Creating Photo Reflections in Photoshop

Happy Memorial Day to all my artsy friends in the States!  I have a fast and fun tutorial today on adding a cool photo reflection to any photo that includes sunglasses (or regular glasses).



Here is my photo (in honor of Memorial Day):




And here is a look at the before and after photos:


This effect is easier to achieve than you think – and it can be done with any photo.


Let’s get this photo reflection party started!


Step 1:  Create a selection of each lens


Start by selecting one of the lenses (you will need to create a separate selection for the right and left lens). I used the pen tool to create my selections, but you can use your selection tool of choice (pen tool, lasso tool, quick selection tool, etc.).  Once you have the lens selected, copy the selection to a new layer with the shortcut Ctrl/Cmd J.  Follow the same steps for the other lens.  When you are finished you should have three (3) layers – the original photo, the right lens and the left lens.


Step 2:  Fill each lens selection with a solid color


Fill each lens selection with a solid color.  I suggest sampling the darkest color in the lens with the eyedropper tool (making it your foreground color).  Now activate the first lens selection by holding down the Ctrl/Cmd key while clicking on the lens selection thumbnail in the layers palette.  You should see marching ants surrounding the selection on the main document.  To fill the layer with the solid color (which is now your foreground color), use the shortcut Alt/Backspace.  The selection should now be filled with the darkest color in the original lens photo.  Do the same for the other lens selection.


Step 3:  Bring in your Reflective Photo


Now it is time to bring in the photo you want to use for the reflection.  I used a photo that I obtained from Adobe Stock (because I had a specific purpose in mind), but you can use any photo.  Position the photo over both lenses on the main canvas.  Once it is positioned the way you want it to appear, you will need to clip a copy of it to each lens selection.  You can do this by placing a copy on the layer above each selection and then clipping each photo copy to each lens selection by activating the photo layer and using the shortcut Ctrl/Alt/G (or right click on the photo layer and choose “Create Clipping Mask” in the flyout menu).  Once you have each photo in clipped to the each lens selection it is time to start playing with the photo’s appearance to make it look more reflective.


Step 4:  Add an Inner Shadow to each lens selection


The first thing you will want to do is add an inner shadow to make the photo look more like a part of the lens.  Activate one of the lens selection layers and choose “Inner Shadow” from the layer styles popup menu (the fx button at the bottom of the layers palette).  You can play with the settings a bit to render the shadow to suit your photo.  These are the settings I used on my photo:



Step 5:  Warp the Photo to fit a Curved Lens


Next, you will want to warp the photo’s appearance a bit so that it looks like it is reflecting off of a curved surface (since most sunglass lenses are curved).  You can do this by hand using the Warp tool, or you can do it more automatically using the Spherize filter.  This filter is located in the Filter menu under the Distort options.


Activate one of the lens selections by holding Ctrl/Cmd and clicking on the thumbnail in the layers palette.  Then, with the selection active, click on the reflective photo layer.  Choose the Spherize Filter from the drop down filter menu (Filter>Distort>Spherize).  In the popup dialogue box, set the filter to “horizontal only” and set it somewhere between 10% and 40% depending upon the amount of curvature in the lens (the greater the curve, the higher the setting).  Play with the slider until you achieve the look you want.  (Follow these steps for both lens selections.  Keeping in mind that the settings might be different for each depending on the main photo’s perspective.)



Step 6:  Give the Photo a Reflective Appearance


Finally, we want to adjust the blend mode of the photo to make to it look more reflective.  You can do this by making a copy of the reflection photo and placing it on the layer above the original reflection photo.  Clip the copied photo to the lens selection with Ctrl/Alt/G or the Created Clipping Mask command.  Set the blend mode of this layer to multiply or linear burn (play around with different modes until you get the look you want).  You can also adjust the opacity of this layer to make the photo look lighter or darker.  (I set the opacity of the photo over the left lens to 70 and the one over the right lens to 76.)  If the photo is too bright to look like a realistic reflection, try adjusting the opacity on the original reflective photo to let some of the color from the lens selection show through.


And that is it!  Remember, you can use just about any photo for this technique so think creatively about what you want in the reflection.


Until next time ~
Judie (HeyJude)





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One comment

  • Lori May 29, 2017   Reply →

    Wow! What a fun effect and fantastic results. Thank you for the detailed instructions. Happy Memorial Day!

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