How To Create The Mirror Image In Photoshop.

1 -X1109C-0029HM mirror arch paper copy

How To Create The Mirror Image In Photoshop.

I get a lot of mileage from this simple technique. I often make the mirror image with two different but complimentary images. For example I will have a woman arching nude over the back of our bike while the reflection will have her dressed. I photographed a family with two young kids laying on their stomachs on my mylar. My clients had fun with their wall print because it took awhile for people to notice the reflection was not identical to the upright image.

Here are the steps to make great mirror images.

It is important to find two images that will work together or even one image that is suitable. You are looking for an image where the contact points, where the mirror images would touch, are in alignment. So, if it’s one image you are going to mirror you will want the subject’s contact points to be in line with each other. If they are close but not a match there is some tweaks you can do to create the mirror match. It’s just easier if they match.

It is usually more effective if the background of the two images match. White or plain backgrounds are the easiest. They are also the least distracting. It helps to have your images about the same size with similar lighting approaches. A lighting mismatch is visually unsettling unless there is a clever reason for it.

Once you have the two images open, be sure they are flattened, no layers, here is the process.

2 -X1109C-0029HM two images

Pick the image that will be your top image. Convert it to a layer by clicking on the layer to select it, hold the alt key down and click the layer again. The layer should lose the lock.

For our sample we will have a vertical mirror creation. Go to Image>Canvas Size. A window opens, at the bottom is a square with a dot in the center, move that to the top center square. In dimensions input change the height to double the measurement. I usually change it to pixels then double it.

With the move tool, drag the other image over while holding down the shift key; this will copy the mirror-to-be image in the center of the target image on a new layer. Change the opacity to about 50% so you can see the image below through it.

Command/crtl T to transform the layer, right click to bring up the transform menu. Drag the top layer over base layer. Hold your shift key down as you size the top image to match the lower subject size; this keeps the image ratio intact. Once you have the two subjects matched in size, press the right mouse button to bring up the transform menu, select flip vertical. Hit return to make the changes.

Drag the top active layer down until you can see the contact points matching. You may have to tweak it with arrow keys to get to a near perfect match.

Switch to your brush tool then create a layer mask for this layer. Put your foreground color to black then paint black on the mask on the areas of the active layer that overlaps the bottom image that are above the contact points.

Change your opacity back to 100%. Make sure you brush is set to softest edge then refine the transition edge on the mask so there is no sharp line. You may have to spend a little more time around the contact points, so both images are clean.

3 -X1109C-0029HM feet sample

For a bit more realism make the mirror image a little darker than the top image. You will likely need to crop the image to great rid of excess space and for compositional impact.

In this sample of Hali, her feet did not line up so I did a trick with her leg. Luckily the background was white making this approach a little easier. Using the marque tool, I selected her bottom image leg just below the knee. Command/Crtl J put the selection on a new layer. Held the Command/Crtl key down then clicked on the new layer icon to select the image portion. I went to Edit>content aware scale then dragged the top handle on the selection until the feet touched.

My final touch was to add the crumpled paper texture over both images with a multiply blending mode.

Creating mirrored images is just as stunning with still life or landscape work. It causes the viewer to do a double take, often creates some interesting shapes at the mirror line; it always sparks the interest of the viewer. It is a handy trick to have up your sleeve when you need an image to be just a little more outstanding than it is.


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