# How can I simulate a reflective table surface in a photograph of an object?

I'm trying to give a photograph I took a nice reflection on Photoshop. I've done this with previous pictures by simply making a copy, flipping it, and fading it out. However, I took this picture in two point perspective (not realizing that it would be difficult to reflect) and the reflection method I'm trying is coming out awful. What's a good way to make this reflection work?

UPDATE This is my attempt at a reflection. It was made by copying parts of the sculpture I thought would appear in the reflection and arranging it until I thought it made sense, though I know it's not perfect. What do you think? Please critique.

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Reshoot it sitting on a reflective surface if possible. – Scott Dec 26 '12 at 22:43
Not possible, the sculptures are not with me now – CodyBugstein Dec 26 '12 at 22:48
You actually have two challenges...one is 2 point perspective, the other is that you shot from above. The reflection you'd see would actually show elements you can't see from this angle. – DA01 Dec 26 '12 at 23:38
@DA01 nah hardly. Do you know how to solve the 2 point probelm? – CodyBugstein Dec 27 '12 at 0:15
I don't think it's solvable given the angle it was taken at. You can try flipping, then shearing each 'half' of the reflection on the convergence point, but you will find that it still looks odd as in the reflection, you'd never see the top of the pedestal, for instance. – DA01 Dec 27 '12 at 0:42

I can't tell you how to fix it, because I don't think you can, but here's some info that might lead to a solution:

The left is an attempt at reflecting 2-point perspective. The challenge is that the reflected object has to adhere to the same perspective points as the regular object. So after flipping, you'll have to manually adjust each 'half' of the reflection. Shearing might be one way to do this (or distort). It won't be perfect, but might get you mostly there.

Your bigger problem, though, is that given the angle you took the photo, you're actually using 3 point perspective. So, you need to do the same adjustments (matching perspectives) but you also have to then somehow hide surfaces you wouldn't normally see in the reflection. For instance, if you are looking at the top surface of an element (in this case the pedestal), you wouldn't see that surface in the reflection.

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Thanks - I used this idea in my attempt. Can you please check out the update I added to my post? – CodyBugstein Dec 27 '12 at 17:40
It's a good attempt. The pedestal at least appears proper. Still some issues with the statue itself since you can't change the angle there, but about as good as I think one can do. – DA01 Dec 27 '12 at 17:48

You won't be able to make a believable reflection of this image because of the perspective (having only the image as source).

But maybe you don't really have to make a full reflection. Perhaps you can get away with a hint of reflection to create an illusion of such.

For example. Just for demonstration, here I copied the base of the foot and morphed the bronze foot to make it somewhat fit position-wise (actually, the feet shouldn't be there at all, but I would have to do all over again to remove it so I'll leave it in for this). I then made a gradient mask over the copy and put it behind the original (I didn't do the side as this is just for demonstration, as the rough edges):

For critical situations where you don't have access to the object, you could model a rough replica in 3D and mirror that in correct perspective, then blur the resulting "reflection" to hide imperfections - of course, this will require modelling and rendering knowledge.

And there is the old painting techniques that can be used to draw colors below it in a rough manner to replicate water reflections.

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all good workarounds! – DA01 Dec 27 '12 at 2:06
3D Rendering is not an option, too complicated (unless, is there a quick way you have in mind?). I like your idea of making just a short reflection - that might do that trick. Can you check out the update in my question nonetheless and let me know what you think? Thanks! – CodyBugstein Dec 27 '12 at 17:42
@Imray Besides from the transparency issues on the base, I think your attempt is a good one. Some small tweaks with the lines/angles on the base and the position of the feet sticking out (which is very hard to fix) and it will be perfect. – K3N Dec 27 '12 at 18:16

Your updated attempt is very close. Maybe my standards are getting low but, I think this will be convincing enough with a couple of minor adjustments.

1. Mask out the portions of the reflected object that overlap. In the front, you wouldn't see the base through the sculpture's foot and on the side you wouldn't see the sculpture through the base.
2. In the reflection, the sculpture figures seem to be bending toward the viewer. Don't stretch them out. In fact, you would probably be just fine fading the reflection out right around their arms.

Now the trick is doing this consistently across a range of images!

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+1 Great suggestions. Ya it would be nice if there was a way to automate this :) – CodyBugstein Dec 27 '12 at 17:59
You can automate it but it requires shooting all your shots in the same way which means you probably won't be doing your sculptures justice. Sometimes it just takes a little long to treat fine art well ;) – plainclothes Dec 27 '12 at 18:10