Lake Reflection Tutorial

anime lake reflection tutorial
This is a short tutorial on how I paint water reflection and waves for lake scenery artwork.

Preparing the layers

For lake scenery, I usually separate artwork into a few key layers. The layers will help us to paint the reflection easier later on.

lake reflection tutorial
Sky and cloud layers Read my other tutorials on anime cloud painting or look at the brush settings for painting anime cloud.

lake reflection tutorial
Main landscape layers read my other tutorials on anime tree painting or watch a timelapse video of me painting anime tree.

lake reflection tutorial
water layer. Paint the water with a soft edge round brush. Try not to paint it with only one solid color, the area near the ground can be in another shade / hue.

Painting The Reflection

A quickway to "paint" reflection for a wide angle scene like this, is to flip part of the image vertically and apply motion blur to it. This is main reason why we want to seperate the painting into layers earlier.

lake reflection tutorial
Duplicate (CTRL-J) the mountain and grass layers and merge them (CTRL-E). Then, flip it vertically. Edit > Transform > Flip Vertical

lake reflection tutorial
Apply vertical motion blur filter. Filter > Blur > Motion Blur. You can adjust the opacity and contrast for the reflection layer too.

Painting The Water Wave

There are multiple ways to paint the wave.

lake reflection tutorial
One method I usually apply is to add layer mask to the reflection layer we did earlier. Then erase part of the edge on reflection layer.

lake reflection tutorial
Ofcourse, we can still draw the wave pattern manually (in another layer). If we enable Outer Glow in layer styles for the wave pattern, it will give this sunlight reflection effect. Remember to use Linear Dodge or Screen layer blending mode too.

Generating The Water Wave

We can also generate the water pattern using Motion Blur filter on noise or cloud image. Some animation do use the procedural cloud texture to animate water.

lake reflection tutorial
First, fill a layer with solid black colour. The solid black color is not a half-loading JPG =)

lake reflection tutorial
Apply monochromatic noise filter to the black layer. Filter > Noise > Add Noise.

lake reflection tutorial
Apply motion blur filter to the noise image. Do not over blur the noise image, as we want to retain some details in it. Filter > Blur > Motion Blur.

lake reflection tutorial
Adjust the contrast the image. CTRL-L

lake reflection tutorial
Then set the layer blending mode to screen

Other Reflection

Reflection of other object are done in the same way like how we did earlier.

lake reflection tutorial
The bird on drift wood are painted in another layer. I duplicate them, vertical flip and apply motion blur filter on it. Remember to move the reflection layer under the water wave pattern layer.

lake reflection tutorial
Same things are done to the cloud and sky layers. Flip the duplicated image and vertical blur.

Salar de Uyuni
If you look at photos reference, we usually won't see the cloud reflection on water unless the water is still. It is up to you whether you want to include it in the final artwork.

Sparkly Effect

Photoshop have this "star" brush by default which you can use to paint this sparkly effect.

lake reflection tutorial
Enable Outer Glow in layer styles and use Linear Dodge layer blending mode for this layer.

Adventure 2015
If we paint lots of them, we will have this sparkly water effect.


Some of my lake scenery artwork I did in this few years.

kingfisher Sunset Lake Happy Monster Hidden Fishing Strange Night Sunset Bird Sunset Bird Night Fishing


DeviantArt KingFisher
DeviantArt Fishing
DeviantArt Sunset Lake
DeviantArt Adventure 2015
DeviantArt Happy Monster
DeviantArt Hidden
DeviantArt Salar De Uyuni
Pixiv KingFisher
DeviantArt Strange Night
DeviantArt Sunset Bird
DeviantArt Drift Wood
DeviantArt Night Fishing


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