Deke’s Techniques 121: Reflecting Type in Water

121 Reflecting type in water

Having returned safely from a memorable weekend at Jazz Fest in New Orleans (half horrible :-( half awesome grin I promise to share more later this week), it is once again time to share with you a very special technique. This one’s about creating type that reflects in junk ‘n’ stuff in Photoshop.

Here’s the official description from

In this week’s free Deke’s Techniques, Deke reflects on how to make it appear as though text is mirrored in rippled water. You’ll start, with this fairly innocuous, if not miraculously floating text set on top of a photo of gently moving water.

The word Relax floats on water in Photoshop

Not surprisingly, Deke creates a base reflection by turning the text layer into a smart object, copying it, then using the Free Transform command to stretch out the copy and invert it. But the real magic of this technique is creating a displacement map from the water’s ripples that you can then apply to the reflected letters. In order to get the letters to align correctly with the feet of the original text, as well as ensure that the effect edges are smooth and believable (as believable as floating text can be), you’ll need to see the fairly sophisticated way Deke goes about building the displacement map. It takes some tweaking, but the end result is this study in serenity.

The word Relax reflects in water in Photoshop

For a real study in relaxed reflection, members of can indulge in an exclusive movie from Deke in which he takes this effect a step further by making the waves of the reflected letters reappear inside their original source letters. Yes, it’s a reflection on reflection, studied and then shared by Deke:

The word Relax reflects the water in Photoshop

And Deke will be back next week with another free technique!

Incidentally, it’s worth mentioning that these official descriptions come to us from Content Curator and long friend to dekeOnline, Colleen Wheeler. I only mention this because, just a few days ago, she almost died. I’m serious, almost stone cold died! In fact, that’s the “half horrible” bit I mentioned up front.

That’s why she forgot to make a Franky Goes to Hollywood joke. BECAUSE SHE ALMOST DIED!!! (No, I didn’t—cw)

More to come.

Next entry:My In-Depth and Revamped Video Series, “Photoshop CS6 One-on-One,” Begins

Previous entry:CS6 is Here, Encased in the Creative Cloud


  • OMG Colleen take care. (ps love the type effect)

    A “Dr Livingstone I presume.  Reports of my death are greatly exaggerated “

    I love this effect so much I’m off to Lynda to regain my sanity. Thank you.


    Channels and masks : advanced (almost done)
    after finishing
    Channels and masks :The essentials

    I’m in dire need of some cooling down.

    This liquid type will be perfect.

    Perhaps with a beer later, just for medicinal purposes.


  • OMG

    I hope Colleen makes a rapid recovery from whatever befell her.

  • Actually it was Colleen that befell

    On to a unmarked stairway of doom. But I seem as sharp as ever, don’t I? Thanks to you guys for your good wishes.