photoshop creative

Take reflections out of bounds

Posted in:
Tips & Tutorials, by Mark White
May 17, 2017

Get inspired by the four seasons to create a reflected mirror effect using masks, adjustments and custom images.

1. Set the stage

Insert your background. To create the mirror, create a new layer (Shift+Cmd/Ctrl+N) and name it Mirror. Grab the Rectangular Marquee tool (M), create a rectangular selection, then fill it with black. Press Cmd/Ctrl+D to deselect.

2. Create the mirror frame

Double-click over the Mirror layer to open the Layer Style window. Click on Stroke. Set the Size to around 30 pixels, Position: Inside, keep the Blend Mode: Normal and Opacity at 100%. Now choose Fill Type: Gradient. Open the Gradient Editor and choose the Preset: Metal Silver and click OK.

3. Transform in 3D

Right-click on the Mirror layer and choose ‘New 3D extrusion from selected layer’. Open the Properties panel and set the Extrusion Depth to 0.2 inches. To apply a material, go to the 3D panel and click on Mirror Extrusion. Go to the Properties panel, open the Material Editor and choose Metal Silver.

4. Adjust the light and render

In the 3D panel, click on Infinite Light and drag the controller, moving it to the top-centre. Go to 3D panel and click Scene. Now in the Properties panel, uncheck Shadows. Go to 3D>Render 3D Layer.

5. Mask the frame

Duplicate the 3D layer (Cmd/Ctrl+J). In the Layers panel, right-click and choose Rasterize 3D. Grab the Magic Wand tool (W) and select the black area. Create a layer mask (click the Add Layer Mask button at the bottom of the Layers palette). Hide the original 3D mirror layer.

6. Create a clipping mask

Now go to File>Place Embedded and add an autumnal background. Press Cmd/Ctrl+Opt/Alt+G to create a clipping mask. Click and drag the mask you created in the last step onto the Autumn layer to reveal the frame around the mirror.

7. Place more images

Place the autumnal subject. Resize it and drag over the mirror. Now create a clipping mask (Cmd/Ctrl+Opt/Alt+G). Let’s use the Levels to make a quick tonal adjustment. Press Cmd/Ctrl+L, set the Input Levels to 0, 0.90, 235 and click OK.

8. Use custom brushes

Load some leaf brushes. Press F5 and check Shape Dynamics and Scattering. Adjust the Size and Angle Jitter, and increase the Scatter a bit. Vary the Spacing and the brush size, then press F7.

9. Make the out-of-bounds effect

Place some autumnal leaves again on top of the layer stack. Keep the image large and create a layer mask. Fill with black. Set the Foreground colour to white and using the custom brush you’ve created, start painting over the mask to reveal the leaves rolling out of the mirror.

10. Add another mirror

Unhide the 3D mirror layer. Press V and use the controllers to rotate the mirror 45o around the Y axis. Repeat steps 5 and 6. First duplicate the layer and mask the frame, then go to File>Place and add a wintery background. Clip the layer and drag the mask.

11. Enhance the tones

Place a wintery subject. Resize it, drag over the mirror and clip the layers (Cmd/Ctrl+Opt/Alt+G). Press Cmd/Ctrl+U and adjust the Saturation to -30. Press Cmd/Ctrl+B, adjust the Colour Levels to -15, 0, +20, then press OK.

12. Let it snow

Create a new layer, name it Snowfall and fill with black. Go to Filter>Pixelate>Mezzotint. Set Type to Coarse Dots and hit OK. Apply the Gaussian Blur filter at 2.5 pixels. Set the blend mode to Screen. Press Cmd/ Ctrl+L and adjust the inputs to control the intensity of the effect.

13. Complete the effect

Hold Opt/Alt then click and drag the mask from the Winter layer onto the Snowfall layer. Place a snowy mound over the mirror and create a layer mask. Fill it with black. Set the Foreground colour to white. Grab the Snow brush, alter the Shape Dynamics and paint over the mask.

14. Repeat the steps

Repeat the techniques you’ve learnt in the previous steps and add another mirror. Create a mask for the frame. Place a spring background and a spring subject, adjust the size and clip the layers. Place a flowery field. Grab a custom flower brush, adjust the tip shape and paint the mask.

15. Make it summer

Create the final mirror. Rotate the 3D mirror, then rasterize it. Place the a summery subject and background images. Repeat the steps again to complete the composition. Use Levels to adjust the tones, then add a layer mask to spread out sand over the ground.

16. Bring in more images

Enhance the composition by placing more images over the canvas. Place the butterflies around the spring mirror, and the skis and pinecone around the winter mirror. Add a bucket for summer fun. Now place the main subject with her back to the viewer, resize it and use the Layer Style window to add a subtle shadow.

17. Create a snapshot

Click on the top layer and press Shift+Cmd/Ctrl+Opt/Alt+E to create a snapshot. Right-click on the layer and choose Convert to Smart Object. Go to Filter>Camera Raw Filter. Adjust the settings to enhance the colours, making the image more vivid.