How to mirror an image in Photoshop

How to Mirror an Image in Photoshop

Learn how to create a classic mirror image effect in Photoshop with this easy step-by-step tutorial for Photoshop CC 2020 and earlier!

Written by Steve Patterson.

In this tutorial, I show you how easy it is to mirror an image in Photoshop by flipping one side of your photo to create its own mirror reflection. This popular effect is often used in album covers and movie posters, and it's a simple and fun way to create interesting, symmetrical designs from virtually any image!

I'll be using Photoshop CC 2020 but this tutorial is fully compatible with any recent version of Photoshop.

Here's an example of what the final mirror image effect will look when we're done:

How to mirror an image in Photoshop
The mirror image effect.

Let's get started!

Download this tutorial as a print-ready PDF!

Step 1: Open your image

Start by opening your image into Photoshop. I'll use this image from Adobe Stock:

The original photo that will be mirrored in Photoshop
The original photo. Credit: Adobe Stock.

For help with opening images, see my Getting Images into Photoshop complete guide.

Step 2: Duplicate the document

Before we mirror the image, let's make a copy of our Photoshop document. That way, we won't accidentally save the mirrored version over the original.

Go up to the Image menu in the Menu Bar along the top of the screen and choose Duplicate:

Selecting the Duplicate command from the Image menu in Photoshop
Going to Image > Duplicate.

Then in the Duplicate Image dialog box, name the copy "Mirror" and click OK:

Naming the duplicate image in Photoshop
Naming the copy of the document.

And if we look at the document tabs just below the Options Bar, we see that we're now working on a copy of the image named "Mirror":

The document tabs in Photoshop
The document tabs.

You can close the original document by clicking the small "x" in its tab. On a Windows PC, the "x" is found on the right side of the tab, and on a Mac, it's on the left:

Closing the original Photoshop document
Closing the original document.

Step 3: Select the Crop Tool

Next, select the Crop Tool from the toolbar:

Selecting the Crop Tool from Photoshop's toolbar
Selecting the Crop Tool.

Step 4: Set the aspect ratio to Ratio

And in the Options Bar, make sure that the Crop Tool's Aspect Ratio is set to Ratio. This will let us freely adjust the sides of the cropping border:

Setting the Aspect Ratio option for the Crop Tool to Ratio in Photoshop
Setting the aspect ratio to Ratio.

Step 5: Drag one side of the cropping border to the flip point

Depending on which direction your image needs to flip, click on the left or right side of the cropping border and drag it over to the spot where the image will be mirrored.

In my case, I want to flip the image from left to right using the woman's hair as the mirror point. So I'll drag the right side of the cropping border to that location:

Dragging the right side of the cropping border to the flip point of the image in Photoshop
Dragging the right side of the cropping border to the flip point of the image.

Step 6: Drag the opposite side to crop away unwanted space

I also don't need all of that empty space on the left of the image. So to crop some of it away, I'll drag the left side of the cropping border inward:

Dragging the left side of the cropping border to crop away the unwanted area
Dragging the left side of the cropping border to crop away the unwanted area.

Step 7: Turn on "Delete Cropped Pixels"

Before you crop the image, go up to the Options Bar and make sure Delete Cropped Pixels is checked:

The Delete Cropped Pixels option for the Crop Tool in Photoshop
The Delete Cropped Pixels option.

Step 8: Crop the image

Then still in the Options Bar, crop the image by clicking the checkmark:

Clicking the checkmark to crop the image in Photoshop
Clicking the checkmark.

And here's my result after cropping the photo:

The cropped version of the image in Photoshop
The cropped version of the image.

Related: Photoshop's Crop Tool tips and tricks!

Step 9: Duplicate the Background layer

In the Layers panel, the image sits on the Background layer.

Make a copy of the Background layer by dragging it down onto the Add New Layer icon:

Dragging the Background layer onto the Add New Layer icon in Photoshop
Duplicating the Background layer.

The copy appears above the original:

The Layers panel in Photoshop showing the Background copy layer
The "Background copy" layer.

Step 10: Select the Free Transform command

With the "Background copy" layer selected, go up to the Edit menu in the Menu Bar and choose Free Transform. Or press Ctrl+T (Win) / Command+T (Mac) on your keyboard:

Selecting the Free Transform command from the Edit menu in Photoshop
Going to Edit > Free Transform.

Step 11: Drag the reference point onto the side handle

Photoshop's Free Transform box and handles appear around the image.

And in the center of the transform box is a target icon known as the reference point. This point marks the center of the transformation:

The Free Transform reference point in Photoshop
The reference point in the center of the Free Transform box.

How to show the reference point

If you are using a newer version of Photoshop and the reference point is missing, go up to the Options Bar and click inside the Toggle Reference Point checkbox:

The Toggle Reference Point checkbox for Free Transform in Photoshop
The Toggle Reference Point checkbox.

Then click on the reference point and drag it onto the handle on the side where the image will flip.

Since my image is going to flip from left to right, I'll drag the reference point onto the right side handle:

Dragging the transform reference point onto the side handle
Dragging the reference point onto the side handle.

Step 12: Choose the Flip Horizontal command

Then with the Free Transform command still active, right-click (Win) / Control-click anywhere inside the image and choose Flip Horizontal from the menu:

Choosing the Flip Horizontal command in Photoshop
Choosing the Flip Horizontal command.

It won't look like the image has flipped. Instead, the Free Transform box will move to the empty area beside the image:

The result after flipping the image horizontally in Photoshop
The result after flipping the image horizontally.

Step 13: Accept and close Free Transform

Commit the transformation and close Free Transform by clicking the checkmark in the Options Bar:

Clicking the checkmark to close Free Transform in Photoshop
Clicking the checkmark.

Step 14: Select the Reveal All command

If the cropping border is still visible around your image, it's because the Crop Tool is still active. Press the letter M on your keyboard to quickly switch to the Rectangular Marquee Tool to remove the border.

At this point, we've created the mirrored version of the image, but we can't see it because the mirrored half is sitting off to the side. So here's the fun part. To view the entire effect, go up to the Image menu in the Menu Bar and choose Reveal All:

Choosing the Reveal All command from the Image menu in Photoshop
Going to Image > Reveal All.

The Reveal All command instantly reveals the entire Photoshop canvas, including the hidden areas, giving us our final result.

To fit the entire effect on the screen, choose the Fit on Screen command by pressing Ctrl+0 (Win) / Command+0 (Mac) on your keyboard:

A mirror image effect created in Photoshop
The final mirror image effect.

And there we have it! That's how to mirror an image with Photoshop!

Now take your mirroring skills to the next level with my Flip, Mirror and Rotate Images tutorial that shows you how to make more complex symmetrical designs!

Visit our Photo Effects section for more tutorials. And don't forget, all of our Photoshop tutorials are available to download as PDFs!


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