot light to make it look more dramatic. E.g.

      Lighting through the back like the tutorial would give the most dramatic effect, but maybe that’s not what you’re going for.

      Also, I would like to see some slight misalignment on the glasses as they are aligned too perfectly, and possibly some image in the background so that there is something in the horizon.

      • Martin

        Thanks for hint’s, well I was going for a look like the render well but your feedback maybe be better then what I was thinking. When I do some modification than I put a link to new version. :D Thanks

  • Aaron Newton

    Andrew – cheers for another great tutorial.

    One thing I picked up on. You said that you weren’t sure where the artifacts were coming from in the fluid. I’m about 90% sure they’re an artifact of the marching cubes algorithm or some variant (check out explanation of why this might be used along with a good snap shot that looks like what we’re seeing here – There seems to be a discussion about this here: – and the suggested solution is more resolution and/or more smoothing.

  • Jason

    Many thanks for the great tutorials. Does anyone know if Cycles can render an alpha channel?

  • Anna

    Some objects disappeared when rendering the scene, but they are visible in vewpoint. I’m sure it’s not because camera clipping, and I do select all the layers in render setting, why this happened?

  • blenderanim

    Hello, if you want to keep the same lighting algorithm, but let’s say you want a .jpg or .png image in the background, you can hide that huge white plane by going to (Select Emission Object)>Object Panel>Ray Visibility> and uncheck Camera. This should hide the nasty white plane but keep the lighting. Also, giving credit where it’s due, I discovered this at a CG Cookie tip.

  • azzurro

    iBlender, was trying to do an animation, so I have to apply the fluids and then recalculate every frame? A bit fiddly is in it ?

  • Marde

    Hey Andrew,

    Thanks for this tutorial! I made a rendering with a fire image in the background. It looks awesome!

    • iBlender

      EVIL WATER OF FIRE!!!!!!!!

      Sorry just had to do that

  • Vaporizer

    Hi Andrew,
    I was wondering where to get the gradient background for the vertical plane.
    Great tut by the way!! :)

  • azzurro

    I was doing some research, for how to get rid of the nasty artifacts in fluids.
    I not succeeded! But found that, it`s seems to be they starting to appear when subdivision level increasing. Which is very odd. I manage to get rid of them with the smooth modifier, but i lost a lot of details. Maybe some developers have time to look in to it. Or maybe other people know how to go around it?…n/photostream/
    I made pictures of my progress.

    • iBlender

      Try selecting everything in edit mode and hitting control+N to recalculate the normals

  • Nathanle

    for some reason i dont have a volume uh.. what would you call that… a tab? of options under materials… i think those are the options i need for the texture im trying to get for my next picture. any idea why i dont have them?

  • GhostlyLemon

    hi, i have a cycles technical related question. u know how in the video it he changes from cpu to gpu under render>device, my cycles doesn’t have a list like that under render. can someone help out please cuz my renders are coming up really slow

    • iBlender

      Make sure your build includes “CUDA”

      • GhostlyLemon

        i have one that includes CUDA but it still wont show up

        • Raphael

          In the render settings, if there is a “feature set” option (probably at the top of the properties window), change the feature set from “supported” to “experimental”, and then an option to change from CPU to GPU should appear.

    • abid

      hi ,
      well the answer is quite easy , fisrt the drop down menu is shown only if u got a an OPENCL or CUDA enabled graphics card , if it’s not the case then cycles uses your CPU by default .
      if you have got a NVIDIA or ATI graphics card and still dont have the drop down menu then you might need to update your drivers.
      hope it helped
      best regards.

  • Peter

    For some reason the device button in the render tool bar for me is missing, was it moved or something? i cant render out my picture properly without it. :(

  • Kees

    Wow fantastic tutorial.
    Just one question:
    How do you select the loop of vertices at once (5:14)

    • GhostlyLemon

      alt-right click

  • Andrew H. (not Price)

    Cool! BTW, how do you record the HD video? I’m a game developer, so I’ll need to know how to record HD gameplay vids and such.

  • Pat

    Dear Wizard of Oz :):)

    Thanks very much for the clarity of your Cycles tuts (some of the ones out there are horrendous).

    How would you go about doing your “realistic grass” tutorial ( using cycles …. or would you just use a bump map or something?

  • gxl

    Thanks Andrew for the great tutorial.
    When I Render everything, I only get a black screen.
    What can be the reason?

    Thanks in advance.

    • iBlender

      I haven’t yet watched the tut, but check that you have lamps in the scene or mesh emmitors

    • Matt

      You might have a slow comp. but just let it sit for awhile.

  • Laurie

    This tute and this scene was the first thing I’ve ever done in Blender and it turned out fantastic! Thank you Andrew for being such a good instructor :).

