After Effects Tutorial: Reflection

reflection
Image courtesy of istockphoto.com
Author: Michele Yamazaki, Toolfarm, Inc.
Skill Level: Easy
Application: Adobe After Effects
Version: AE 7.0
Project Files: Download Project File
Movie Sample: View Quicktime
Plug-ins Used: None

I’ve been seeing this reflected look everywhere these days… from Apple.com to software to jewelry print ads.

This look is very easy to create in Adobe Photoshop or After Effects.

Note: The image is not included with the project file because it is a stock image. The image is replaced with a solid blue placeholder. If you replace the solid with your own image, it may not line up properly because of size differences. You’ll need to reposition your image.

Instructions:

  1. Import your image into After Effects. Scale it to the size that you wish it to be.
  2. Make the image layer a 3D layer. We will be animating a camera later in the tutorial.
  3. Duplicate your image layer.
  4. On the duplicate layer, scale the X & Y values to -20.0. Scale the Z value to -100%.
  5. On the duplicate layer, set the Y rotation to 180°.
    layers
  6. Line up the bottom of the duplicate image to the bottom of the original image.
  7. Double click the duplicate image to open the image in layer editing mode.
  8. Draw a mask around the bottom portion of the image.
  9. Tap the F key to bring up the Mask Feather settings. Set yours to 175 or higher… whatever looks good to you.
    Mask
  10. Close the layer window and go back to the comp window.
  11. Select your reflection layer. Apply Levels. Effect > Color Correction > Levels.

    The idea is to make the reflection light without completely blowing it out or turning down transparency. I adjusted Output Black to 214 and left the remaining settings alone.
    Levels

  12. Apply a camera to the comp. Layer > New > Camera. Set it to whatever size you like.
  13. Keyframe the Y rotation of the camera. I set it so that it rotates from 13° to 0° over 3 seconds. Do whatever looks right to you.

Other options: Use video or animate shapes or images using this method.