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How to fake a reflection in Photoshop

How to fake a reflection in Photoshop - Learn how to create a water reflection in Photoshop.

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Adobe Photoshop

If you have a great landscape you think would look really great reflected in a lake this tutorial will show you how to do it in Photoshop.

How the image started:
Landscape shot that a reflection will be added to

Step 1: Increase your canvas size

Once you have your image open go to: Image>Canvas Size to extend the size of the area we are working with. Change cm to percent and in the box next to height type 200 then click OK.

Increase the canvas size

Step 2: Duplicate your layer

Now you have a work space twice as big as it was before you can create the layer for your reflection. Drag your layer onto the new layer icon in the layers palette and rename it to 'reflection'.

Step 3: Flip the image

Our layer is currently the wrong way to be a reflection so with the reflection layer active (so it's coloured blue in the layers palette) go to Image>Transform>Flip Vertically. It should now be upside down and if you haven't already, drag it into place.

Flip your image

Step 4: Watery reflection

The image may be upside down but it doesn't look like it's reflecting in water. To give it that watery feel we're going to add three adjustments. The first is a Motion Blur which you get to by going to Filter>Blur>Motion Blur. Set the angle to 270 and the distance so the image just starts to shimmer. Around 39 pixels worked for us. Click OK then go to Filter>Distort Ripple. Have a go at adjusting the amount and change the sizes of the ripples until you find something you like. Just remember more subtle ripples will be more believable than gigantic ones. If you feel the water still needs more movement apply a third adjustment by going back to the Motion Blur option but this time change the angle to 0 so the blur flows horizontally.

Ripple Filter in photoshop  

Use motion blur to make your reflection look like it's on water

Step 5: Deepen the water

If you want to add some depth to the water you've created go to Image>Adjustment>Brightness/Contrast and lower the brightness slider enough to create the sense of a little depth. Try adjusting the Saturation too to give the water a slightly greyer feel. You can do this by going to Image>Adjustment>Hue/Saturation.

 Adjust saturation in Photoshop

Step 6: Crop your image

When you usually take a photo of a landscape with the reflection in the lake you wouldn't include the whole lake and the normal landscape scene. For this reason we are going to crop the image down slightly to make it more believable. The easiest way to do this is with the Crop Tool. Simply draw around the area of the image you want to keep and hit the enter key to delete the rest. The areas in shade are the areas that will be deleted when you do this.

Once your crop's complete, your image is finished.  
Finished image:
Landscape with a a reflection

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