Oct 23, 2015

How to Create a Reflection in Photoshop

Learn how to create a reflection in Photoshop in this episode! We use a fun font and beautiful Background to demonstrate how to flip the Text and apply some ripple effects.

If you’d like to check out the free font from this episode, CLICK HERE.

Section 1: Creating & Placing a Smart Object

If you’ve been watching Phlearn for a while, this trick might already be up your sleeve: Smart Objects & Filters! These allow changes to be made to Filters even after they are applied to a layer, and come in handy for many reasons.

To create a smart object on a separate document, right click on the Background layer and Duplicate it. Be sure to check “New” for the destination, and save it under a new file name. Now, on your background image, go to File – Place Linked and select your newly saved Smart Object.

Now, any changes made to the Smart Object will update immediately on the background image! This is great for after the reflection has been placed, because it will update both the original Text and the Reflection accurately and at once.

Section 2: Filter Gallery Basics

If you apply Filters directly onto a white object or white Text, nothing will happen. The Filter needs some Contrast in order to create an effect. So, we can place a black background behind the Text (On the Smart Object file) and then use the blending modeScreen.”

Now, if you go to Filter – Filter Gallery and choose a ripple effect that suits your photograph, it will actually show changes.

Section 3: Applying & Editing the Ripple

From here, it’s up to you to edit the effects however you’d like! In this case, we decreased the Ripple Size and increased the magnitude so that the effect matched up with the actual lake in the photograph.

We also applied a bit of a Gaussian Blur, because the lake reflection isn’t perfectly clear. You can do this by going to FilterBlurGaussian Blur.

We also changed the Color of the Reflection to be a nice subtle blue. This can be done by adding a Hue/Saturation layer, pressing the Colorize button, and altering the Hue, Saturation, and Lightness.

The final step is minor Adjustments, like a Linear gradient that goes from black to white on a Layer Mask to subtly blend away the reflection. A Layer Mask is also great for painting away any unwanted additions in the image.

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    Allan Kolczynski

    Hi Everyone at Phlearn,
    I have watched numerous videos that talk about “smart object” but the videos never give you an idea what factors you need to consider before you decide to convert your photo to a “smart object”. This is important because converting results in significant increase in the size of the file. Little of your expertise in this area is greatly appreciated. Thanks.

    Allan K

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      Sergio Estrada

      Hey Aaron, First off great tutorial as always! Not to be a total buzz kill though, but I would take this a step further to look more authentic. Ideally, you shouldn’t still see the mountain reflection through the text reflection. I would just clone the area where the text reflection exists to a solid water texture from elsewhere in the picture and set this layer behind the reflection layer.

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    Fantastic tutorial…! Inspired me to jump right in and make my own. I was in the Rockies last week and took this image which was only about 45 mins away from where your image was taken! Great coincidence and great lesson! Thanks for what you do…!!!

    Photoshop Tutorials: How to Create a Reflection in Photoshop

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    Question – am I correct that this possible only in PS CC? I have not found the Place Linked in PC CS.
    Othewise it is another awesome tut, no question about that:)


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    Loved this tutorial. Aaron you make it so much fun with your energetic personality. Thanks! I’ve learned so much from you.

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    Jose Tualla

    Do you have book with procedure on how you doing your videos? I want the steps by steps procedures so that I can do it too.