Tuesday 21st May 2013
|| by Mark Laurie|
Creating a reflection can be a simple or a complicated affair. There is the quick ‘n' dirty to the long and elaborate. I have had a lot of fun with each, while receiving a lot of income from the effect. It’s a technique going way back in Photoshop history, pretty much since the appearance of layers.
I’ll start with a 'simple reflection' approach first. These steps pretty much form the foundation to any mirror effect. With your image open [Fig 1] go to Image>Canvas Size, increase the size of your image by the amount you expect the reflection to require. I often just double it, cropping the excess out later. Position the little, 'expand' icon so the canvas increases in size at the bottom of the image, hit OK.
We now have [Fig 2] if your background palette was white. The colour of the background does not matter. Activate your Marquee tool in rectangular shape. Make your selection starting from one of the top corners going down to the opposite corner. Adjust the horizontal line of the marquee to where you want your reflection to start. In my image it was just at the shoulder and foot position.
You want to be precise here so enlarge your image to 75% or 100% depending on the image size. Keep to increments of 25%, Photoshop gives you a true pixel placement at those settings, it fudges it on the others (but not in CS4 – Ed.) . If your marquee selection is not quite correct, go to Select >Transform Selection. You will see your marquee take on the look of the Crop tool. Grab a corner of the marquee with your mouse and adjust the line at the reflection point until it sits right where the reflection will start. Be sure your marquee goes fully from side to side.
Hit Control/Cmd J to duplicate the selection into a new layer, then Edit>Transform>Vertical Flip. Your layer should be upside down now. Hold the Shift key down, then, with your Move tool drag the new layer down to the reflection point. This keeps the layer image from moving side to side. You have your mirror image.
But it looks rather fake. It might have passed as brilliant a few years ago, but not now. You have to tidy it up a bit. First, use the Levels or Curves in Image>Adjustments to darken it down – reflections are almost always darker in the real world. Use the Clone tool to soften the transfer edge of the mirror layer. You can also give it a slight blurring.
Let's go a little further. In [Fig 3], my mirror image has a few extra things done to it. First, as you can see from [Fig 2], there is a chunk of white. I cloned the fabric into that, covering the white. Then the reflected image was made transparent so the texture below started to come through. This gives the reflection a sense of water over a textured surface. The top image was toned slightly warm and the lower image was tinted cooler. Easy to do when layered; use a mask to blend the tones for a smooth transition.
This all goes pretty quickly once you get the rhythm. You can create actions to speed up the work for you. I do my sales live, in Photoshop, on small resolution images. Doing something like this is like magic to the customer. In this client's viewing presentation, creating this quick mirror effect so thrilled her she shifted her planned 8x10 request to a 30x40 for her wall!
Another example of the mirror effect making a difference in a sale is image [Fig 4]. She was struggling to decide which image she would like in her 8x10 album collection, there is only the slightest difference between the two images. Inspired, I changed the background layer to layer one, doubled the canvas height with the expansion going below the layer one, made a marquee selection of the other family image with the bottom marquee line just below their hands, moved that over to the working image and flipped it. I then aligned them to mirror each other then fine tuned the mirror edge with a mask, nudging up the mirrored image until the reflection was right, finally cropping it.
They were relieved they did not have to decide which image to choose. Her husband asked which way they should hang it. 'You know,' I explained, 'we could frame it so it hangs both ways, you can flip it as your whims suit you'. They thought that was perfect, buying a custom frame for the 30x40 print.
This mirror stuff is great for sales; three minutes of inspirational Photoshop work takes you from one 8x10 to a merged 30x40 print, with custom digital work and specialty framing.
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