Today’s post is quite a deviation from our usual content.

You could probably call Jim and me purists when it comes to photography. We compose mostly in the camera, spend hours in search of beautiful locations, patiently wait for the right conditions in the field, use post-production with restraint (Jim more so than me :-)) and we never use textures, filters, or other effects. 

However, as a graphic designer, I also find myself at times needing to create illustrations and I’ve come across a very fun tool/toy that allows me to use my own photos or stock images and put a graphic spin on them. It’s a Photoshop add-on called Reflector that works with Smart Objects. (Click here to learn how to use Smart Objects.) Once you’ve uploaded an image, it gives you 12 options for using various reflections of the image. 

You can work with a rectangular or square image. I was most intrigued with the square format and especially with the 4 diamond presets which will create beautiful mandalas and kaleidoscope-like photo illustrations. 

The Process

I start out by cropping my images into a square. I then upload them to the Reflector Photoshop page and play with the different presets. A word of warning: This is highly addictive!

Especially in the beginning, it’s really impossible to predict the outcome but the surprise is the fun and addictive part. After a while, I got the hang of it and had a little more control over the effects. Simple architectural images, abstracts, cropped images, and close-ups seem to work best but I bet one could do something interesting with portraits as well. 

Below you’ll see examples starting with the original photo followed by 2 of the most successful preset effects. I’ve also created a gallery with 20 more images that produced successful end results.

View the Gallery at the bottom of this post.

The cost for the Reflector add-on is $19.00 for personal use. To purchase click here »

Have fun!