Deke’s Techniques: Reflecting type in water with Photoshop

Published by | Tuesday, May 1st, 2012

In this week’s free Deke’s Techniques movie, Deke shows you how to make a text reflection appear in rippled water. You’ll start with this miraculously floating text set on top of a photo of gently moving water:

Text reflection step one: text on image of water.

Next, Deke shows you how to create a base reflection by turning the text layer into a Smart Object, copying it, then using the Free Transform command to stretch the copy out and invert it. Then the real magic of this technique happens when Deke shows you how to create a displacement map from the water’s ripples, and how that map can be applied to the reflected letters. In order to ensure that the effect edges are smooth and believable, and that the letters get aligned correctly with the feet of the original text, you’ll need to pay close attention to the fairly sophisticated way Deke goes about building the displacement map in the free video. The end result is this study in serenity:

Photoshop text reflected in water.

For a real study in relaxed reflection, this week’s member-exclusive Deke’s Techniques movie, Reflecting water back into type, shows you how to represent the waves of the reflected letters inside their original source letters. Yes, it’s a reflection of a reflection:

Photoshop type with wave relfection expressed in letters.

See you back next week with another free technique from Deke!


Interested in more?
• The entire Deke’s Techniques weekly series on
• Courses by Deke McClelland on
• All Photoshop courses on

Suggested courses to watch next:
• Photoshop CS5 One-on-One: Mastery
• Photoshop Masking & Compositing: Fundamentals
 Photoshop CS6 Beta Preview

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