In this tutorial, we’ll learn how to create a water reflection effect in Photoshop. You can use these techniques on other pictures too in order to create the same effect.
- Adobe Photoshop CS
- Castle image
Open the castle image and reduce its size according to the following settings:
Using the Crop Tool, remove the author’s trademark and the extra space on the left, right and top. (You can credit the author by linking to the image or his website).
Duplicate the background layer by selecting Layer > Duplicate Layer > OK and name the new layer “Reflection”.
We’ll now make space to place our reflection by increasing the canvas size. Press Ctrl+Alt+C and use the following settings:
Make the Reflection layer active by clicking on it and press Ctr+T to transform it. We’ll now flip the image by right-clicking on the image and selecting Flip Vertical. After flipping, press Enter.
Select the Move Tool and drag the Reflection layer down while holding Shift. Now, the result looks like a reflection but it isn’t too realistic, so we’ll work on that in the following steps.
We need to create ripples for the water, but we’ll first have to make a water ripple texture that we can use on the Reflection layer. We’ll work on the texture in a new document, so press Ctrl+N to open one of 4000px height and 4000px width.
Add a little noise by selecting Filter > Noise > Add Noise and keep the following values:
We’ll need a rougher grain to make ripples. In order to achieve that, we’ll first blur the layer and then increase the contrast. Go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur and apply a 5px blur.
Now, go to Image > Adjustments > Curves and drag both sliders towards the spike.
Select Filter > Filter Gallery, choose Bass Relief from the Sketch folder and set Detail and Smoothness to 2.
To obtain more elongated, smoother waves, go to Filter > Blur > Motion Blur and apply a 35px blur.
We’ll have to match the Reflection layer to the texture and in order to do that, copy and paste the texture into our original document.
To transform the texture layer, press Ctrl+T and reduce its height to fit the height of the Reflection layer. Then, right-click in the transformation boundary and choose Perspective. Now, drag the bottom handles out and the top handles in to obtain a transformation similar to the one below. Ensure that the texture’s upper bounds don’t exceed the Reflection layer’s upper bounds.
Make the texture layer active by clicking on it. Now, click on the Reflection layer while holding Ctrl to select its pixels. Duplicate the layer by pressing Ctrl+J, name the new layer “Texture” and delete the previous one (Layer 1).
In the layers palette, right-click on the Texture layer, select Duplicate Layer and choose the destination of the document as new.
To remove the transparent area above the texture, go to Image > Trim and select Transparent Pixels. Press Ctrl+S to save the texture anywhere on your computer.
Let’s go back to our original document now. Hide the Texture layer by clicking on the layer visibility icon (the eye) in the layers palette.
In the layers palette, right-click on the Reflection layer and select “Convert to Smart Object”.
Now, go to Filter > Filter Gallery and choose Glass filter in the Distort folder. Click on the little icon beside the name of the texture, select Load Texture and choose the texture you saved in step 9.
If you want a subtle effect, select a lower Distort value, but if you want a more pronounced effect, select a higher Distort value.
Our reflection doesn’t have the same reflective quality as water, so we’ll now add that. Make the Texture layer visible again and change its opacity to 18% and layer blending mode to Soft Light.
Water usually has a bluish tint reflected from the sky, so let’s add that effect in our reflection. With the Brush Tool, Alt-click on the blue sky to make that color the foreground color. Now, create a new layer and name it “Color”. Fill this layer with the foreground color.
Move the Color layer below the Texture layer. Now, clip the Reflection layer to the Color layer by clicking between the two layers while holding the Alt key.
To go back to the default colors, press D and then switch between these colors by pressing X. Create a layer mask for the Color layer by selecting Layer > Layer Mask > Reveal All. Now, select the Gradient Tool and choose the Foreground to Background option.
Select the layer mask and using the Gradient Tool, drag downwards while holding the Shift key as shown below. Doing so will make sure that the Color layer will be hidden in the above part of the Reflection layer and the Color layer will gradually become more visible in the lower parts.
Set the Color layer’s opacity to 12%.
Now, let’s improve the appearance of the image. Create a Curves Adjustment Layer by selecting Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Curves and make the following changes:
Create a Black & White Adjustment Layer by selecting Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Black & White. Change its opacity to 46% and layer blending mode to Soft Light.
We created some pixel artifacts in the lower part of the image when we applied the Glass filter, so let’s remove that by cropping the picture.
In this final step, we’ll add the Vignette effect. Make a new layer and fill it with the color white. Select Filter > Lens Correction, go to the Custom tab and drag the Vignette Amount slider to the left. Also, change the layer blending mode to Multiply and lower the opacity of the Color layer to 7%.
And we’re done!