How to paint reflections in a broken mirror

Digital illustrator Chester Ocampo reveals how to paint a convincing reflection in a broken mirror

broken mirror

As with a lot of illustrations involving real-life, everyday items, a bit of research always helps. Short of conducting my own experiment of breaking a mirror and observing my reflections in the shards, there's always the internet for a quick image search on broken mirrors.

After analysing the common details in the broken mirrors (a focal point from which the mirror breaks, the way the reflections are displaced and so on), I make a mental note to ensure these details can be seen in my artwork.

01.  Paint the image

broken mirror image

Using Photoshop, I make a full rendition of a person, our subject, staring at her reflection in a broken mirror. She's reaching out to touch the mirror.

02.  Use layers

broken mirror layers

On a separate layer, I draw lines that represent the cuts and cracks. I've made sure the focal point steers clear of important elements of her face, like the eyes and mouth.

03. Plan it with colour

broken mirror colour plan

On a new canvas, I create shards based on the guidelines I've made. The shards are grouped by colour, each representing a different angle of reflection. I move the shards around ever so slightly. The impact of whatever managed to break the mirror also dislodged the shards from their original position on the wall.

04. Puzzle it together

broken mirror puzzle together

I drag multiple copies of the rendered girl image onto the shards' canvas and mask one copy to each shard group. I then individually resize and reposition the rendered images in varying, subtle scales. Once I'm satisfied with how the reflection is displaced in each shard, I add highlights and shadows on the edges to complete the effect.

Words: Chester Ocampo

Chester is a freelance digital illustrator based in Manila. He loves Haruki Murakami novels, video games, conspiracy theories and salmon sashimi.

This article originally appeared in ImagineFX magazine issue 48.

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