- Straight Away (reflection basics)
- Up, Up and Away (reflections of objects suspended above a body of water)
- Pick Up Sticks (reflections of complex structures)
- Around The Side (reflection in a mirror)
MIRROR, MIRROR ON THE WALL
When Alice slipped through the looking glass, she didn’t concern herself with how to draw what she found on the other side. As an artist, however, you need to understand how reflections look and why they appear as they do.
A reflection is an exact replica of the original object, except in reverse. The reflection of a tree, for instance, has its leaves at its base and trunk at the top, the opposite of the actual tree (Figure-1A). In every other respect, however, reflection and original are the same, including their heights. Figure-2A diagrams this fact.
An object and its reflection are equal in size.
Up, Up and Away
Not all objects are directly on the ground, of course. Some float in the sky, as with clouds, and some are suspended above the ground, such as the tip of the fishing rod in Figure-3.
To understand the reflection of an object suspended above the ground, it may help to visualize the object as being supported by a stick as in Figure-3A). The height of the stick as it rises above the ground line (G.L.), and the height of its reflection are equal (Figure-3B). This is all in accordance with Rule #2, as follows:
The height of an object and the height of an object’s reflection are equal as measured from the ground line.
Pick Up Sticks
Complex objects can be thought of as being constructed of sticks that reflect in water or a mirror.
For our example, consider a crate sitting on a pier.
When reduced to skeletal form, we can imagine the three visible vertical edges of the pier as upright sticks, each of a certain height, and each casting a reflection of equal height into the water
When the tips of the sticks are connected together, the shape of the pier’s reflection becomes clear.
(Notice that the top of the pier is not visible in the reflection. A reflection is a reversal of an actual object; in this case the pier's reflection is upside-down. Thus, if the real pier did not obscure it, we would be able to see the reflected pier's underside.)
The reflection of the crate forms in a similar manner as the pier. Again, one can think of the crate’s vertical edges as being sticks. In this case, however, it is helpful to imagine the crate as being stretched downward until its base is touching the surface of the water. Remember, reflections begin at the ground line, which is the water’s surface in our example. (The extra stretched out portion of the crate is shown as a broken line in the illustration.)
figure 4e & 4f
Here we have the completed rendering, with Figure-4F showing the reflection as distorted by ripples.
Around The Side
The same ideas and principles that apply to reflections downward into water also apply to reflections sideways into a wall mirror.
Figure-5A below is nearly the same as Figure-4E, although it has been rotated 90° and a mirror and shelf have been added.
In Figure-5B the shelf is wider and the blocks of wood are no longer directly against the mirror. Consistent with Rule #2 is the fact that the distance of the actual block of wood from the surface of the mirror is the same distance as the reflection, as indicated by arrows "Y" and "Y1." Also, the thickness of the genuine and reflected wood blocks are the same, in keeping with Rule #1.