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Image Reflection Tutorial

Adobe Photoshop CS2 Tutorial: Image Reflection Tutorial

Like the previous tutorial about Making Curved Edges, this tutorial uses a wonderful tool in Photoshop called Quick Masking. Quick Masking allows you to protect the area of the image from editing while you apply the edits to the rest of the part of the unmasked image.

This tutorial teaches you to create nice reflections of icons, photos and even text! You can see how I use quick masking to do this – and you can even see how I use it to make icons in my Favourites page! This tutorial will be a pretty long one and have lots of images (approx 1mb of image to load in total, but I've tried my best to optimise each image already), so do cross your fingers and get some coffee. I shall not be held responsible if you spilled the cup of coffee anyway :mrgreen:

Like all photoshop tutorials, you must have a copy of the Adobe Photoshop CS2. Here is a demo psd file (685kb) where you can see it in action. Of course it is best if you can read the instructions step by step ;)

Image Reflection - Download Demo PSD File

Let's go!

This tutorial is generally separated into 2 parts – one for making reflections for icons / photos and the other for text. They are similar but have some little tricky differences. 

Reflection for ICONS / PHOTOS 

Step 1 – Open the Image

Step 1 - Open the Image

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Step 2 – You'll Get This…

Step 2 - You'll Get This...

This step can be applied to photos also! We're using icons for demonstration purposes only. Do keep in mind this section applies to both icons and photos.

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Step 3 –  Check Canvas Size

Step 3 - Check Canvas Size

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Step 4 – Remember Dimensions

Step 4 - Remember Dimensions

In this case, the width and height of the current image is 128 x 128. Remeber it by heart! 

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Step 5 – Create New Canvas

Step 5 - Create New Canvas

This can be done by going to File > New, or simply punching the Ctrl + N keys on your keyboard. You'll get this window asking you to specify the dimensions of the new canvas. The width of the new canvas shall stay the same, but the height will be 150% of the current image. Since the height of the current image is 128px, we will make it (128 + 64)px = 192px. This extra vertical space is needed to contain the reflection of the image.

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Step 6 – New Canvas Created

Step 6 - New Canvas Created

You will get this if you follow the steps carefully and you've done the Maths correctly :D

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Step 7 – Create New Fill Layer

Step 7 - Create New Fill Layer

Go to Layer > New Fill Layer > Solid Color… a window will open up. Don't edit any settings and just click OK.

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Step 8 – New Fill Layer Created

Step 8 - New Fill Layer Created

A uniform background colour replaces the original checkerbox background (which indicates transparency). You can use any colour you like, but for the sake of simplicity we will stick to white.

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Step 9 – Drag Image Into New Canvas

Step 9 - Drag Layer Into New Canvas

This is can done directly. Click the image in the old one and without releasing the mouse button, drag the layer into the new canvas. Position the new layer but nudging it using your keypads or using your mouse.

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Step 10 – Duplicate Image Layer

Step 10 - Duplicate Image Layer

A vertical reflection of the image is to be obtained. So this means we'll need to duplicate the current image which you want to create a reflection. Select the layer containing the image and right click, select Duplicate Layer… to create an identical layer.

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Step 11 – Check 

Step 11 - Check

If you've done the previous step correctly you'll get a copy of the layer named "(Layer Name) copy". 

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Step 12 – Vertically Flip New Layer

Step 12 - Vertically Flip New Layer

Vertically flip the new layer by clicking / focusing on the new created layer, and then pressing Ctrl + T for Free Transform. A free transform toolbar will appear above. Click at the input blank indicated by a "H:" and the default value is 100.0%. Edit it to -100.0% (negative 100.0%) so that the image will be vertically flipped.

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Step 13 – Nudge Flipped Layer

Step 13 - Nudge Flipped Layer

Now you've got the vertically flipped layer. Use your mouse or your keypad to nudge / drag the layer such that the image is positioned directly below the image. To achieve perfect vertical movement, you can try pressing Shift when you drag your mouse downwards.

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Step 14 – Edit Layer In Quick Mask Mode

Step 14 - Edit Layer In Quick Mask Mode

Click on the icon as indicated in the screenshot above while you focus on the vertically flipped layer. The original layer shall be left untouched at all circumstances.

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Step 15 – Select Gradient Tool

Step 15 - Select Gradient Tool

A gradient tool is needed to create a fading off effect of the reflection. Click on it as indicated above while in Quick Mask Mode.

