Today you can learn photo to water reflections from scratch. Open a photo you’d like to use for this project
How to Make Water Refections in Photoshop
The first step is to check the resolution of your image. Go to image and image size to ensure that your results will look similar to mine make its resolution 150px per inch then click OK or press Enter or return
We’ll convert our photo into a smart object so we can modify it non-destructively to do this click the icon at the upper right of the layers panel and click convert to smart object go to image and canvas size click the top middle arrow this will keep our photo flush with the top of their document change the measurement to percent and in the height field type in 200 then change the measurement back to pixels
Note that your photos width and height will most likely be different than mine Jot down the amounts you see in yours. We’ll be referring to them later.
Notice our document is now twice as high as the photo. we’ll make a copy of it by pressing ctrl or command J go to view and make sure Snap is checked if it isn’t just click it press ctrl or command-T to open your transform tool go to the top middle of the transform and when you see a vertical double-arrow drag it straight down until it snaps to the bottom of your document.
It will snap in place because we have to snap checked. Then press Enter or return.
Drag the top layer below the other layer name it “reflection” and then the top layer “photo” make the reflection layer active and go to the filter blur and motion blur make the angle 90 degrees and the distance 10 pixels then click OK or press Enter or return
Click the eyeball icon next to the reflection to hide the layer. We’re going to make a new layer below it. Ctrl-click or command click the new layer icon.
Name the new layer “water” We’ll fill it with a muted blue color press shift + the f5 key at the top of your keyboard to open the fill window. Open the fly-out list and click color pick a mute blue.
If you’d like to use this color, it’s hexadecimal numbers and letters are 296FB7. Then press Enter or return twice to accept and close both windows.
Make the reflection layer visible again. We want to make the reflection have no blur on the bottom and gradually become blurry as it gets closer to the shore.
To do this click the motion blur layer mask to make it active and open your gradient tool. Make sure your linear gradient is active. Open the gradient thumbnails and click the black to transparent thumbnail.
Go to the bottom of your image and press and hold shift as you drag the gradient tool straight up to the top of the reflection. Then release.
Pressing shift kept the tool perfectly vertical as you drag it up next we’ll reveal the blue color as a gradually disappears as it gets closer to the top of the reflection.
Make the reflection layer active and click the layer mask icon to make a layer mask next to it.
Once again drag the gradient tool from the bottom to the top of the reflection.
shift click the thumbnail of the water layer to make it active as well and convert the two active layers into one smart object.
We’re ready to make this map which will create ripples and reflection distortions on the water. Go to file and new make the width height and resolution the same as the amounts you jotted down earlier then click OK or press Enter or return
We want the four and colors to be black and white respectively either press D on your keyboard or click this icon go to filter noise and add noise make the amount 400 percent gaussian and monochromatic.
Go back to filter blur and Gaussian blur makes the radius 2 pixels. Open your channels panel if you don’t see it go to window and channels click the thumbnail of the red channel to make it active.
Go to filter stylize and embossed. Make the angle 90 degrees the height 1 pixel and the amount 500 percent click the thumbnail of the green channel to make it active.
Go back to filter stylize and emboss change the angle to 180 degrees click the thumbnail of the RGB channel to make all the channels active and open back your layers panel.
We’re going to wrap our image and need a lot of room to do it. Open your navigator panel if you don’t see it go to window and navigator.
Drag the slider to the left to zoom out until your image is approximately this size. Click the lock icon to unlock the layer unlocking the layer allows us to transform it. Go to edit transform and perspective.
Go to a bottom corner of the transform and drag it out approximately this much.
I drag the bottom out 1500 percent to accept it press Enter or return open your transform tool again and this time go to the top middle anchor point and drag it down until it snaps to the center then press Enter or return.
To fit it back onto your canvas press ctrl or command 0 go to file and say this save it to your desktop and name it displacement map save it as a PSD file and then click Save if you see this message just click OK
Open back your reflection image the filter distort and displace make the horizontal scale 30 and the vertical scale 60 tick stretch to fit and repeat edge pixels
Click the displacement map PSD file and click open instantly our water reflection took on natural-looking ripples and reflection distortions made from the displacement map we created.
To hide unwanted areas of the distortion along the shoreline open your transform tool if you see this message it’s just telling us that the displacement effect will be temporarily turned off as we use the transform tool just click OK
Go to the top middle anchor point and drag it up a little then press Enter or return. notice the unwanted areas along the shoreline are now hidden.
To fill in this slightly transparent ripples that you may see at the bottom of your image press ctrl or command J to make a copy of the layer. Lastly, we’ll add a little depth along the shoreline.
Make the top layer active and click the new layer icon to make a new layer above it. Open your rectangular marquee tool and drag a selection to the other side approximately this wide centered from the shoreline.
Go to select modify and feather feathered 20 pixels and press Enter or return.
We’ll fill with black and since black and since black is our foreground color press alt or option + delete then deselect it by pressing ctrl or command D
Change its blend mode to soft light and reduce its opacity to 80 percent If you have any problem comment below. Video tutorial below