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Window Reflections
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Window Reflections
Created by: Joe Apice

It can be said that a natural reflection is one that contains an image of itself in itself. Natural reflections occur when a landscape or sky are near a lake or a pool of water. When the same reflections are framed in a mirror or a window, they identify not only the land masses or skies but the culture and time period of the reflection they represent. Reflections can transform an otherwise dull image into one bursting with life and color, and creating them is easy and it's fun. All you need is a vivid imagination and an image editor such as Paint Shop Pro. In this tutorial we will discuss how to use some of PSP's basic tools to make this type of image creation possible.
Download File  Download File
To follow this tutorial you'll need the two photos that I used here; they're provided with the download file on the left.

The Raw Image

Open the file "/tutorial/html/tut8eff/Window.jpg" from your download and duplicate it with Window || Duplicate (Shift+D) to preserve the original photo.

This image was taken facing directly into the window. If you look hard you can see the silhouette of the person taking the shot. As it stands, this image is dull and probably qualifies for the garbage heap, but it will make the perfect subject for our tutorial and when we're done we just might want to keep it.


Duplicate Layer

Creating a Duplicate Layer

The first thing we want to do is to create a duplicate layer from the background. The background layer and the duplicate layer will be used to sandwich the reflection and float it so that it can be positioned whereever we want inside the window. To make a duplicate layer, go to the Layer palette, right-click on the 'Background' layer and then when the pop-up menu appears select "Duplicate". PSP will create a duplicate layer of the background.


Renaming the Layer

Let's rename the layer which is the copy of the background. Place the mouse pointer on the layer named 'Copy of Background' and right-click. When the pop-up menu appears, select "Rename" and give the layer a new name. Let's call it 'Window'.


Freehand Selection Tool

Selecting the Window Panes

To make a selection of the window panes click on the Freehand (Lasso) tool on the Tools toolbar. Set the values as follows:
– Selection type = Point to point
– Mode = Replace
– Feather = 0
– Smoothing = 2
– Anti-alias = checked

To begin the selection, place the cursor at the top left hand corner of the top leftmost pane. Click the left mouse button once and drag the cursor to the top right corner of this pane. Click the left mouse button again (once only) and drag the cursor to the bottom right corner of the pane. Continue the process until you reach the point of origin. Then either double-click or right-click to complete the pane selection.


To complete the window selection we need to select the remaining panes. In PSP 7 we did this by pressing and holding the Shift key. In PSP 8, the process just got easier. To add to your selection click the drop-down arrow in the Mode box of the Tool Options palette and select "Add (Shift)". Then repeat the steps outlined above, until all 12 panes are selected.

When making critical selections set your tool preferences to use the Precise Cursor instead of the Brush Outline Cursor. The Precise Cursor will enable you to select the corners of the window panes more accurately without having to adjust the selection later. You can change the cursor type by going to File || Preferences || General Program Preferences. Select the tab labeled "Display and Caching" and then check the box labeled "Use Precise Cursors".

New Image     Copy

Copying the Reflection Image

We can now copy the image that we want to use as the reflection into our work area. First open the image you want to copy; for this tutorial open "/tutorial/html/tut8eff/SunsetSky.jpg" from your download. Then go to Edit || Copy (Ctrl+C) to place a copy of the image in memory. Then click on the window image and go to Edit || Paste || Paste As New Layer (Ctrl+L) to copy the reflection image into the window work area. The reflection image will be placed in the center of the window image and become the topmost layer, 'Layer 2'.

Notice that the selection lines will remain displayed in the foreground even though the window layer is now below the reflection layer.


Positioning the Layers

At this point, the reflection layer, 'Layer 2', is the active layer. To move the reflection layer one position down in the layer stack go to Layers || Arrange || Move Down on the menu bar. The reflection layer will be positioned between the 'Window' layer and the 'Background' layer.

Now click on the 'Window' layer in your Layer palette to make it the active layer, and then press the Delete key to delete the contents inside the selection and display the reflection layer through the window as shown on the left.

Move Tool

Moving the Reflection Inside the Window

With the selection lines still showing, click on the Move tool on the Tools toolbar or press the letter 'M' on the keyboard. Place the Move tool cursor anywhere on the reflection layer. Click and hold the left mouse button and move the reflection layer around until you have the desired effect.

Once you are satisfied with the location, deselect with Selections || Select None (Ctrl+D), then reduce the opacity of the reflection layer to 75%. This will give the reflection a touch of realism, because the window is not a perfect mirror.


Creating the Sunset Lighting

Because our reflection is of a sunset, the lighting from the sky would also produce a color cast on the house. To simulate this effect we use the Auto Color Balance feature.

First, click on your 'Window' layer in the Layer palette to make it the active layer. On the Photo toolbar (if it isn't opened yet go to View || Toolbars || Photo), go to Enhance Photo || Automatic Color Balance. In the dialog window, move the 'Color Temperature' slider to the left until it reads "2500" (Strength = 50, Remove color cast = unchecked). This value will produce a very warm orange tint on the entire image to simulate a color cast typical of sunset.


Paying Attention to Detail

The lamp near the window adds a nice accent. To add a very pleasing effect we would like to turn on the lamp. This effect is easily produced with the Sunburst light feature in PSP. On the menu bar, go to Effects || Illumination Effects || Sunburst. In the dialog window, position the crosshairs in the left preview window near the bulb and set the 'Light Spot Brightness' to 20. The values in the 'Rays' and 'Circle' section should be 0, the color white.


Freehand Selection Tool

Light Dispersion from the Lamp

The light emitted from the lamp would normally be reflected and dispersed forward, along the sides and through the opening at the bottom of the lamp. This dispersion effect can be created by making three selections using the Freehand (Lasso) tool in Freehand mode.

Make the first selection on the left side of the lamp as shown on the left. Then on the Tool Options palette set the mode to Add (Shift) and repeat the selection on the right side of the lamp and finally on the bottom.

Next go to Selections || Modify || Feather on the menu bar and set the 'Feather' value to 20.


Casting the Light

With the selections feathered, go to Adjust || Brightness and Contrast || Curves on the menu bar. When the Curves dialog box opens, first click in the middle of the red curve in the Input/Output diagram to add a new node, then set the 'Input' value to 117 and the 'Output' value to 136 as shown on the left. These settings will lighten the area inside the selection. The feathering that was applied in the previous step will smooth the light transition.

Now deselect with Selections || Select None (Ctrl+D) and save your work.



When creating reflections, try to keep the light balanced between the window and the reflection image. Do not mix a brightly lit window with a night scene and vice versa. Pay attention to details such as lights and other objects in the scene and add the proper color cast for the time of day. Remember that as the day progresses, light changes from cool in the morning sun, to warm in the afternoon sun and back to cool again at night.