How to Make Water Reflection in Photoshop?

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January 25, 2021

In this tutorial, we will create a realistic water reflection in Photoshop. You should be able to replicate water reflection in Photoshop on other pictures using the techniques presented here. Here, you will learn how to add water reflection in Photoshop to any photo quickly. It is very easy to craft water reflection in Photoshop. You can add it to any picture you like, although it tends to work best with images that don’t already have water in them.

You will be using a simple filter and a dislocation map to create the water ripple outcome, and a Hue or Saturation adjustment layer to offer the water a little color. Well, now let’s get down and find the way to make water reflection in Photoshop.

Techniques to Make Water Reflection in Photoshop

This water effect Photoshop tutorial uses some relatively advanced systems to create the water reflection Photoshop.  However, the detailed justifications at each step should make it trouble-free for beginners to catch on. Some testing may be needed to achieve the correct perspective and amount of reflected picture, but by following these steps, you can create water reflection in Photoshop. It can be seen completely from scratch and transform this image’s area of lawn into the water.

What needed to Make Water Reflection in Photoshop?

You need a good-quality photo with the intention of producing a photorealistic water reflection in Photoshop. If you happen to have a previously made displacement map that can adjust to the needs of a Photoshop water effect it would be ideal since it can save you many steps, if not you are going to learn how to make it through this water reflection in Photoshop tutorial.

Select the picture you want to work with and load it in Photoshop. If the image is way too large, it would be best if you reduce the size of it.

Step 1

Open the image in Photoshop to create the water reflection in Photoshop. If the image is quite big, you need to reduce the size a bit. You have to press Ctrl + Alt + I to open the Image Size window. Then use the minimal settings for water reflection in Photoshop.

Step 2

You have to select the Crop Tool and drag the upper and lower handles.  It will allow you to remove the author’s trademark and the extra pixels at the top left and right margins.

Step 3

You have to duplicate the background layer. You can do it by pressing Ctrl + J. Now make a Name for this layer “Reflection”. After you will get a perfect Photoshop water reflection in the image.

Step 4

Now you need to increase the canvas size (we have to set the pictures of water somewhere). Now, Press Ctrl + Alt + C. It will help you to open the Canvas Size window. Then choose the settings according to your need. Now select the “Reflection” layer so as to make it active. Then you need to press Ctrl + Lastly, Press “Enter” after you are done in this step.

Step 5

Here you need to select the Move Tool (V) and with the “Reflection” layer still clicked click and try to drag down while holding Shift to move the layer down as to set the image according to your need. This could previously be considered a Photoshop water reflection, but it looks quite not realistic. People will notice that the water is a way to still and there are no ripples. We will fix these issues in the following steps of the water reflection in Photoshop.

Step 6

Now you need to create a few ripples. To get a few ripples you will need a particular texture resembling ripples which you can apply on the reflection layer. You have to start working on the texture by making a new document (Ctrl + N), 4000 x 4000. Now you have to add some Noise.  Select Filter > Noise > Add Noise and use the correct settings according to your need. You need a coarser grain to get ripples. You need to use a trick that consists of blurring the noise layer. Afterward, You have to increase the contrast. Then apply a 5px Gaussian blur (click, Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur).

Water Reflection in Photoshop

Now select Image > Adjustments > Curves and try to drag the sliders on the left and right to the spikes. Now, select Filter > Filter Gallery, and from the Sketch, folder pick the Bass Relief filter. You have to Use a value of 2 for Detail and 2 for Smoothness. You can see now how this texture starts to look similar to ripples. However, be patient, you are not done yet. You have to apply a 35px Motion Blur (Filter > Blur > Motion Blur) to make it smoother, more lengthened waves.

Step 7

You have to match the texture of the ripples to the reflection layer. To get that you will have to move the texture over to the original document momentarily. While in the surface document selects all and copies. Select the original text and then press Ctrl + V to paste. Now try to transform the texture of the ripples to reach the same perspective as in the primary report.  Then Press Ctrl + T to enter Free Transform. You have to decrease the height of the texture. It can fit the bottom half of the picture.

You need to Right-click within the transformation border and select Perspective. Then, Drag the top handles in, and the base handles out to achieve an outstanding change. You have to be careful about the upper bounds of the texture layer. It does not need to surpass the upper limits of the “Reflection” layer. For an easier arrangement make sure you contain Snap active (View > Snap). Lastly, Press Enter after you are done.

