Archive for Hastywords

For HastyWords – A Tutorial

Posted in Photoshop Tutorial with tags , , , , on March 14, 2013 by Art of Photography

The blogger Hastywords requested some guidance on how to create the reflected image used in my last post (The Art of Photoshop).

Here is the image:


Here are the instructions:

1. Open a new document at least twice the width of your primary image. Height should be the same.
a. The background can be any color you want as we may change it in the end. I started with white. Transparent would be okay too.

2. Bring in your primary image in whatever method you think best. I have CS6 so I drag & drop (it automatically creates a new layer). Name it Primary.

3. Locate it along one side of your canvas (for this tutorial assume the initial image was placed along the right hand side)

4. Duplicate the primary image (Ctrl + J/Cmd +J)
a. Drag it to the ‘other’ side. Name it Reflection
b. Flip it horizontally (Ctrl + T/Cmd + T then right click >> flip horizontally)

5. Here is the fun/artistic part. Using transformation tools move the reflection image as you want it to look in your final composition. In my example I had her head touching the window and so I needed a point where the hair met but I also needed her neck and head to expand away from that point at an angle. I resized and rotated the image then used warp to fill in any gaps.
a. You may have to trim parts of the two layers if there are overlapping edges. To avoid this, I extracted the heads onto their own layers.

6. Once you have the position you want for the reflection layer
a. Use a Levels adjustment (Ctrl +L/Cmd + L). Using the RGB channel (not an individual color channels), start with these settings:
i. Input 0/2.1/255
ii. Output 40/255
b. Set the layer opacity initially to 75%

7. Now import whatever you are using for the world outside your ‘window’ (the cityscape in the example). Name the layer Outside
a. Put it under your Reflection layer
b. Adjust it to fit in the reflection portion of your image (resize/scale/delete parts, etc).

8. Optional, you may want to blur the image slightly. Either Gaussian at somewhere between 1 & 2 pixels or Motion blur (start at a sharp vertical angle like 80, and distance 25)

9. Set the opacity of this layer to something that is visible but not overpowering of the reflection image (Side note about me. I always use either 25%, 50%, or 75% for opacity. I don’t think the human eye is sensitive enough to discern between 63% and 68%).
a. Change the blend mode to hard light or Overlay.

10. Because of the nature of the cityscape, I changed the color of the background layer to Black. Boom! This picture then took off!

Now tweak all these settings until you have the image you want. All these tutorials or formulas are good starting points but the nature of the images used, what their color spaces are, the final tone you want to set, all will influence the exact settings that work best. In my piece, I re-rotated the head and warped it several times, changed the reflection to not be so hazy white (‘cause it was night time), made the reflected head more visible and made the contrast in the city stronger to achieve the final product. I then applied a cool color filter top layer (CS6 does this automatically with a photo filter adjustment layer at 25% but you can do manually by creating a new layer at the top, filling it with a medium blue, changing the blend mode to color or hue and adjusting the opacity of the layer).

This is not your usual step-by-step tutorial but the best use of this technique is as an enhancement to some project you are already working on. I felt a general discussion of the technique would make it more useful as well as help get away from a specific versions of Photoshop. The basics are: Have a canvas big enough to hold two copies of your reflecting picture, bring the picture in, copy and reverse it, position it like a reflection, haze it and wash out some of the saturation, give the reflection a context by providing a background, tie all the pieces together with a overlay color.


***NOTE: This is a first version. I expect people to have problems with some of the steps as currently written. Email me with your questions and we will correct them, adjust them, modify them, twist them, fluff them, or feed them to dolphins as necessary.

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