Reflectively Refractive Glass Filter Tutorial
This is an advanced tutorial, illustrating a simple method of giving the illusion of a 3d reflection to a particular form, using Photoshop's Glass filter. It should work in Photoshop versions 5 and later. For the demonstration I will use Photoshop 7.

This method can be used in conjunction with lighting effects for slippery smooth results.



1
a) Create an image, 800x800 pixels. For reference purposes, save this image (Ctrl+S) as glass.psd.

b) Use the type tool, or create an original form, filling most of the image, preferably using a typeface with thick smooth edges.

This example is using Goudy Old Style, Extra Bold. For reference, let this layer be known as the 'Type' layer.

c) Now holding down Ctrl, click on the Type layer in the Layer Window to select the it's transparency.

2
a) In the Channels Window, press the 'Save selection as channel' button to create a channel of the selection.



b) Now, click on the new channel this created, and with the selection still in tact, Gaussian Blur it accordingly.

Might I suggest, a series of blurs in succession, so that the edges falloff very smoothly.

Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur... 9 pixels
Then blur 6 pixels.
Then blur 6 pixels.
Then again, 3 pixels.
Then again, 3 pixels.
Then finally, only 1 pixel.

The height map you create here is key to the goodness of the final effect.

Tip:
If you have My Actions loaded, this blurring process can be done quickly and easily by pressing: F8 (blur 9px), F7 (blur 6px), F6 (blur 3px), F5 (blur 1px)


c) Once you deem your blurration fit for submission, press Ctrl+A to select the entire channel, then copy it to the clipboard Ctrl+C.

d) Create a new image (Ctrl+N), of the same size (800x800), and paste (Ctrl+V) the blurred channel into it. Now, save this image as a glass_bump.psd into the same folder you are working from. You may now close it if you wish.

3
a) Download this photo by right clicking on the link then selecting 'Save target as...'. Open the image in photoshop.



Note: This can also be done by clicking on the link, so that the full image loads in your web browser, then drag the photo off the browser into Photoshop.

b)Once the image is in Photoshop, Select All (Ctrl+A), copy it to the clipboard (Ctrl+C), then go to the original image glass.psd and paste it (Ctrl+V) onto a new layer.

This will be the image which the glass refracts. Let it be known as the 'Photo' layer.

Tip:
If you use your own photo instead of this one, such as pictures of water which look cool and refreshing, make sure that it is exactly the same size as the glass.psd, or else make sure that the edges of the Photo layer go beyond he edges of the image. Also, make sure you select the whole image (not layer) (Ctrl+A) before running the Glass filter, or else there will problems with the placement of the glass refraction. You will see.

4
a) With the Photo layer selected, select all (Ctrl+A), then go in the menu:

Filter > Distort > Glass...

b) From the texture dropdown, choose Load Texture...

Then select the bump map you saved earlier, glass_bump.psd, and press OK.

These sliders are self-explanatory, though for this demonstration I will use:

Distortion: 20
Smoothness: 8

The Invert option may also produce a desired effect.

When you're done here, press OK to apply the filter.

Note: Rendering the glass filter a second or third time on the same layer (Ctrl+F) may also produce desirable effects.

The following steps are entirely optional, and should be experimented with.

5
To fit the glass refraction inside the original form, hold down Alt, then move your mouse between the Type layer and the Photo layer, until a little icon with two intersecting circles replaces the cursor, then click.

This will use the Type layer transparency as a mask for the refracted Photo layer.

To disable this, click between the layers again holding down Alt.

6
a) Holding down Ctrl click the Type layer to select it's transparency. Click on the Photo layer, then create a new layer above it.

Fill the new layer with a dark color, such as black, by pressing X (to select Black as foreground color), and then Alt+Backspace (to fill). Then deselect (Ctrl+D).

Rename this layer 'Highlight', or something to this extent.

Set the blending mode for this layer to Overlay.


b) With the Highlight layer still selected, go in the menu:

Filter > Render > Lighting Effects...

Set your texture channel to the bump map created earlier (possibly Alpha 1), then setup some nice lights, according to the Lighting Effects tutorial.

Channel height set to 100 'Mountainous', may or may not look hoopy.

When this is done, perhaps even change the blending mode to Color Dodge, or Screen... whatever appears the most groovy to your pulsating eyeballs.

In addition to the Photo layer, try refracting a layer of black and white scan lines to produce highly detailed moire patterns. This tutorial can also be used to create chrome looking items. Throw down drop shadows, stone textures, disgruntled dots, and hopefully better effects you've come up with by now.

Massage the pixels thoroughly, until they stimulate your eyeballs in return, and be sure to experiment until the persistantly unfolding depths of your mind push you to the brink of madness.


Copyright July 28, 2003; Anson Vogt