What tips do you have on quickly painting reflections?
Wade Gallagher, US
Copy Merged is my number one Photoshop tool for painting reflections. When producing concept art it’s great for several reasons, the main one being it’s quick and accurate. The idea behind Copy Merged is that you copy a part of your painting, mirror it vertically and then erase parts of it.
So knowing that, it’s important that you first focus on the part of your image that doesn’t contain any reflections. A scene with bright lights works best for this, because the reflection will give an extra boost to it. In this case I paint a bright, neon-lit street with lots of orange, red and pink lights. To make the reflection a bit more logical and convincing I also paint in a hint of rain. Once I feel the scene is done, I select the left part of the image first, hit Ctrl+ Shift+ C to Copy Merge, then press Ctrl+V and mirror the new layer vertically to put it right below the line of buildings.
Keep in mind that even reflections follow the rules of perspective, so use the Distort tool to push the layer towards the vanishing point. The reason for selecting the left side first is that the right side will have to be distorted in the opposite way. So repeat the same process for the right side. Finally, erase little parts of it to make the reflection more random.
Concept artists regularly use the Copy Merge function to quickly paint reflections when they want to imply wet surfaces.
It’s best to leave the reflective surfaces until the end – you’ll need the values and colours from the rest of the scene to copy into them.