How to create a simple reflected text effect in Photoshop


*Updated in July 2016 to reflect (no pun intended) the changes in Photoshop. This still works perfectly on older versions of the program*

Today’s Photoshop tutorial shows you how to give the impression of reflected text. This is a fun and easy to achieve effect, created using a couple of transformations, the gradient tool and a layer style.

1. Create a new Photoshop document by choosing File > New or press Cmd + N (Mac) or Ctrl + N (Windows) on the keyboard. Either way, it will bring up the same New Document dialog box.
Set the width to 1000px and the height to 1000 pixels with a white background. Because this is a graphic we’re creating just for the web and not for print, you’ll set it at a low resolution of 72 ppi. Click OK.

01 - Create New Photoshop Document

2. Select the Type tool (T) from the toolbar. Set the font family and size on the Options bar at the top of the screen. You can use any font for this but in this example, I’m using a sans-serif font called Phosphate Inline which is free and can be found on several font websites – here’s one link where you can get it. Set the type to a large value, I’ve used 150 pt and set the colour to black.

02 - Type Options Bar

3. Add some text to your Photoshop document. Click once with the Type tool, then start to type.

03 - Add type

4.  Make a duplicate of the layer by press Ctrl + J (windows) or Ctrl + J (windows). It won’t look any different on screen but if you check your Layers panel you’ll see you now have an exact copy on the layer above.

5. You’re going to transform the new text layer by flipping it vertically. A quick way of doing this is to choose Edit > Free Transform. A bounding box appears around the type. Right-Click on it and from the menu that appears, choose Flip Vertical.

04 - Free Transform

6. You’ll see the duplicate text is now upside down. Select the Move Tool (V) in the toolbar, then use the down arrow key on the keyboard to move the upside down text downwards.

Tip: Hold down the Shift key while you hit the down arrow to jump 10 pixels at a time.

Move the upside-down text to the point where there is just a small gap between each piece of text. Almost as if their toes were touching each other 🙂

05 - Type Flipped

7. Press Enter (Windows) or Return (Mac) on the keyboard to commit the free transform and the bounding box will disappear. Note: you could also have done this before you moved the upsided down text downwards.

8. The next thing you need to do is another Free Transformation, this time you’ll do a Perspective transformation. However, before Photoshop allows you to do that, you’ll rasterize the type. I don’t know why Photoshop won’t let you do this without rasterizing, but it won’t! 🙂

In the Layers panel, Right- Click on the duplicate or upside down text layer and choose Rasterize layer from the menu that appears.
06 - Rasterize Type

You’ll notice in the Layers panel that there is no longer a big T beside your duplicate layer. Rasterize type means that it is no longer editable as type and is now made up of pixels. Now we can apply a Perspective transformation to it.

9. Choose Edit > Free Transform. The bounding box appears around the upside down text. Right-Click inside the bounding box and choose Perspective.

07 - Free Transform Perspective

10. With your cursor, select the bottom left corner handle and drag it out a little bit to the left. Press Enter (Windows) or Return (Mac) to complete the transformation.

08 - Drag Out Perspective

11.  In your Layers panel, on the upside-down text layer, Ctrl + Click (windows) or Cmd + Click (mac) on the preview thumbnail. This will make a selection around all of the upside-down text.

09 - Cmd Click - Select Layer Contents

12. Choose Select > Modify > Expand and expand the selection by 3 pixels. You’ll how the selection gets larger around the upside down text.

09 - Expand Selection By 2 Pixels

13. Press Delete to get rid of the upside down text but leave the empty area selected.

10 - Delete Selection

14. Next you’re going to add a gradient of Black to White into the empty selection. First you need to reset your Background and Foreground colours to white and black respectively. Do that by hitting D on the keyboard, or click on the tiny black and white swatch icons underneath the main foreground and background selector on the toolbar.

11- Reset Foreground and Background Colour Swatches

14. Select the Gradient tool (G). Gradient Tool Photoshop

15. In the Tool Options bar at the top of the screen,  click on the Gradient Editor.

11a - Gradient Editor on Options Bar

Choose the Foreground to Background gradient when the Gradient Editor opens. The click OK.

12a - Gradient Picker

16. Now you’ll add that gradient to the empty selection. Drag a straight line from the top of the selection to near the bottom of the selection.

12 - Add Gradient To Selection

17. Press Crtl + D (windows) or Cmd + D (mac) to deselect the selection.

18. In your Layers panel, reduce down the Opacity of the upside down text to about 40% (make it a higher percentage if you want to see more of the “reflection”).

13 - Set Opacity to 40

19. You’ll finish up the reflection now, with a subtle addition of an inner glow around the reflected text. Click on the Layer Styles button at the bottom of the layers panel and choose Inner Glow from the drop down menu. Set the Glow colour to white, Mode to Screen and Opacity to about 40%.

15 - Inner Glow Layer Style

You should now have a nice piece of reflected text something like this:

16 Final Reflected Text


Following along with this Photoshop tutorial you’ve made a reflection with text, but the idea is basically the same for any object that you want to reflect or apply that effect to. You may not use reflected text too often, but you’re now familiar with the Free Transform options and the Inner Glow layer style.

I hope you found this guide useful, I would be really grateful if you would share it. Thank you so much! ?