Reflect Text Or Images In Illustrator CS3

Since the release of this blog, many people have been asking me how I make the text in my logo and avatar look as if it were reflecting, giving it a more modern, three dimensional look.

I’ll tell you right off, I don’t use Adobe Photoshop very much. I think it probably has to do with the fact that I had and used Adobe Illustrator for about 2 years before I ever got my hands on Photoshop, so I just became accustomed to working with Illustrator.

While I found an over abundance of tutorials showing you how to reflect text or images with Adobe Photoshop, it’s somewhat more difficult to find the same tutorial for Adobe Illustrator. So, here we are.

In this tutorial, I’m going to show you how you can reflect an image or text using Adobe Illustrator in just a few easy steps. I am using Illustrator CS3, but the same principle applies for other versions of Illustrator. I’ll be referring to text since that’s what I’ve used in this tutorial, but you can do the same with images.

Here is the image we’re starting with. It’s just text over a simple background. You don’t need a background by any means, but I’ve included it to make the reflection stand out.

How to reflect with Illustrator

First you want to make a copy of the text and place it just underneath the original. It’s important that the copy be aligned exactly with the original. To do this, you can hold the “option/alt” and “shift” key, drag and release, or you can just do a simple “alt+c”, “alt+v” and make sure the alignment on the X axis is exactly the same.

How to reflect with Illustrator

Now with the copied text, you want to reflect it horizontally. All you have to do is right click it, go to “Transform” and select “Reflect”. Be sure you select “Horizontal” instead of “Vertical”.

How to reflect with Illustrator

Once you do that, you want to select everything except the reflected text.

How to reflect with Illustrator

Then in the main menu, go to “Object”, “Lock”, “Selection”. This will lock everything on the screen except the reflected text.

Now, with your rectangle tool, make a rectangle that completely covers over the reflected text. This should be a black and white gradient rectangle. For me, when creating a horizontal rectangle, I’ve got to make the angle of the gradient in the gradient box -90 degrees.

How to reflect with Illustrator

Depending on how much you want the reflection to show, you’ll adjust the gradient accordingly. The black area of the gradient will not be visible while the white area of the gradient is completely visible. Here’s how my new image looks:

How to reflect with Illustrator

Notice again that the gradient box completely covers the reflected text.

Now you want to select all. You can do this by holding “select+a”. Notice that the content you locked before is not selected.

How to reflect with Illustrator

With everything selected, go to the transparency palette and click the little down arrow to show all the options, then select “Make Opacity Mask”.

How to reflect with Illustrator

Here’s the last step. With everything still selected, go to the Transparency palette and adjust the opacity percentage. Usually, somewhere between 25-50% works well for me.

How to reflect with Illustrator

That’s it! Here’s what the final image looks like:

How to reflect with Illustrator

Feel free to play around with the gradient and the opacity to find the style you’re looking for. You can also try adjusting the space between the original text and the reflected text as well.

Feel free to leave any comments you have, or tell us what worked best for you. If you’ve applied this style to your site, give us the link so we can all check it out.


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