Adding Water and Reflection to your Image in Photoshop Blog Post

How to Create a Water Reflection in Photoshop

In this tutorial, I am going to show you the steps to add water and a water reflection to your photos using Photoshop. The goal is to take the an image photographed in an open field, and make it look like it was taken on the edge of a lake or pond.

photo of a young boy squating in a field of wild grasses

To begin, open your image up in Photoshop. I'm using CS6, however this technique should work similarly for most versions.

Once opened, go to Image<Canvas Size. Then change the height of your image to 200 percent (not cm). Then click on the middle arrow on the top row to push the image up and give us more room on the bottom for the reflection.

Creating water reflection in Photoshop

Now you will be left with an extended white area to work with below the image.

How to make reflection in Photoshop

Creating the Water Reflection

Now we are going to work on our reflection. To do this, duplicate that layer, and title it “reflection”.

Then go to Edit<Transform<Flip Vertical. Grab the move tool and pull the flipped image down to the bottom of the white canvas area.

Make the Reflection Look More Like Water

The reflection is now clearly visible, however, we need to make it look more like water by adding some blur. To do this, go to Filter<Blur<Motion Blur.

Adding blur to reflection in Photoshop

Set the angle to somewhere around 90% and the distance to around 30 Pixels and hit OK.

child kneeling in a field with reflection added in Photoshop

Now we are going to select the Smudge Tool, with our size set around 150, Hardness to 0, and strength around 15-20%.

Just smudge around parts of the reflection to distort it a tad, so the reflection isn't identical. This will give it a more realistic look.

If you notice a white line running the center where the two parts of the image meets, like in mine image above, don't worry. We will correct that shortly.

Make the Water Look More Realistic

To make the water look even more realistic, we are going to add some ripples. To do this, open a new layer and fill it with white. Go to Filter<Noise<Add Noise. Set to 400%. Also set to Gaussian and Monocromatic.

Now go to Filter<Blur<Motion Blur. Set to 0 degrees and 40 pixels. Click OK.

Hit CTRL+L to adjust contrast. Set Blacks to around 155, Midtones to around 1.50, and White to around 220.

It should look something like this.

Adding water ripples in Photoshop

Adjust the Perspective

Now we are going to add even more realism by tweaking the Perspective a bit. Go to Edit<Transform<Perspective. Grab one of the bottom corner and drag out a bit. Then go to one of the top corners and pull inward some.

Slightly adjusting an image perspective in Photoshop

Add More Blur

Now we are going to add more blur. Go to Filter<Blur<Gaussian Blur. Set to 3 pixels. Hit OK. Now go to layers panel and set the layer to “soft light”, with opacity around 27%.

You should end up with something like this. 

Adding Reflective Water in Photoshop

Duplicate that layer. Now you will need to select Ctrl+I to invert the colors. Then set the blend mode to Overlay, and set opacity to around 20%. Make sure that these two layers are BETWEEN the original and the one we titled "reflection".

Now I'm going to flatten my image, and use my “spot healing brush” from the tool bar to remove the white line running through the center. 

And there you have it! We took this little guy from an open grassy field right to the edge of a lake or pond! What do you think?

The Final Result!

young boy looking at his reflection in a pond

Do you have any questions or comments about adding water and a reflection to your image in Photoshop? Leave us a comment below - we would love to hear from you! And please share our tutorial using the social sharing buttons (we really appreciate it)!