1. Design & Illustration
  2. Photo Effects

How to Create a Fake Glass Window Action in Adobe Photoshop

Read Time:5 minsLanguages:
Final product imageFinal product imageFinal product image
What You'll Be Creating

In this tutorial you will learn how to create an amazing fake window effect.

At the end of the tutorial, you'll have an action which will automate the entire process with a single click.

I'll try to explain everything in much detail so that everyone can follow along, even if this is your first time with Photoshop.

If you want to create a fake window effect in a single click and you do not have time or not want to create your own actions, you may be interested in this fake window action from my portfolio on GraphicRiver. With it, you can add an awesome fake window effect to your own image in just a few seconds.


What You'll Need

To make this action we need two pictures, one base image and another one that will be reflected in our fake window. For the main image, we will use the following picture by Ryan Holloway, which you can find at Unsplash.

You can use any photo, but for an optimal result, it is preferable that the image has a dark background. Therefore, interior photos work very well for this effect.

Main ImageMain ImageMain Image

For the reflected image, we can use any kind of picture, preferably urban landscapes or skylines. In our case, we are going to use this photo of a cityscape by Free-Photos, which you can find on Pixabay.


1. How to Add a Brush to Photoshop

Step 1

Go to Edit > Presets > Preset Manager... In the Preset Manager window, select Preset Type: Brushes and click Load...

Browse and select the FakeWindow.atn file that came with the downloadable attachment. Then, click Done.

Preset ManagerPreset ManagerPreset Manager

Step 2

Select the Brush Tool (B). Make sure both Opacity and Flow are set to 100%.

Brush BarBrush BarBrush Bar

2. How to Set Up Your Document

Step 1

First, open the photo that you want to work with. To open your photo, go to File > Open, choose your photo, and click Open. Your photo should be the Background layer. If it is not, go to Layer > New > Background from Layer.

From BGFrom BGFrom BG

Step 2

Place the cityscape picture above the main image; for our action, name the new layer reflection. To place the image in the right place, we can change the Blending Mode to Overlay.

Place ReflectionPlace ReflectionPlace Reflection

Step 3

Add a New Layer above the reflection layer. Name the new layer area.

Now choose the Brush Tool (B), pick a soft brush, adjust the size of the brush, and brush over your main subject. You can use any color; it doesn't matter.

Area LayerArea LayerArea Layer

3. How to Create the Action

Once our images are placed, we are ready to start recording our action. We'll put it in a separate set for easier management.

Step 1 

Go to Window > Actions or press F9 on the keyboard to open up the Actions panel. Then, click the Create new set icon, name the set Fake Windows Action, and click OK. We'll place the action inside this set.

New setNew setNew set

Step 2

Click the Create new action icon and name it Fake Window. Click Record to start recording all the subsequent steps in Photoshop.

From this point onwards, everything you do will be recorded, so please be careful and keep an eye on the Actions panel. If you make a mistake, click the Stop playing/recording icon, and Delete the unnecessary step from the Fake Window action. Then click the Begin recording icon again to continue.

New actionNew actionNew action

4. How to Start Recording the Action

Step 1

Hide the area layer by toggling the eyeball icon off. Then, press D on the keyboard to reset swatches.

Hide areaHide areaHide area

Step 2

With the area layer selected, right-click on the layer thumbnail, and hit Select Pixels. Then select the Background layer and press Control-J to Copy the selection into a New Layer.

Select PixelsSelect PixelsSelect Pixels

Go to Layer > Rename Layer... to rename the new layer BGblur, and drop the opacity to about 30%.

Go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur..., enter Radius: 5 Pixels and click OK.

Gaussian BlurGaussian BlurGaussian Blur

Step 3

Select the reflection layer, and create a copy of the current layer using Layer > Duplicate Layer (Control-J). Go to Layer > Rename Layer... and rename the duplicated layer as reflection1

Change the Blending Mode of the reflection1 layer to Lighten and drop the opacity to 40%Hide the original reflection layer.

Reflection1 LayerReflection1 LayerReflection1 Layer

Go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur..., enter Radius: 10 Pixels and click OK.

Gaussian 2Gaussian 2Gaussian 2

Step 4

Now go to Layer > Duplicate Layer (Control-J) to duplicate the reflection1 layer. Change the Blending Mode to Multiply and drop the opacity to about 30%. Go to Layer > Rename Layer... and rename the duplicated layer as reflection2.

reflection2 layerreflection2 layerreflection2 layer

Step 5

Now let's add some texture to our fake window. Go to Layer > New > Layer... to add a new layer and name the new layer as Dirt. Go to Select > All (Control-A).

Select the Rectangular Marquee Tool (M). Then, right-click on the image and select Make Work Path.... Enter Tolerance: 0.5 pixels and click OK. Now choose the Brush Tool (B) and select the dirtglass1 brush.

Dirtglass1 brushDirtglass1 brushDirtglass1 brush

Press D on the keyboard to reset swatches. Then, press X on the keyboard to switch swatches and set your Foreground Color as White.  Press P on the keyboard to select the Pen ToolRight-click on the image and select Stroke Path.... and click OK.

Stroke PathStroke PathStroke Path

Now, right-click on the image and select Delete Path.

Dirt StrokeDirt StrokeDirt Stroke

Change the Blending Mode to Soft Light and drop the opacity to about 50%.

Dirt layer opacityDirt layer opacityDirt layer opacity

Step 6

Select the reflection2 layer, hold Shift, and select the reflection1 layer.

Press Control-G to Group the layers. Go to Layer > Rename Group... and rename it as Reflections.

Reflections groupReflections groupReflections group

Step 7

Hide the Reflections group and dirt layer.

Select Channels panel, right-click on blue channel and select Duplicate Channel...

Duplicate blue channelDuplicate blue channelDuplicate blue channel

Go to Image > Adjustments > Levels... (Control-L) to bring up the Levels adjustments window. Change the Highlight level to 217 and Shadow level to 61 and click OK.


Select the blue copy channel, press Control, and click on the layer thumbnail.

Blue copy selectionBlue copy selectionBlue copy selection

Step 8

Show the RGB channel and hide the blue copy channel.

Return to the Layers panel; we are going to use this selection to create a layer mask for the Reflections group.

Go to Layer > Layer Mask > Reveal Selection. Press Control-I to Invert the layer mask color. Show the Reflections group and the Dirt layer.

Reflections MaskReflections MaskReflections Mask

5. Finish Recording the Action

Finally, we have our action finished. Hence, in the Actions panel, hit the Stop button to stop the recording.

Stop ActionStop ActionStop Action

You're Done!

Now that you have your own Fake Window action, you can easily create stunning images in seconds.

I hope that you've learned something useful for your future projects.

Final ResultFinal ResultFinal Result

If you would like to create an effect as shown below, using a single click in just a few seconds, then check out my Fake Window Photoshop Action.

Action LinkAction LinkAction Link
One subscription.
Unlimited Downloads.
Get unlimited downloads