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Craft a convincing reflection by paying attention to detail

Added on Tuesday 12th of October 2010 05:26 am EST


Adobe Photoshop CS2/CS3/CS4/CS5

Operating Systems:

Macintosh, Microsoft Windows



I enjoyed the article “Add pizzazz to your photo by faking a reflection” in the September 2010 issue. One thing I noticed, however, is that while at first glance you might fool someone into believing it was an accurate reflection, it was not a mirror image. Can you provide some tips on how to manipulate an image to create a more convincing, realistic reflection?


You have a good eye for detail, and you’re right. The parrot in our image was more of a visual enhancement than an accurate reflection. Let’s take a look at what a reflection is and explore ways to manipulate your images so you can fool your audience better than we did!

While it’s true a reflection is a visual copy of an image that’s flipped horizontally or vertically, there’s a little more to it. By understanding a little more about reflections, you’ll be able to create more convincing ones in your digital image manipulations.

When light hits an object, it bounces off in all directions. If part of it bounces directly to your eyes, you see an image. If part of it bounces off, hits a surface, and then bounces off that surface to your eyes, you see a reflection of the image. What the reflection looks like depends on the position of the surface relative to your position.


Get the correct position

If the surface is positioned behind the object, the reflection you see is the back of the object. If it’s underneath, you see the bottom of the object, and if it’s at the side, you see the side of the object, as shown in Figure A.




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