In this tutorial, you will learn how to create a window reflection effect in Photoshop.
This effect will create the illusion that the photo was taken through a glass window.
The images used in this Photoshop tutorial are all Adobe Stock images, but you could easily follow along with your photos with no problem at all.
This technique helps give your photo a bit more depth and emotion. Even if you never intend to fake reflections in Photoshop, this tutorial will still serve as a great crash course in how Blending Modes work, and how to use adjustment layers to control how they blend.
Table of contents
- Getting Started Window Reflection Effect In Photoshop
- Use Blending Modes To Create A Reflection Effect
- Tips and Useful Techniques
- Add a Color Tint to Enhance The Glass Effect
- Applying a Texture To Create a Stained Glass Effect
- Creating Highlights and Flares
- Blur and Add Noise To Create a More Cohesive Image
- Other Things You Can Do To Improve The Window Reflection Effect In Photoshop
Getting Started Window Reflection Effect In Photoshop
You will need at least three images to work with: a subject, a reflection image, and a texture image which will be necessary to create a stained glass effect.
You could find the photos used in this video on Adobe Stock, or you can simply shoot your own in just a few minutes.
Stock images utilized in this tutorial:
Use Blending Modes To Create A Reflection Effect
This video will teach you to work with Blending Modes to create a reflection effect.
We will do a quick crash course on how blending modes work and how they can help us create a window reflection effect in Photoshop.
Tips and Useful Techniques
This video shares many tips and helpful techniques to adjust the reflection layer to fit the picture perfectly.
The first way is to create a new Levels Adjustment Layer to change the luminance values fo the reflection layer to show or hide different areas to make the reflection work better.
This is possible because the reflection layer is set to the Lighten Blending Mode which conceals dark pixels and reveals bright pixels. This means that as pixels become darker than 50% gray, they start disappearing. If they become brighter than 50% gray, then they start appearing.
Another useful technique is to clip a Black & White Adjustment Layer to the reflection layer. Then set the Blending Mode to Luminosity and adjust the luminance values of specific colors to conceal or reveal them.
Add a Color Tint to Enhance The Glass Effect
Have you ever noticed that some glass windows have a green or blue tint? In this video, you will learn how to re-create this effect with a Hue & Saturation Adjustment Layer.
By checking the “Colorize” checkbox you can apply a color to an entire layer, then use the Opacity slider to adjust the intensity of that color.
Applying a Texture To Create a Stained Glass Effect
Perfection doesn’t exist in the real world. Even the cleanest windows should have some dust or stains. To make the composite look more natural, we will use a texture layer to apply subtle stains on the glass.
You don’t need to worry about creating complicated masks since we will use the “Blend If” sliders in the Layers Styles window to selectively hide bright pixels and keep the dark ones.
Creating Highlights and Flares
This Photoshop tutorial will show you how to create lights shining on the glass with the help of the Linear Dodge (Add) blending mode.
Linear Dodge (Add) is one of the 8 special blending modes in Photoshop that gives your different results when you adjust opacity compared to fill. Also, these eight blending modes blend differently when the “Transparency Shapes Layer” checkbox is unchecked in the Layers Style window.
Blur and Add Noise To Create a More Cohesive Image
With the Lens Blur filter, we’ll add a slight blur and add a bit of noise to make the image blend better and make it appear more as a real photo and not a composite.
This is a trick that you can use on all your composites, not just this glass window reflection effect.
Other Things You Can Do To Improve The Window Reflection Effect In Photoshop
We did not have enough time in this video to show all the different things that you can do to create a realistic glass window effect.
In your own projects, you may want to try different things to enhance this effect, such as flipping the image horizontally. Especially if there is visible text since in the real world, a reflection will show the text inverted.
You may also want to blur the reflection layer to match the depth of field in the image. Having a reflection that is too sharp may be a give-a-away that the image is a composite.
This Glass Window Reflection Effect Tutorial You Will Learn How To:
00:46 – Insert Adobe Stock Images
01:36 – Create The Reflection Effect With The Lighten Blend Mode
02:00 – Use the Levels Adjustment Layer To Enhance the Lighten Blend Mode
04:46 – Enhance The Highlights of The Reflection
06:05 – Creating a Green Tint to Enhance a Window Effect
06:48 – Using a Texture To Add Dirty to The Glass
07:56 – Add a Darkening Gradient
08:43 – Create Highlights and Flares
12:06 – Add a Blur and Noise To Make The Composite More Cohesive
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