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Water Reflection

When you think of reflections, you probably think first of a scene or building reflected in a lake or large body of water. These reflections are fairly simple to create:

  1. Open your original image in Photoshop.
  2. Double-click the background layer to make it into a regular layer.
  3. Enlarge the canvas to make room for the reflection. Choose Image > Canvas Size and read the current size from the top of the Canvas Size dialog box.
  4. Double the height of the image. To do this, click the Relative checkbox (this option lets you determine how much extra canvas to add), and click the box in the top center of the nine boxes in the Anchor preview. Type the value of the current height of the image into the dialog box (to add an area the same as the current image height, effectively doubling it), and click OK (see Figure 2). Now you should have plenty of extra room below the image.
    Figure 2

    Figure 2 Add more canvas to the foot of the image so you have room for the reflection.

  5. Select and delete any portion of the bottom of the image you don’t want to use.
  6. The next step is to duplicate the image layer. Right-click the image layer in the Layer palette, choose Duplicate Layer, type a name for the new layer (let’s call it Reflection), and click OK.
  7. Click the Reflection layer name to select the layer.
  8. Flip the reflection image vertically by choosing Edit > Transform > Flip Vertical.
  9. Use the Move tool to drag the flipped version of the image down below the original image, and align the two images carefully.
  10. The reflection is in place now, but it’s probably not particularly realistic. To make it look more real, add a ripple to the Reflection layer. Choose Filter > Distort > Ripple and select a ripple amount of either Small or Medium (see Figure 3). When you click OK, Photoshop adds a subtle distortion to the reflection, making it look more like water.
    Figure 3

    Figure 3 Add a ripple filter effect to make the reflected area look like water.

    Because not all reflections are perfect, let’s make the reflection disappear as it moves further away from the reflection line.

  11. Add a new layer (Layer > New > Layer). Fill the new layer with black, muddy brown, or blue-gray. Drag the new layer under all the other layers.
  12. Return to the Reflection layer. Add a layer mask by clicking the Add Layer Mask icon at the foot of the Layer palette.
  13. Click in the layer mask and then click the Gradient tool on the toolbar. Select a White to Black gradient and set the style to Linear.
  14. Drag vertically on the image with your mouse to fill the mask with the gradient. It should be filled with white at the top and black at the bottom. If not, click the Reverse checkbox on the toolbar and repeat the gradient fill until you get a transition from fully opaque to partially transparent for the Reflection layer. As you do this, the underlying black or brown layer will show through (see Figure 4).
    Figure 4

    Figure 4 The reflection has been made partially transparent so it’s not as perfect and is therefore more realistic.

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