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Create realistic reflections in After Effects.

Getting Started

  • Drag the Reflection effect onto your clip.
  • Move the T-bar control to the baseline of your subject.
  • Drag the vertical angle control to give your reflection the right slant for your shot.

Modify the Effect

  • Reflection Plane contains controls that stipulate where and how the reflection is positioned. Drag the T-bar interface in the composition window to set values visually, or use the controls below to dial in specific values.
    • Clip to Bounding Box toggles whether the reflection restricts itself to stay within the area of the source it's applied to. Deactivate this to allow reflection effects to expand to anywhere within the frame, but note this will drastically increase render times.
    • Axis Setup contains basic preset options that control where the base of the reflection's axis sits (Bottom, Top, Left, or Right), with the reflection extending opposite of the position selected. The reflection's axis handles can also be manually moved to any position (Custom).
    • Axis Start defines the coordinates of the reflection's left-most reference point.
    • Axis End defines the coordinates of the reflection's right-most reference point.
    • Slant & Height sets the direction of the reflection, and where it ends. Defines the coordinates of the point extending from the center of the reflection's base, which affects its slant direction and height.
    • Axis Color adjusts the color of the axis overlay controls.
  • Reflection Style adjusts the appearance of the reflection.
    • Opacity controls the transparency of the reflection.
    • Softness adjusts the amount of blur applied throughout the reflection.
    • Softness Aspect controls whether the reflection is softer in the horizontal or vertical direction. The default value is 1, which means the reflection edge is blurred in both directions and its height/width aspect ratio is 1:1. The greater this value is above 1, the more stretched the Softness becomes vertically. If the value is less than 1, then the Softness becomes stretched horizontally.
    • Softness Type contains four blur types that increase their distortions based on the one selected
      • Simple creates a simple triangular blur across the whole reflection. It does not depend on the reflection’s direction.
      • Mipmap builds a reflection blur by putting together small and large pre-made bitmap images to cause the reflection to look more blurry as it moves from the baseline. There is a finer blend and softness as the reflection gets farther from the source object.
      • Progressive Linear is the default setting, creating a blur based on the direction of the reflection. By using a linear ramp falloff, it is a more gradual-looking blur meant to mimic being a far distance from the source.
      • Progressive Square also bases its blur on the direction of the shadow, but uses a square function falloff so the blur falls off slower and doubles in its amount of softness.
    • Fade Start adjusts how far from the reflection's base point the fade will begin as a percentage of the reflection.
    • Fade Length adjusts the distance between the Fade Start point set above and full transparency. The length is a percentage of the total length of the reflection - 50% means the fade will be done by halfway up the reflection if the Fade Start is set to 0.
    • Fade Type has three options that define the gradient used between the Fade Length's start and end points.
      • Linear uses a linear ramp, the farther away from the baseline, the more faded the reflection will be.
      • Square gives you the most fade and therefore the most drop-off.
      • Inverse Square is the opposite of Square, giving the least amount of fade and drop-off. The drop-off will happen more suddenly at the end.
    • Scale Reflection controls the size of the reflection in relation to its source.
    • Offset Reflection defines the coordinates for the reflection's image in relation to its axis.
  • Reflection Bend puts a linear angle in the reflection to simulate another plane the reflection is falling onto in the distance.
    • Enable Bend toggles whether an optional bend is applied midway through the reflection. Once enabled, the Bend Axis overlay control will become visible at the end of your height control. Use this overlay to position the bend visually, or set the values in the parameters below.
    • Bend Axis Center defines the coordinates for where the center of the bend skews itself from.
    • Bend Slant & Height defines the coordinates of the point extending from the center of the bend, which affects its slant direction and height.
    • Bend Axis Color adjusts the color of the Bend Axis overlay controls.
    • Seam Style contains four options that adjust the gradient between the seam and the reflection.
      • Constant gives the seam a sharp edge
      • Linear (default) uses a linear ramp for the drop-off
      • Square gives a lot of fade or drop-off to the seam edge
      • Inverse Square gives the seam less fade and the least amount of drop-off.
    • Seam Size adjusts the width of the bend's seam.
    • Seam Intensity controls the screening of the seam color over its background. Extreme values result in higher opaqueness, with negative values inverting its color.
    • Seam Color defines which color is used to depict the bend's seam.
  • Reflection Blend controls how the reflection gets blended into the background.
    • Gamma compresses the brightness values in the reflection, giving you control over the midpoint or gray level. It allows you to compress or expand/stretch the values in the mid ranges. The range of value is 0.1 to 10, and the default is 1.

