174. Simulate a Water Reflection
Before You Begin
91 About Layers and the Layers Palette
99 Move, Resize, Skew, or Distort a Layer
Using a graphics editor such as Photoshop Elements, you can create lots of illusions. One of the most popular is simulating a reflection. When creating a simulated reflection, you should keep several things in mind: First, an object reflected in water is distorted by the angle of that reflection. Also, the object's reflection is distorted by the ripples in the water. Luckily, both of these distortions are easy to simulate in the Editor.
Add Reflection Layer
Open an image in the Editor in Standard Edit mode and save it in Photoshop (*.psd) format. Using your favorite Selection tools, select the object or portion of the image you want to reflect and choose Layer, New, Layer via Copy to copy that portion of the image to a new layer. Name this new layer Reflection.
To create my illusion, I pasted in my house from another image, and put it on its own layer (House). I then selected this layer and duplicated it, creating the Reflection layer. If the object you want to reflect is isolated on its own layer, you don't have to select it first; just duplicate the layer as I did.
If you want to make some text look as if it's being reflected in water, try applying the Water Reflection effect on the Styles and Effects palette.
To create your own fake water, tr.y setting the foreground and background colors to blue, one just a little lighter than the other. Choose Filter, Render, Clouds; then apply one of the ripple filters described here to stir the "water."
You must flip the portion of the image you copied so that it will appear as a reflection. To do that, make sure that the Reflection layer is selected on the Layers palette. Then choose Image, Rotate, Flip Layer Vertical.
Click the Move tool on the Toolbox. Drag the reflection into place. Distort or skew the reflection as needed, using the Image, Transform, Free Transform command. See 99 Move, Resize, Skew, or Distort a Layer.
If the object is being reflected in water, you should add some ripples to the reflection for realism. The Editor supplies you with a variety of filters you can use to apply the ripples. Try them all and choose the one that works best for your current image: Choose Filter, Distort, and then select Glass, Ocean Ripple, Ripple or Zig Zag.
With calmer water like the kind in my lakeside photo, none of these rippling filters did the job. So I tried a few of the Brush Strokes filters and found that the Sprayed Strokes filter worked best at producing those gentle horizontal waves evident in my final result. I set the Stroke Direction to Horizontal and used a fairly long Stroke Length and wide Spray Radius. You can also try Filter, Stylize, Wind.
Finally, to allow the water to show through the reflection just a bit, lower the Opacity of the Reflection layer by adjusting that setting on the Layers palette.
View the Result
After you're satisfied with the result, make any other changes you want and save the PSD file. Resave the result in JPEG or TIFF format, leaving your PSD image with its layers intact so that you can return at a later time and make different adjustments if you want.
I've always wanted to see what it would look like if we owned a home on a lake. So I copied our house into a photo of a small lake and added a reflection of our house on the water to complete the illusion. There's no point in living lakefront without a boatespecially when you have a paved "boat ramp" (the driveway) and a boat house (the garage)so I added one inalong with the boat's reflection.
One thing you have to be careful of when combining several images like this into a single photo is to match the weather conditions throughout. My house photo was a bit dark, being taken on an overcast day. So, I lightened the House layer a bit and increased the contrast to match the sunny conditions of the lake photo. Although the boat photo was taken on a sunny day, it was almost too sunny, so I reduced the brightness of the Boat layer just a bit. Look for this image in the Color Gallery.