    • Johannes

      can somebody help me ???
      When I render the picture i’ve got a blackscreen !!!

      • Andrew

        1. Make sure you have set up the Materials properly. to do this:
        a) Remove all settings by clicking th new material button(plus sign by the
        name ‘Material.00X”)
        b) click on emission where it says diffuse BDSF
        c) make sure all other objects have materials… not going into
        specifications as it is decently simple with what’s above just replace
        “Emission” with diffuse.
        2. make sure you have a camera.
        a) look up into the top right corner where you’ll find a bunch of drop
        down menus one of these should be labeled “Camera”
        b) if you’ve somehow lost a camera press Shift + a then click camera
        i)alternatively press space and type in “Add CAmera”
        c) after all this make sure it is facing your glass:
        i) ‘easiest’ in material view as opposed to ‘rendered’
        ii) press Numpad 0 or go to view>camera in the bottom left corner of
        your 3d view port
        iii) select it and rotate it around until you can see the glass in site.
        iv) and now make sure that all objects in your scene are completely
        necessary by going into your scene and deleting all objects that
        may block the Camera or cast unnecessary shadows on your
        objects and block lights
        4. and last but not least make sure your render settings are correct
        a) bedtime! sorry not gona go into details cause this seems least likely to
        be the problem

        • Andrew

          if none of these help give me a shout at and specify further what’s going on!

          heading off for a good night’s rest
          -Andrew (not Price. Ranger.)

  • Doug

    Hey Andrew, i was just wondering when you are releasing the Nature Academy? i missed it the first time and i dont want to miss it again

    thanks – Doug

  • Doug

    Hey Andrew, i was just wondering when you are releasing the Nature Academy? i missed it the first time and i dont want to miss it again

    thanks – Dough

  • jan

    Muy bueno. Thank you.

  • jerry

    hi Andrew

    i am from sri lanka. i used blender about 1.5years.

    How to download Blender Cycles. can u help me sri.

    • Andrew

      Go to! It has new builds of blender often DOWN TO THE DAY! find one for your specific operating system and memory capapbilities (x86, x64, PowerPC, Intel, etc.) and Open Blender.exe(app for mac) and there you go! once in cycles of course you must go to File>UserPreferences>Addons and enable it form there. :D

      Hope this helped!

      • V.B. Baskaran

        I just started using Cycles with Blender 2.61. When I render the scene (a plain glass) I get a lot of grains. With Blender render It looks more realistic. Why I am getting the grains whe I render with Cylces.

        • Andrew

          If you go to the render properties in the far right of your screen and scroll down to integrator. Inside of integrator you’ll find settings that have to do with how many times it runs the light sim and how many times the light bounces off certain objects.. if you’re saying it looks grainy in the preview in the display port then you probably need to pull the Samples for preview to zero so it will go indefinitely. if you’re saying final render;
          go to your integrator presets at the top of the integrator preferences pane and click on “Full global illumination”. this will make sure the light is bouncing as many times ass possible so it’ll hit more spots and be overall leaving less spots (or grains). if it still looks grainy then you probably need to pull the samples up for render to around 300ish (depending on your OpenCL GPU or CPU capabilities).

          • Andrew

            if none of these help give me a shout at and specify further what’s going on!

            Blending at 5:00 in the morning cause he can…
            -Andrew (not Price. Ranger.) :)

  • Jerry
    • Ron

      Greg job Jerry

    • Andrew

      Very nice job Jerry thought i Have a small tip for your mountain to the right. if you adda a cloud like textrue (I think it may be Veroni or something in Cycles, Have to jog my memory [of course you could just download a rock texture xD]) Then a tad bit of gloss and high specular it would give it a much more humid rock sticking out from nowhere texture. Also Whatever happened to some good old moss, just use Price’s fashion of making doughnut Icing from ‘Introduction to cycles’ and a green goopy colour.

      Once again Just some minor suggestions, not saying any imperatives or anything just a little “creative” critism lol.

  • Siggi

    Hi Andrew,

    There all nice tut’s.
    how create the background-pic with the lights?????

    greeting from germany

    • Matt

      It’s super easy,

      Open (It’s free, great and small, I recommend using it but you can make do with anything as long as you know what you are doing) make the background black and add a new layer. On the new layer open the tool gradient, on the top toolbar click the radial icon. On the coulor pane make the primary coulor a very light (very very light, just make sure you can see it) blue. Set the alpha (transparency) of the secondary coulor all the way down. The secondary coulor can be anything because you won’t be able to see it. Click the middle of the canvas and hold dragging outwards.

      Hole this helps

      • Matt

        Sorry, it’s hope, not hole.

      • Andrew

        Lol much simpler yet somehow crappier work around was too just make a plane with a gradient fill in the shape of a circle… then put a translucent plane over top of it for colour xD