      Gamma will have the visual effect of slightly lightening or darkening the reflection, as well as changing the saturation level. Values below 1 will lighten the reflection and make its colors appear washed out. Values above 1 will make the reflection look darker and deeper in color.
    • Brightness affects the reflection color. This control is actually a ‘gain’ control, not generating contrast or brightness/dullness. It will compress or expand/stretch the RGB values in the reflection.

      The range of value is 0 to 10, and the default is 1. At a value of 0, the reflection disappears. Below a Brightness of 1, the reflection color gets darker because the RGB values are compressed. As the Brightness value goes above 1, the reflection expands the RGB value range. Gain tends to multiply the highlights of an image, which means that higher Brightness values give the reflection a saturated and intensified look.
    • Random Seed controls the kernel used for the fractal noise that is used to render the reflection. The noise pattern helps to eliminate banding in the reflection. This can occur, for instance, if the reflection has an exaggerated Height/Slant angle or a lot of Softness blur applied. If you change Random Seed, you will change the pattern of the noise.
    • Fade Noise adds an optional noise effect atop the reflection specifically to the fadeout areas of the reflection. This hides any contouring or banding in the image and helps you to control what the reflection's fadeout looks like. The value range is 0 to 10, and the default is 1
    • Post Softness softens or blurs the noise so it doesn't look as pronounced. This control does not blur or soften the reflection. Instead it affects how the noise is applied to that alpha. The value range is 0 to 10, and the default is 1. If Post Softness is set to 0, there will be a tiny bit of pixel-based noise. Turn Post Softness all the way up and the noise will be completely blurred out. At a low value like 2, you get little pixel 'dimples'. This can help the Fade Noise have a more film-like or natural look
    • Source Opacity controls the transparency of the source.
    • Reflection Only toggles whether the source is rendered (disabled) or not (enabled).
    • Blend Mode provides basic blending options between the reflection and its source.
  • Displacement has options for displacing the reflection effect.
    • Displacement Map selects which layer will guide the reflection’s displacement.
    • Use for Displacement sets which channel (Luminance, Red, Green, Blue, or Alpha) is targeted as the source for displacing the reflection.
    • Horizontal and Vertical Displacement controls how far along the horizontal and vertical axis the reflection is displaced from its original position.
    • Displacement Falloff applies a gradient ramp from the baseline axis out, following the slant and height axis control to soften the falloff. A range of 0 means the entire reflection is displaced. Higher ranges revert the reflection back to its original position.
    • Contour Detail controls how closely the displacement follows the contours of its displacement source. Lower values result in simpler contours, higher values result in finer-detailed contours.
    • Smooth reduces any jagged edges or contours of the displacement. Higher values result in smoother lines closer to the source. Lower values result in more edges.
    • Displacement Map Behavior contains two options for positioning the displacement source:
      • Center Map positions the source directly in the center of the frame.
      • Stretch Map to Fit pulls or squeezes the boundaries of the source to fill the frame.
    • Show Displacement Map toggles an overlay showing the area of displacement.
  • Motion Blur generates a blur effect for the movement of the reflection.
    • Motion Blur has options to turn the motion blur On (uses Reflection’s own Motion Blur), Off, or whatever the Comp Settings are.
    • Shutter Angle adjusts the amount of blurring akin to using a longer frame exposure.
    • Shutter Phase allows synchronizing or desynchronizing the timing of the shutter opening and closing with the frame rate of the footage.
    • Samples adjusts the amount of sampling done prior to the motion blur. Higher values result in a sharper blur.
    • Render Method switches between utilizing the GPU resources or CPU resources for rendering an output. GPU tends to be faster but less stable on less robust systems, while CPU is more stable with longer rendering times.