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The Reflection Fades

Creating a tabletop reflection effect in Freehand MX By Dave Nagel
You've seen this effect before, most predominantly in advertising materials in which products need to look shiny and new--the look of an object sitting on a semi-reflective surface. This effect can be created with clever photography or, much more readily, though image manipulation in a program like Adobe Photoshop. But can it be done with vector graphics? It certainly can, and today we'll look at an easy way to create this effect on extruded text in Macromedia Freehand MX.

I'm using extruded text in this example to highlight a couple of extra points about extrusions that are worth noting. But you certainly need not work with extruded text or any other extruded object in order to accomplish this effect. I'll point out any differences in the process that would crop up with non-extruded objects.

Just so you know where we're heading with this, here's a full-size example of the effect we're creating.

Again, all of this is vector-based, and any effects that we apply in this process are non-destructive.

Begin by creating your extruded (or non-extruded) object. (For an explanation of the basics of Freehand MX extrusions, you can read my previous article on the topic here. You can find additional articles on extrusions in our Tutorials archive here.)

Duplicate your object, and, in the Object palette, rotate it 180 degrees on the y and z axes, as shown below. Then line up the two objects so that the letters meet up.

You'll notice right away that the vanishing points of the two objects are way off. So, using the Pointer tool, select both objects, and then choose Modify > Extrude > Share Vanishing Points. Drag one of the objects' vanishing point markers, and both of your objects will line up.

Now, because your reflection is a rotated version of your original object, the lighting is also wrong. So select the bottom object and adjust its lighting to the opposite of your original object. For example, in my original object, the lighting was from the Left Top and Right Top. So I switch around the bottom object to Left Bottom and Right Bottom. Remember, we want a mirror image here.

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