Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Creating realistic reflections used to be something only Photoshop masters could do. All that has changed.

It wasn’t that long ago that making realistic reflections in Photoshop was quite the challenge. Sure you could copy your entire image and paste it upside down beneath the original, but it never looked quite believable. If you wanted a water reflection with ripples in the water, you may as well forget it, unless you were a Photoshop guru. StudioMagic changed all that with the introduction of StudioMagic 2’s reflection panel.

Let’s first take the mirror reflection, the easier of the two types of reflections. You’ll want to crop the bottom of your photo first, because you’re going to want your reflection to butt up against the bottom of your original. Choose “Reflections” in your StudioMagic 2 panel and select Mirror Reflection “entire image”. We’ll cover use of the “Select Subject” option later. Your adjustments are defaulted to height and intensity 100%, finally, select “Create”

You have now created an accurate mirror image, but rarely do reflections display at 100% or the same height as the subject above, this is where your height adjustment comes in. 

Move the height slider to the left, in this case 70%. Again, hit create and you will see your mirror reflection change to a more accurate representation of a mirror image. If you want to try a few different sizing attempts, use the “Undo” at the bottom of the panel to go back one step. To start from scratch, select “Start Over” As you get used to the outcome of adjustment sizes, you can make them at the beginning of the process. 

Instances where your subject is not exactly horizontal are handled a little bit differently. Below you can see the refection does not butt up correctly to the bottom of the scooter because of it’s slightly off angle position. There’s two ways to correct this.

After you create your reflection, select the mirror layer that was just created. Go to “File” “Transform” and choose “Distort”.  Pull your anchor points until the reflection matches up properly with the subject. In this case I created an entire image reflection, which means when I distort the mirror layer, the white background layer beneath may show on the sides. No problem, create a third layer, sample the color of the background and fill to match. Move this fill layer to the back and you won’t notice a thing. 

The better way to do it would be to use the StudioMagic CutOut tool to remove the scooter. Add additional color canvas below the original.  Select the newly CutOut Scooter and in your StudioMagic Reflections panel choose “Selected Subject” This will make a mirror layer of just the scooter which will be much easier to distort and fit. 

As you’d expect, there are more variables with water reflections. Along with height and intensity, you now have “ripples”, “cooling” and “blur” It looks like a pretty calm day on the San Diego waterfront, so I’ll dial back my ripples to “2” height at 50% and 0% for both cooling and blur. Select “entire image”…

I hit a perfect match on the first try. We didn’t need the extra cooling because the subject image is already cool and it appears to be a bright day, which would give you sharp reflections rather than blurred. But I’d like to add a little more interest.

By simply dialing up “ripples” to “10” and selecting the update button it changes the whole look of the picture. Remember you can undo and as many times as you want until you get the right look. Just experiment, that’s the fun of it all. 

This is where the “selected subject” option comes into play. This is the original image, but I’d like to put a second subject into the same image. 

This is my studio shot of Kimberly, I first use the CutOut tool in StudioMagic 1 which simplifies Photoshop’s refine edge to easily remove Kim from her studio backdrop. StudioMagic’s CutOut is covered in earlier blogs and videos. 

I place Kimberly into the target image and choose the “select subject” option, then adjust my sliders to: Ripples 7, Height 93, Cooling 3 and for the first time, intensity at 95. Because our reflection is being applied over an existing image layer, this will give us additional latitude with the intensity adjustment.

Now hit “Create” It was that easy, and that’s not all, water reflections can be used to reflect clouds, birds even batman in the water if he happened to be flying over at the time.

Harry Kerker, is the president and co-founder of LayerCake inc.

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