Photoshop Tutorial: How to Create Realistic, Outside Window Reflections

Photoshop Tutorial: How to Create Realistic, Outside Window Reflections

August 15, 2019 46 By Peter Engel


Hi. This is Marty from Blue Lightning TV.
I’m going to show you how to realistically create an outside reflection on a window and
show someone on the inside through the glass. I provided this window frame for
you to download, as well as this sunset image that we’ll use as the reflection. The links
to these images are located in my video’s description or project files. Open a photo
of a subject you’d like to see through the window. I downloaded this one from Shutterstock.com.
The first step is to open the window frame image and press “z” on your keyboard to open
your Zoom Tool. Drag it over one of the window panes to zoom into it. Open your Pen Tool
and choose “Path”. If you’re working on version CS5 or earlier, the Path icon is here. Click
on a corner of the glass and release. Go to the next corner of the glass and click to
make a path connecting both corners. Release and click on the next corner. Continue until
you click on the first corner to close the path. I did an in-depth tutorial on how to
create complex paths with the Pen Tool, so if you’d like to watch it, I provided that
link, as well. To move the image over to see your next window pane, press the hold the
Space bar as you drag your image over. Repeat the same steps to make a path over the glass pane. Once you’ve drawn paths over all the panes, open your Paths panel. If you don’t
see it, go to Window and Paths. Ctrl-click or Cmd -click on the thumbnail to make a selection
of the paths. To fit your entire document back on your canvas, press Ctrl or Cmd + 0.
To ensure that the selections are completely covering the glass panes, we’ll slightly expand the selections. But first, open back your Layers panel. Go to Select, Modify and Expand. Expand it by 1 pixel. Go back to Select, Modify and Feather. Feather it 1 pixel. Invert the
selection by pressing Ctrl or Cmd + Shift + I and then press Ctrl or Cmd + J to cut
window frame from the glass panes. Hide the background and open the sunset image I provided or you can open your own image for the reflection. Let’s convert it into a Smart Object, so we
can modify it non-destructively. To move it onto the window frame document, press “v”
to open your Move Tool and drag it onto the tab of the window frame. Without releasing your mouse or pen, drag it down onto the image and release. In the Layers panel, drag the it below the window frame. Outside reflections on windows tend to be distorted, so open your
Transform Tool by pressing Ctrl or Cmd + T. To see the Transform’s entire bounding box,
press Ctrl or Cmd + 0. Let’s zoom out a bit more by pressing Ctrl or Cmd and the minus
key on your keyboard. Go to a bottom corner and press and hold Ctrl + Alt + Shift on Windows
or Cmd + Option + Shift on a Mac as you drag the corner outward. To reposition it, just
go inside the Transform and drag it. To reduce or enlarge it, go to a corner and when you
see a diagonal, double-arrow, press and hold Alt or Option + Shift as you drag in in or out. To skew it, go to the middle point on one of the sides and press and hold Ctrl or Cmd as you drag it up. When you’re happy with its size, position and distortion, press Enter or Return. Then, fit it back onto your canvas. Window reflections are often blurred when
photographed due to the particular focal length of the camera’s lens, so go to Filter, Blur
and Gaussian Blur. For the size and resolution of this document, I’ll make the Blur Radius:
3 pixels. Once we add the person through the glass panes, we want to see on the person,
the darker areas of the window’s reflection. To do this, make a copy of the reflection
by pressing Ctrl or Cmd + J. To hide all the other layers except the reflection copy, Alt-click
or Option-click on the eyeball icon next to the reflection copy. Go to Select and Color
Range. Select “Shadows”. Make the Range: 0 and the Fuzziness between 50% to 60%. Then, click OK. Click the Layer Mask icon to make a layer mask of the selection, next to the reflection copy. Change its Blend Mode to “Luminosity” and reduce its opacity to 40%.
Hide the Reflection copy and make the original reflection layer visible, as well as the top
window frame layer. Open the photo of the person you’d like to place behind the window.
Convert it to a Smart Object, so we can modify it non-destructively. To automatically adjust
its brightness and contrast, press Ctrl or Cmd + Shift + L to invoke Autotone. Next,
we’ll separate the person form the background by making a selection around the person. There
are many ways to make selections and your choice should depend on the characteristics
of your photo. For this example, I’ll use the Quick Selection Tool with a Radius of
10 pixels. If you’re using this tool as well, it’s radius amount should depend on your photo’s size and resolution. Drag the tool over your subject to select it and click the Refine
Edge button or go to Select and Refine Edge. I did an in-depth tutorial on Refine Edge,
so if you’d like to watch it, I provided that link, as well. Check “Smart Radius” and slide
the Radius a bit to the right. If the hair on your subject is very wispy, brush over
the edge of the hair. In this case, the hair is short, so it’s not necessary to brush over it.. Check “Decontaminate Colors” and slide the amount to approximately 75%. Output it as a New Layer and click OK.
To move into window frame document, as before, press “v” to open your Move Tool and drag
it onto the tab of the window frame. Without releasing your mouse or pen, drag it down
onto the image and then, release. Open your Transform Tool to resize and reposition it.
Fit the Transform onto your canvas to resize it. When you’re happy with its size and position,
press Enter or Return and then, fit it it back onto your canvas. Reduce its opacity
to 95% to slightly see the reflection on the person. Click the Layer Mask icon to make
a layer mask next to your subject. Click the Adjustment Layer icon and click “Brightness/Contrast”.
To restrict the adjustment layer to effect only your subject, click the Clipping Mask
icon or press Ctrl + Alt + G on Windows or Cmd + Option + G on a Mac. Slide the Contrast
to approximate the contrast of the rest of your image. To adjust its brightness, slide
the Brightness to the left or right. To give the person a color cast that’s similar to
the color of the reflection, click the Adjustment layer icon again and click “Photo Filter”.
If you’re working on an version of Photoshop that doesn’t have this filter, you can use
“Color Balance”. Click the Clipping Mask icon to clip it to your subject and click on each
of the filters until you’ve found one that blends your subject into the background. For
this example, I’ll click “Orange” and increase its Density to 50%. Next, we’ll make the areas
of your subject fade into the background. Click the layer mask next to your subject,
to make it active. Open your Brush Tool and Brush Picker. We’ll adjust the size in a moment.
Make sure the Hardness is 0%. Then, press Enter or Return. To make your Brush bigger
or smaller, press the the right or left bracket keys on your keyboard. Brush over areas of
your subject that are further away from the glass. The further they are, the more transparent
they should look. If you want to restore back opacity, press “x” on your keyboard and brush
over those areas. Press “v” to open your Move Tool, so it’ll be easier to navigate your
cursor over your document. Let’s slide the Layers panel down, so we can see all the Layers. Make your top reflection layer visible and drag it between the adjustment layers and the window frame. I’d like to slide down the reflection, so the dark areas on the bottom don’t cover his face. If you want to reposition your
reflection, drag the top reflection back down over the other one and Shift-click on the
bottom reflection to make it active, as well. Either use your Move Tool to drag it to a
new position or, as in this example, I’ll just press the Down arrow on my keyboard.
Click the top reflection to make it active and drag it back up just below the window
frame. I’d like to increase the transparencies of the dark reflection on the subject’s arms
as well as the subject himself. To do this, I’ll decrease the opacity of the top reflection to 30%, make the subject active and decrease its opacity to 80%. This is Marty from Blue
Lightning TV. Thanks for watching!