Get Reflective With Photoshop

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1/1/2013 8:27:35 AM

We reveal how to use the Transform tools and filters to recreate reflections in water

Get reflective with Photoshop

Get reflective with Photoshop

What you’ll need

Photoshop Elements 9 or above

What you’ll learn

How to copy, flip and distort a landscape to mimic the presence of a reflective water surface

It only takes

15 minutes

As painters like Constable and Turner demonstrated in many of their masterpieces, water can enhance a landscape. On a calm day the ripple-free surface of a lake creates a natural mirror that adds a pleasing sense of symmetry to a scene. However, sometimes the weather conditions aren’t ideal and the water’s reflective properties are diminished by elements like wind. By using Photoshop Elements’ clever tools and filters you can add photo-realistic computer-generated water to any landscape reflective properties. Here, we’ll demonstrate how to extend the canvas of a landscape-oriented shot and then copy and flip the scene to creat a mirror image. You can then use layers to transform the copied pixels’ shape and position to create a reflection. Next, you’ll take control of the elements by rippling the reflecting using filters. This enables you to produce a realistic reflective surface without obscuring your view of the reflection. You’ll then tweak the reflection’s tones using Levels to make it less dominant and apply a brush tip to an Adjustment Layer’s mask to hide the join between the reflection and the original image.

1.    Increase the canvas size

Increase the canvas size

Click on the link to download reflection_before.jpg, then double-click on the Background thumbnail to unlock it. Go to Image>Resize>Canvas Size and set Height to 48cm. Tick the top middle Anchor box to make the canvas extend below the current image.

2.    Flip the image

Flip the image

Click OK, then click on the Layer 0 thumbnail in the Layers palette. Press Cmd/Ctrl +J to duplicate the layer (or choose Layer> Duplicate Layer). Click on the duplicated layer’s thumbnail to target it. Go to Image>Rotate>Flip Layer Vertical to create a mirror image.

3.    Move and transform

Move and transform

Choose the Move tool and tick the Show Bounding Box option. Drag the flipped reflection down to the bottom of the frame. Click on the bounding box’s top middle control handle and drag it down by 85% to slightly squash the reflection. Hit Return.

4.    Add perspective

Add perspective

To create the illusion of a three-dimensional watery surface, go to Filter>Blur>Radian Blur. Drag upwards in the Blur Centre window so that the blur extends towards the bottom of the frame. Set Amount to 3, Blur Method to Zoom and Quality to Beast. Click OK.

5.    Create ripples

Create ripples

To add a rippling texture to the watery plane, go to Filter>Distort>Glass. Set Distortion to 3, Smoothness to 12 and Scaling to 80%. Set the Texture drop-down menu to Blocks, then use the Zoom tool to zoom in on the preview window and see the new rippling effect. Click OK to confirm your changes.


6.    Darken the reflection

Darken the reflection

Choose Layer>New Adjustment Layer>Levels, then click OK. Next, go to Layer>Create Clipping Mask. Drag the grey midtone adjustment slider under the histogram to 0.75. Grab the Brush tool and choose a black tip with a Size of 600px. Click on the Adjustment Layer’s mask and spray to hide the join.

Expert tip

“Once you’ve extended the canvas size in step 1 you won’t be able to see all of the enlarged image until you zoom right out. To do so quickly, choose the Zoom tool from the Tools palette and tick the Fit Screen button in the options bar. Alternatively, right-click on the image and choose Fit on Screen from the context-sensitive pop-up”.

Learn the lingo

Clipping Mask

When you add a Levels Ajustment Layer to the Layers palette in step 6 it will change the tones of all of the image layers below it. By using the Clipping Mask command (Layer>Create Clipping Mask) you can clip the Adjustment Layer to the reflection layer, so that it will darken the reflection but leave the original layer alone.


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