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Step 16 –  Specify The Gradient Pattern

Step 16 - Specify The Gradient Pattern

By default you will get the gradient pattern named "Foreground to Transparent". If you cannot find this gradient pattern or the colours are differnt, close this window, and when at the photoshop main working area press "D" to change to the default black and white colours of the colour palette. This will give you the gradient pattern as above when you click the Gradient Tool button again.

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Step 17 – Create Gradient Over Image

Step 17 - Create Gradient Over Image

A masking gradient can be created by clicking the gradient tool tip at the image (best position to start the gradient is clicking at the right center of the image) and then dragging it towards and bottom. End when you are at the bottom of the canvas and do not exceed the image area. You will see a red hue fading towards the bottom when you release the mouse button.

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Step 18 – Edit In Standard Mode

Step 18 - Edit In Standard Mode

When you're done with creating the gradient, click on the Edit In Standard Mode button to exit the Quick Mask Mode and return to Standard Mode.

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Step 19 – Selection Marquee Created

Step 19 - Selection Marquee Created

At the instand you enter Standard Mode you will have a Selection Marquee at the bottom of the image. Notice that you must be at the layer which holds the vertically flipped image and not the original image. Press delete and you will get the results above – a fading reflection.

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Step 20 – Not Happy With Reflection?

Step 20 - Not Happy With Reflection?

If you think the reflection created is too bright / obvious, you can select the opacity and decrease it to any number you like. In this case I tuned it down to 60%. This is all about personal preference ;) If you still unhappy with the results, e.g. too little reflection, return to Step 14 and redraw the gradient. You can try out experimenting with it until you get the results you desire.

Regretted that you did not change the background colour before you start? Fret not. You can still change it here by clicking on the layer named Colour Fill (some number, but most probably is "1") and change the colour of the background. Below is how the reflection looks like in white (left) and dark (right) background:

Final Result - Reflection in white (left) and dark (right) background.

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Reflection for TEXT

Step 1 – Create New Canvas

Step 1 - Create New Canvas

This step is pretty self-explanatory :D 

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Step 2 – Enter Text

Step 2 - Enter Text

Select the Horizontal Type Tool, draw a textarea and start typing what you want.

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Step 3 – Duplicate Text Layer

Step 3 - Duplicate Text Layer

Using the same method in the first part above for icons and photos, duplicate the text layer.

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Step 4 – Rasterize Duplicated Text Layer

Step 4 - Rasterize Duplicated Text Layer

With the Duplicated Text Layer in focus, right-click it and select Rasterize Type. This is because text layers are all vertors and they cannot be directly edited. So you'll need to make the layer directly editable.

***WARNING: Rasterizing the layer means no further modification to the text layer can be made – so check for spelling / typo errors as well as confirm the colour of the text before proceeding!

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Step 5 – Vertically Flip Duplicated Text Layer

Step 5 - Vertically Flip Duplicated Text Layer

Vertically flip the duplicated text layer by pressing Ctrl + T and then editing the vertical scale to -100.0%, just like before.

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Step 6 – Position The Flipped Text Layer

Step 6 - Position The Flipped Text Layer

Using keypad or a mouse (when you're using mouse press Shift at the same time to ensure perfect vertical movement). Do ensure that the flipped layer text does not overlap the original text. In this case we have the protruding "g" tail and so we must make sure that the tails don't touch. Best distance between them is about 1 ~ 3 pixels. This depends on personal prefernece too! You can put the reflection 100px away too… it's all up to you.

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Step 7 – Create Gradient In Quick Mask Mode

Step 7 - Create Gradient In Quick Mask Mode

With the Copied, Flipped text layer in focus, edit the layer in Quick Mask Mode and create ba gradient by selecting the Gradient Tool and dragging it downwards. Ensure that you do not drag beyong the bottom of the canvas!

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Step 8 – Return To Standard Mode

Step 8 - Return To Standard Mode

Click Edit in Standard Mode when you're done with the gradient. A selection marquee will appear and with the copied layer in focus, press delete to clear the selected part. A reflection fading towards the bottom is created.

And here is the result you will get:

Final Result - Black text and reflection against white background (top) and white text and reflection against dark backgound (bottom)

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Hope this tutorial helps! Do you have any comments or suggestions to improve this tutorial? Feel free voicing them out at the comments section below :D Have a great day playing around with Adobe Photoshop CS2!

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