Step 8

Click on the texture layer in the Layers palette. You just transformed before the step to make sure it is active. Now click Ctrl- on the “Reflection” layer to make a selection of its pixels. Then, press Ctrl + J to copy the selection (while on the texture layer). Make a Name of this new layer of “Texture” and delete the preceding layer (Layer1). To make sure that you followed the steps appropriately Ctrl-click on the “Reflection” layer and then click Ctrl- on the Texture layer. The marked area should stay the same. If it is bigger, then you have made a mistake and should redo these steps. Now you have to Right-click on the “Texture” layer in the layer palette to choose Duplicate Layer. Then, set the target as a new document. Give it a suitable name and press Ok now.

Step 9

Did you notice that there is a transparent area in the higher part of the texture? You need to throw away that. To do so, you will choose Image > Trim. Pick Transparent Pixels and press OK. Now, you have to Save the texture with Ctrl + S somewhere on your computer.

Step 10

 You need to close the texture document with Ctrl + W. Then go back to the original text. Now, turn off the visibility of the “Texture” layer by selecting the little eyeball symbol on the left of its thumbnail.

Step 11

In this step of the process, you will make some modifications to water reflection in Photoshop. Now, Right-click on the “Reflection” layer and select Convert to Smart Object. You have to click Filter > Filter Gallery with this selected “Reflection” layer. Then Select the Glass filter (in the Distort folder). Did you notice that next to the name of the texture there is a little icon? Select that icon and press “Load Texture”. Pick the texture you saved before (the texture from step 9).

Water Reflection in Photoshop

Choose a superior Distort value if you desire an extra pronounced effect. For delicacy select a lower value (6 to 7). The excellent thing about Smart Objects is that you can modify the settings of your filters at any time.

Step 12

Water has an active reflective quality, and the reflection lacks this quality. Keep in mind that, the “Texture” layer we turned off? Set its visibility on once more by selecting the eye icon (more precisely where the eye symbol used to be). Now, vary its blending mode to Soft Light and lower the Opacity to 18% and observe how the “Reflection” layer has achieved that reflective value.

Step 13

The water has the color or tint of the sky. Let us do this in the image. Click the Brush Tool (B) and click Alt- somewhere on the blue of the sky to have a sample color. Make a new layer (Ctrl + Shift + Alt + N) and try to fill the layer with the foreground color (Alt + Backspace). Give a Name of this layer like “Color”.

Now, Move the “Color” layer just under the “Texture” layer. Then clip the “Color” layer with the “Reflection” layer by pressing the Alt key and clicking right in among both layers in the layer’s palette. Press D to reset to default colors. Press X to switch between them. Now insert a layer mask to the “Color” layer. Pick the Gradient Tool (G) and select Foreground to Background.

Step 14

Click on the layer mask with the Gradient Tool and hold the Shift key to drag the image downwards. This action will ensure that color will not be noticeable in the upper portion of the image. It will slowly become more prominent in the lower portions. You have to keep the Opacity of the “Color” Lower-like layer to almost 12%.

Step 15

You are almost done here! Now let’s do something to recover the look of the overall picture. You just need A bit of color correction. It would be just what this picture needs., Create the latest Curves Adjustment layer (click Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Curves) to do so.

Step 16

If you want to boost the contrast add a Black & White Adjustment layer. You can make it by selecting Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Black & White. Modify the Blending Mode of this layer to Soft Light. Then make a lower the opacity to 46%. That is the finishing process of the basics of Photoshop water effect.

Step 17

We are almost at the finish line of the Photoshop water reflection. The image looks too balanced because we have flipped upright the original layer. Also, there are some ugly pixel relics in the lower part of the picture (we created those when we applied the Glass filter to the Water effect in Photoshop). To omit both of these issues you need to crop the image and throw away some of the lower parts.

Step 18

Finally, you have to add a Vignette effect to make a perfect water reflection in Photoshop. Create the latest layer by pressing Ctrl + Shift + Alt + N. Now fill it with white (with white as center color press Alt + Backspace). You need to Choose Filter > Lens Correction and drag the Vignette Amount slider to the left. Press OK and modify the blending mode of the layer to Multiply. Keep It lower with Opacity from 12% to 7%.


Creating water reflection in Photoshop is one of those things that at first glance look hard.  Once you break down the steps, it is not hard. In this article, we have tried to expose creating a water reflection in Photoshop. This method works mainly well on images with wide pavement and HDR progression pictures. It also tends to create the pavement to look wet previously. Keep in mind that the systems and settings presented here are just a method to get water reflection in Photoshop.

These are not supernatural settings for making water reflection in Photoshop. You should research with images of your own and discover what works best to create water reflection in Photoshop. It is simple to get disturbed or hurt feelings when someone else says unenthusiastically about one of your images. Well from our opinion is that it is just the opinion of one person. You do not have to agree with them. Our Life is too short to care about pleasing other people.


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