Monthly Archives: February 2015

Shiny Surfaces – Part 5 – More Reflections and A Bridge Too Far

Welcome back. If you like reflections, you’re going to love this post, as it discusses three reflective tutorials from How to Cheat in Photoshop, 6th ed., by Steve Caplin.

Glass: Reflection
Despite the title of this exercise, there didn’t seem to be any glass in the images Caplin provided.  Certainly the floor was shiny enough to be glass, but it looks to me more like highly polished marble.  At any rate, Caplin manages to take 4 disparate elements — sky,  floor, ornate picture frame, and businesswoman — and make them look a if they all work together.  At least he provides the instructions for doing so, anyway:

Glass reflections Both

Although either the Original and Completed montages could be used to enhance a business project on getting the big picture, the elements on the left don’t relate to each other.  By creating the reflections and moving the woman so she appears to be stepping through the frame, the whole image hangs together.

Creating the reflection of the sky on the floor was simple: Duplicate the sky layer, flip it vertically, reduce its opacity and change its Layer Mode to Hard Light.  Instant shiny floor without the laborious polishing!

The reflections of the frame and the woman were also flipped vertically and reduced in opacity. But, instead of Hard Light Mode, the layers were switched to Overlay. In addition, the frame’s reflection had to be sheared in perspective and a layer mask added – to both the original frame and the reflection – to make it look as if the woman is stepping through the frame instead of just walking next to it.

Once again, in this tutorial Caplin  goes above and beyond by giving his readers an art lesson along with a technical one.

Complex Reflections
This next tutorial I found extremely difficult to complete the first time I tried it, mostly because at the time I only had a mouse. As discussed in a previous post, I later acquired a graphics tablet drawing device. You an see the difference it makes, below:

Complex reflections Three Shearing the reflected camera layer and then moving the elements, such as the lens and lettering, wasn’t the challenging part.  The difficulty came with removing the highlights from the lens casing.  Even with the graphics tablet, it’s still a tricky business, but the result is much more convincing.

A Bridge Too Far
This tutorial was another former Friday Challenge.  The point of the tutorial was not the bridge itself, but the reflection on the water.  That said,  Caplin does have his readers build a very basic bridge even though he could have supplied it. That’s because many Photoshop users are uncomfortable with the Pen Tool, so Caplin used the bridge construction project as a Pen Tool practice exercise.   In any case, let’s focus on the water:

A bridge too far Both2

Typically, water images will already contain a reflection, such as in the Original. Simply duplicating the bridge, then flipping the copy and lowering its opacity of copied would allow the existing reflection to show through, but unconvincingly so.  To remedy this, Caplin has his readers make a new layer and use the bridge reflection as a Clipping Mask.  Then, some of the water texture is cloned over the mask.  Once the cloned water layer is reduced in both opacity and saturation, the resulting reflection is much more realistic, even if the bridge Caplin instructed his readers to create looks a bit artificial.

Next: Shiny Surfaces – Part 6 – A Brain, A Fish and A Vase

Shiny Surfaces – Part 4

In this post we’ll see yet more uses for one of Steve Caplin’s go-to filters, Plastic Wrap, and create a view through a glass bowl.

A Massive Block of Ice

Once again Steve Caplin uses a Friday Challenge as the basis for one of his Tutorials in How to Cheat in Photoshop, 6th ed.   This time he has his readers turn plain text into an ice sculpture:Massive block of ice_bOTHCaplin reported in his book that most people were able to make the lettering sufficiently icy looking. It is accomplished by duplicating the layers, offsetting them – to produce the effect of a 3D object – adding some shading and then the Plastic Wrap filter. The trick that most people didn’t get during the Challenge was making the background distort though the ice, giving it more realism.  That effect is added by using a displace filter, as shown in the result above.

Getting the Glazing Bug

After 5 tutorials using the Plastic Wrap filter, Caplin finally has his readers wrap something in plastic.  In this case a scarab beetle: Glazing bug BothThis plastic effect is very simple. First, start a new layer and fill it with 50% grey. Next, use the Dodge and Burn tools to create highlights and shadows around the insect. Add a few random highlights and shadows to make the wrinkles. Then, apply the Plastic Wrap filter and set the layer’s mode to highlight. Instant polythene!  To make the beetle really look as if it is behind glass, create a reflection. It’s always the little details that complete a scene.

Glass: RefractionGlass refractionBoth

Caplin must be a very observant person. Most people would understand that making the image of a glass bowl look realistic should include a background visible through it. However, most people wouldn’t know to add the distortion, which is the key to making a photomontage look real:First, Caplin walks readers through using the Spherize filter to create the refraction distortion. However, glass is reflective as well. So, to achieve that effect, readers simply adjust the sliders in the Blending Options panel until the highlights and a bit of the reflection are visible. These sliders are found under the Layer drop down menu, much like the techniques used in the two tutorials in Hiding and Showing: Blending 1 & 2. And that’s it – your opaque bowl is now all clear. The only other thing to add is a layer mask on the stem and with a low opacity brush, reveal a little of the background.

Next: Shiny Surfaces – Part 5 – More Reflections and A Bridge Too Far