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How to add reflection in images with the help of Photoshop

There is something in photography that seems to be universally loved. Reflections have always been a favorite. They are not always easy to obtain, especially if water is involved. 

By creating blue waves in the water, you lose the possibility of reflection when the wind blows. See the image below, a real reflection taken on a morning just before it started raining on the Yara River in Melbourne. 

It was almost great, but after repeated attempts to achieve something similar, it never happened to me again.

If you like this reflection, then there are ways to do it without waiting for great conditions. You can create it in Photoshop with a fake image. Finding the right image is hard, especially when you start, but the more experience you have in doing it, the easier it will be to find reflection in other images.

Find an image that is straightforward, such as the image below:

Add a reflection layer

Open the image in Photoshop or any program that allows you to work in layers. You can use Photoshop Elements or even GIMP to do this tutorial. Once the image is opened in Photoshop, you need to enlarge it to fit the reflection. You can do this using the Crop tool.

You can double the size of the original image by simply dragging the dot at the end of the image using the Crop tool. If the overall size is too large, you can crop it after the photo is finished.

Press Ctrl + J to copy the original image to the new layer or go to Layer> Duplicate. Go to Edit> Transform> Flip Vertical to edit.

If you adjust the vertical rotation in the Image menu, you rotate all the layers, and in this case you only want to adjust one layer. Select the Move tool, the first item in the toolbar on the left is the cross shape (keyboard shortcut V). Click on the newly created layer and drag the image down as shown below.

You need to know where the image ends, and the reflection begins. In the example image for this tutorial, the edge of the river has a wooden plate that seemed to be a good place to start reflecting. But to do this, you must clean or purify the water in the image.

You need to add a mask to the rotated layer and click on the brush tool to remove part of the image. You can add a mask using the mask icon at the bottom of the Layers panel, or go to Layer> Layer Mask> Reveal all.

Using the Move tool, move your image up to be in line with the original image, in the line between the image and the reflection.

The water part or the area under the reflection should be removed. To do this, click on the eye next to the reflection layer so that it is not visible (turn off that layer). Add a layer mask to the original image and use the brush to hide those parts as you did on the duplicate layer.


Turn on the reflection layer again. Now you will have a basic reflection, but you can do much more than that.

Add a blank layer to your image, then drag it down in the Layers panel to be your bottom layer. If you are unable to do this, it may be because the main layer, called the Background layer, is locked. To remove the lock, double-click on the word Background, you should be able to change the name to something else. This allows you to move the new blank layer down.

Turn off two layers of image to make them disappear Select the Paint Bucket Tool, included with the gradient tool. Right click on it, you will see the Bucket tool.

Click on the foreground and background color selection tool, a window will open for you to select your reflection background color. It is good to choose a dark color and a color similar to your image.

When you have selected the color, fill the layer with it and lighten the other two layers again.

Select the reflective layer and go to the Opacity Slider, which is exactly above the Layers panel. Slightly reduce the opacity of the reflection layer. And make it a little brighter than the original image. 71% is good for this tutorial.

Select the Crop tool to delete the part that is no longer needed. You may also want to crop the image.

Blur the reflection

For the last part, add another blank layer, then select the gradient tool. Make sure black is the foreground color. Add a little gradient below the image to help combine the two images. If you do not use gradient, clear the background, you must click on the option bar. You may also want to change the opacity of this tool to about 50%.

The final image Reflections 

The final image Reflections 

This can be done for many photos and you do not need water to do this. Here is a picture of a train station in Melbourne in which I try to make the street look cluttered.

Here are some other images in different situations for viewing and inspiration. Let your imagination run wild and see how you can use this technique.