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6 Rules for Realistic Reflections in Photoshop

Rule #4 – Items pointing toward you have smaller reflections than you think.

Photoshop Reflection Bloopers
On page 3, we saw a laptop whose keyboard is coming toward us. Here’s another one, from a slideshow at Photoshop World of all places.

We do we see the keys in the reflection?
We do we see the keys in the reflection?

Okay, here’s how to think about this one. The front edge of the keyboard is facing us straight on. Therefore we would see that edge reflected. However, the keys themselves are on a surface that is facing up. We would never see these keys in the reflection, if the laptop is laying flat as it appears to be. But wait! It’s back end appears to be floating too. Don’t let it float away!


Reflection Reality
Below is a photo I took of my own laptop.

Photo of a laptop
Photo of a laptop

What we see in the reflection is the front edge of the keyboard, a bit of its underside as it curves away from us, and a tiny bit of the monitor’s top edge. Notice the perspective lines going down too.


Reflection Realism in Photoshop
For objects that come toward you or go away from you, study them well. Get a shinny surface and lay the object on top of it. What does the reflection do? Now, create that in Photoshop the best you can.


Next: Rule #5 – Cars don’t float. And they have underneathy-bits.

11 replies on “6 Rules for Realistic Reflections in Photoshop”

Know what?!i don’t have formal training in PS..but because of you..i took up all your tutorials….it’s good…like to thank you ma’am…still got lot to learn though

Great article, I was having a heck of a time finding info/tutorials on photoshop reflections. I found quite a few botched reflections on check out the icons on their category pages, computers for example, some of the reflections look right but a lot are botched.. It looks like they just had so many to do they just rushed their way through.

Lmfao, its sad to see that laws of reflection are not followed while making the reflections. Designers, editors need to learn some physics.

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