Blender: An easy underwater / above water 3D cut-away approach

Blender: An easy underwater / above water 3D cut-away approach

This is basically a “how I did it” post about Blender. In it I only cover the sea creation aspect, not the terrain aspect which can be found in hundreds of places online. You see, my goal was to try to create one of those shots where part of the picture is above the water and part is below. I figured that, just like terrains, there would be hundreds of posts and videos explaining how to do this. However I could not find any. Maybe I just suck at Google.

Given that I was only trying to do a proof-of-concept for myself, this is the result, proving that it can be done.

Believe it or not, this was achieved with simply three planes in Blender.

As you may guess it owes a lot to displacement and material nodes.

For the terrain I used the method described by the Wayward Art Company in the video at: Usually I sculpt my landscapes but I decided to try a procedural approach and this video particularly appealed to me for it’s viewability (is that a word?) and clarity. Hence I am now following them on YouTube and Twitter (@Wayward_Art_Co).

This said, I did modify the approach slightly. The video assumes that the sea is a surface and what lays beneath is hidden. Obviously my goal was different. So where the video creates the sea surface, I change the approach to make a sandy sea bed. More of less the same technique but using a sand texture and no glossiness. 

However, let’s get to the bit I want to describe, which is the sea. It is so easy and is just a variation on the terrain technique above.

  1. create a plane mesh the same size as the terrain.
  2. Subdivide: 100 cuts
  3. Add a subsurface modifier.
  4. Create a new material for the sea plane. 

And voila!

Light shining through the plane gives that delicious murky underwater feel.

So, as you see, incredibly easy.

Hope someone finds this useful. Again a big thanks to Wayward Art Company whose techniques I used.




  1. Interesting. I’ve done water surface using a similar technique before, but if I wanted an underwater shot like this I’d have tried using a cube with volume. Good to know it can be done simply with a plane, thanks! :)


    1. The funny thing is that one of my earlier attempts was precisely that, a cube with volume, but I did not like the results.


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