Welcome to the Reflection Tutorial!

Written By: Nic Scott
Date: April 30th, 2009

* To start, you will need to get the original image, which you can obtain and download by clicking here! *
You can also click here to see my final result!

Step One - 1

First, open your image in Photoshop. Using the lasso tool (l) make a selection around the car. Be sure to include the shadow underneath the car! Try to be as precise as possible. It helps if you zoom in to around 400% - 600%. Once you have completed your selection, save it. To save your selection, go to Selet, Save Selection, and save it as a new channel called "Car Outline". Reflection Step 1


Step Two - 2

While the car is still selected, duplicate your original layer twice, naming the top layer "Car" and the middle layer "BG". Reflection Step 2


Step Three - 3

With the "BG" layer active, delete the car. (hit Delete) Reflection Step 3


Step Four - 4

With the "Car" layer active, invert your selection (Ctrl+Shift+i) and delete the background. (hit delete) Reflection Step 4


Step Five - 5

Deselect your selection (Ctrl+d). Duplicate your car layer and re-name it "Car Reflection". Then free-transform the layer (Ctrl+t) and flip it vertically. Reflection Step 5


Step Six - 6

Move the free-transform box down, and move your anchor point in the free-transform box from the center to just below the front tire where it meets the road. Reflection Step 6


Step Seven - 7

Rotate the free-tranform box by click outside the free-transform box to the left and drag upward until the rear tires match up correctly. Do not end your free transform just yet! Reflection Step 7


Step Eight - 8

With the free-transform still active, right-click inside the free-transform box and click "Perspective". Then click the middle handle (the little squares on the free-transform box) on the bottom of the free-transform box and move to the left until the perspective of the side of the car appears to match that of the actual car. Once that is complete, hit enter to end the free-transform. Reflection Step 8


Step Nine - 9

This is the most tricky part of this tutorial. Here we will try to correct the rear-end of the car to move up and match to the back of the actual car. The reason this is so tricky is because it relies soley on your ability to nudge, smudge, and warp the car. Make sure you have the "Car Reflection" layer active and go to Filters, Liquify. This will bring up a new window with many options. You will need to adjust your brush size and pressure to your own comfort level. I would suggest trying this step over several times. If you don't like what you get, undo (Ctrl+z and/or Ctrl+Alt+z) and start over. This tool takes some time to get the hang of, but with enough practice, you should be able to re-form the rear-end of the car to match up correctly. To use this tool, simply click the area you wish to adjust, and drag it towards the desired position. This tool is similar to the way the smudge tool works. Again, try this step over many times until you get a reasonable look. Reflection Step 9


Step Ten - 10

Move your "Car Reflection" layer down under the "Car" layer and make the "Car Reflection" layer active. Now we have this strange area under the car that needs to painted over to be black. To do this, simply use the brush tool (b) and paint black color over this area. Notice the difference between step 9 and step 10. Reflection Step 10


Step Eleven - 11

We need to erase some un-desired shadow at the rear of the car from the "Car Reflection" layer. So with the "Car Reflection" layer active, use the eraser tool (e) to erase it. Notice the difference between step 10 and step 11. Reflection Step 11


Step Twelve - 12

Change the opacity of the "Car Reflection" layer to something around 20%-30%. You can make this more or less, all depending on your desired effect. You should begin to see the wet road look. Reflection Step 12




Step Thirteen - 13

We will need to select everything from the edge of the road and down, so that we can have the trees and sky reflect onto the road as well. Use the lasso tool (l) and selet from the road down. You will need to make your selection go across the center of the car like in the example image. Try to imagine where the road line would be. Save this slection as "Road" as a new channel. Reflection Step 13


Step Fourteen - 14

With the "BG" layer active, duplicate it and leave it named "BG copy". Then delete the selection (hit delete), leaving only the sky and tree section remaining. Deslect your selection (Ctrl+d). Then, free-transform (Ctrl+t) the "BG copy" layer and flip it vertically. Reflection Step 14


Step Fifteen - 15

Match the opacity of your "BG copy" layer to that of your "Car Reflection" layer so that they look of a similar value. Then you will need to free-transform (Ctrl+t) your "BG copy" layer and rotate it so that it matches to the original sky line. View the example image below to get an idea of the angle and location to place the free-transform box. Try to match up the tree lines, hills, and clouds. Once you have it in the desired position, hit enter to end the free-transform. Reflection Step 15


Step Sixteen - 16

We need to fill in the empty parts of our sky reflection on the left and right sides of the road. To do this, use the clone stamp tool (s) and hold "Alt" and click a portion of the sky to copy. Then release Alt and click in the area you wish to fill. Try to make this look as seamless as possible. If you turn the opacity of the "BG copy" layer to 100%, you should get something similar to the example image below. Also, in this step you will need to load the selection you saved as "Road". Go to Select, Load Selection, and pick from the drop-down menu "Road". Then invert this selection (Ctrl+Shift+i) and hit delete. This is removing any part of the sky reflection that is not on the road. i.e., the dirt would not reflect the sky. Reflection Step 16


Step Seventeen - 17

Make the "Car Reflection" layer active. While holding "Ctrl", click the "Car Reflection" layer in the layers palette to load the contents of the layer as a selection. Depending on your Photoshop preferrences you will need to click on the paint brush icon in the layers palette, or the thumbnail of the layer contents in the layers palette. After loading the "Car Reflection" as a a selection, make the "BG copy" layer active, and hit delete. This will keep your car reflection and sky reflection from bleeding into each other. Reflection Step 17


Step Eighteen - 18

Finally, re-adjust the opacity of your "Car Reflection" layer and your "BG copy" layer so that they are the same, and viola, you are done! Your final result should resemble something similar to the example below. Then you can apply your own level and color adjustments as you desire. Reflection Step 18


Click here to see my final result!