Water Reflection in Photoshop

In this lesson you will learn how to create a realistic reflection on the water. You can apply this technique to any image.

Materials for the lesson:

Step 1

Open the photo of the castle. The image is too big, so we reduce it. Hit the key combination Ctrl + Alt + I, to open the dialog box and use the parameters shown below:

Step 2

Activate Crop tool (Crop) (C) and select the top of the photo to remove the author’s logo.

Step 3

Key combination Ctrl + J duplicate the background layer. Call the copy “Reflection”.

Step 4

Now we will increase the size of the working canvas, so that was where to place the reflection. We press Ctrl + Alt + C, to open the dialog box and set the settings as shown below:

Click on the “Reflection” layer to activate it, and click Ctrl + T. Click the right mouse button on the image and select Flip vertical (Flip Vertically). When finished, press Enter.

Step 5

Choose Move Tool (Move) (V) and move the layer “Reflection” way down. During the move, hold down the Shift key.

Step 6

Now we create ripples. To do this, we will prepare a special texture and apply it to the layer with reflection. Let’s start by creating a new document sized 4000 x 4000 pixels (Ctrl + N).

Add noise. Move on Filter – Noise – Add Noise (Filter – Noise – Add noise) and apply such parameters.

Next, apply a blur Filter – Blur – Gaussian Blur (Filter – Blur – Gaussian Blur) with a radius of 5 pixels.

Next, apply Image – Adjustments – Curves (Image – Correction – Curves) with the following parameters:

Move on Filter – Filter Gallery (Filter – Filter Gallery) and in Sketch (Sketch) select the filter Bass relief (Relief). The parameters Detail (Details) and Smoothness (Smoothing) set to 2. Now the texture is a bit like a ripple.

Apply the following filter Filter – Blur – Motion Blur (Filter – Blur – Blur in motion) to make the ripples smoother.

Step 7

Now we have to adjust the texture to the reflection. To do this, move the ripples to our working paper with a lock (Ctrl + A and Ctrl + C on the texture, then Ctrl + V on the working document).

Now we transform the ripples in perspective. Press Ctrl + T to activate free transform.

Adjust the height of the texture so that it covers exactly half the image. Inside the transformation frame, right-click and select Perspective (Perspective). The upper nodules are adjusted to the width of the image, and the lower ones are stretched to the sides, as shown below.
Make sure that the upper boundary of the texture is flush with the upper boundary of the reflection. To make it easier to align the arrangement of layers, we activate snapping. View – Snap (View – Attach). When finished, press Enter.

Step 8

On the layers panel, click on the texture that we transformed in the previous step. Then hold down the Ctrl key and click on the thumbnail of the “Reflection” layer to load its selection. We press Ctrl + J, being on a layer with a texture. Name the new layer “Texture” and delete the original texture.

Right click on the “Texture” layer and select in the context menu Duplicate layer (Duplicate layer). In point Destination (Assignment) select New (New), enter the appropriate name of the document and click OK.

Step 9

You may have noticed that there are transparent areas at the top of the texture. Get rid of them. To do this, go Image – Trim (Image – Trimming). In the window that appears, mark Transparent Pixels (Transparent pixels) and click OK. Save the texture (Ctrl + S) somewhere on the computer.

Step 10

Close the document with the texture (Ctrl + W) and return to the worker. Turn off the visibility of the “Texture” layer by clicking on the eye icon to the left of the layer thumbnail.

Step 11

Click the right mouse button on the “Reflection” layer and in the drop-down menu select Convert to Smart Object (Convert to smart object).

Apply the filter to the “Reflection” layer Filter – Filter Gallery (Filter – Filter Gallery). In the Distort section, select the filter Glass (Glass). Please note that there is a small icon in the filter settings. Click on it and select Load texture (Load texture). Select the texture that we saved in step 9.

Increase level Distortion (Distortion) if you want a more pronounced effect. For a soft and neat effect, select a low value (6-7). The advantage of smart objects is that you can change the filter settings at any time. As you can see, we have achieved a more or less good result, however, it does not hurt to add a couple more strokes.

Step 12

Again, make the visible texture by clicking on the eye icon. Change its blend mode to Soft light (Soft light) and reduce the opacity to 18%.

Step 13

As a rule, the color of the sky affects the color of the water. Let’s try to do it. Choose Brush tool (Brush) (B), hold down Alt and left-click somewhere in the sky to take a sample of color.
Create a new layer (Ctrl + Shift + Alt + N) and fill it with sky color (Alt + Backspace). Name this layer “Color”.

Place the “Color” layer above the “Reflection” layer and convert it to clipping mask (we clamp Alt and we click between two layers on the panel of layers).

To convert a layer to a clipping mask means that the top layer will be visible only within the layer below.

Hit D to reset colors to standard and X to swap them.
Add a mask to the “Color” layer Layer – Layer Mask – Reveal All (Layer – Layer Mask – Show All). Activate Gradient tool (Gradient) (G) and choose the standard gradient from the foreground color to the background.

Step 14

Select the layer with the mask, activate Gradient tool (Gradient) (G), hold down the Shift key and fill in the mask from the center to the bottom, as shown in the screenshot. Thanks to this we will remove the upper part of the color on the reflection and create a smooth transition to the bottom.

Reduce the opacity of the “Color” layer to 12%.

Step 15

We are almost done! Our image does not interfere with a little color correction. Create a new adjustment layer Layer – New Adjustment Layer – Curves (Layer – New adjustment layer – Curves).

Step 16

To increase the contrast, add another adjustment layer. Layer – New Adjustment Layer – Black White (Layer – New adjustment layer – Black and White). Change its blend mode to Soft light (Soft light) and reduce the opacity to 46%.

Step 17

Now the image looks too symmetrical, since we have reflected the original layer vertically. In addition, artifacts are viewed at the bottom (they appeared after we applied the filter Glass for reflection). To fix this, let’s frame the image.

Step 18

Now add a vignette. Create a new layer (Ctrl + Shift + Alt + N) and fill it with white. Move on Filter – Lens Correction (Filter – Distortion Correction). From the drop down menu Settings (Settings) select Custom (Custom) and drag the Vignette slider to the left. When finished, click OK, and change the layer blending mode to Multiply (Multiplication).

Notice that the intensity of the “Color” layer has increased. We fix this by reducing its opacity to about 7-12%.

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