Zonja Capalini

Mirror Water

[Update 20090601: Added settings page setup]

Opensim and Second Life have no mirrors. Oracolo Janus found a way to tweak the Windlight parameters of water to get a near-mirror effect, which I’ve been using creatively.

0544 - The changing room 1

(See my “Trompe l’oeil” set in Flickr for more examples)

I published Oracolo’s preset in my Flickr stream to help other people that wanted to try it, but Oracolo’s preset, as I published it, has two problems: 1) not everybody knows how to create an .xml file in Windows, and 2) this only works for Second Life, not for the Opensim-based grids (since it is using the UUID of the image, and this UUID can’t be the same on the Opensim grids). Therefore, I’m writing this step-by-step guide to install and use Oracolo’s original “Still Water” preset. This guide can be used both by Opensim and Second Life users.

Mirror Water – Step-by-step guide

1. Download the following image (the “normal map”) using your browser (Windows: right click on the image and select “Download image”). Rename the downloaded image “Mirror Water” (“Mirror Water.jpg” if you are showing file extensions — if you don’t know what this is, this doesn’t affect you).

Mirror Water

2. Open your Second Life/Opensim client, and upload the image you just downloaded.

3. Now go to World -> Environment Settings -> Environment editor, a panel will appear, press the “Advanced water” button. You’ll get a panel similar to the following one.

Settings tab

4. Press the “New” button. You’ll be asked to enter a name. Enter a name you’ll remember (“Mirror water”, or “Still water”; in the example figure, it’s “StillWater”). Move all the sliders so that they show exactly the values shown in the image.

5. Now select the “Image” tab, and press the “Normal map” image. Select the image you uploaded in step 2 (i.e., “Mirror Water”). Move all the sliders so that they show exactly the same values as in the image.

Image tab

6. Now press the “Save” button.

7. Go to “Edit -> Preferences -> Graphics”, check “Custom”, check all shaders, set “Reflection Detail” to “Everything”.

0603 - Graphics settings

8. You’re done! Your “Advanced water” button (in World -> Environment Settings -> Environment Editor) will show a new preset called “Mirror Water” (or the name you’ve used in step 4). Enjoy!

0540 - Back to work


  1. Thank you Zonja, for sharing this precious piece of knowledge. I was looking for a mirror in SL, now I have it.

    Greetz, Jim

    Comment by Jim Flux | May 26, 2009

  2. wonderful, I’ve been waiting for this for so long…. THANK YOU!!!

    Comment by Eidur Kappler | May 26, 2009

  3. Jim, Eidur: Thanks! :-) All the merit should go to Oracolo Janus, who first informed me of this wonder and created the preset. I’m publishing it because I get a lot of inquiries about it, and many people are not comfortable managing .xml files. :-)

    Comment by Zonja Capalini | May 26, 2009

  4. I am trying to do that.
    Am thrilled.

    Comment by Mikil Tiki | May 31, 2009

  5. /me waves to Mikil

    I realized that the previous method I had published, based on an .xml file, was too difficult for most people :-)

    Comment by Zonja Capalini | May 31, 2009

  6. […] pictures I found the blog posting telling you how to make Linden water into a mirror surface (here https://zonjacapalini.wordpress.com/guides/mirror-water/) – a really amazing […]

    Pingback by Mirror mirror « iheartsl.com Second Life’s largest community blog | June 27, 2009

  7. thank you so much for sharing…. oh, talented one!!

    Comment by hvx silverstar | June 27, 2009

  8. […] SLED post to discover blog entry which explains how to make the Linden water reflect like a mirror: https://zonjacapalini.wordpress.com/guides/mirror-water/. Was immediately bewitched since Infolit island looks v.v. cool, with all the trees, bays, hills […]

    Pingback by Adventures of Yoshikawa: Retreat, Mirror, Sheep | June 30, 2009

  9. My pleasure hvx :-)

    Comment by Zonja Capalini | June 30, 2009

  10. Finally I followed up my original enquiry for more help and found this here. Thanks so much, this was easy to do.

    Comment by jmb | September 18, 2009

  11. Question..I did all these settings. And the water looks mirror. But how do you make a mirror for your house? I dont quite understand that part of it.

    Comment by Cmdr Misfit | January 6, 2010

  12. Hi Cmdr — you simply cannot. All the shots using this technique are done in the following way: the room is rotated 90 degrees so that one of the walls faces water, and the avatar is also rotated so that it appears to be ‘standing’ in the rotated room. Then the shots are taken from above :-)

    Comment by Zonja Capalini | January 7, 2010

  13. Hi Zonja,

    I read on your blog that read “I found the blog posting telling you how to make Linden water into a mirror surface”. But when I click on that link I didn’t find any information. Can you tell me where to find that blog posting, thanks in advance.

    Comment by Bruce | March 17, 2010

  14. Well it’s that very same post in which you made the comment :-)

    Comment by Zonja Capalini | March 17, 2010

  15. Hi Zpnja,

    Sorry for the confusion. Actually my question is where to find and how to apply a “Liden Water” surface to something that I had made. Thanks in advance.

    Comment by bruce | March 17, 2010

  16. Oh, I see. You simply can’t apply water to a surface. The first shots you see here uses the following trick: the mirror *is* water, the avie is rotated, and the photo is taken “from above”. You can only count on “real” water giving you a mirror effect, and you have to adapt the rest of the photo accordingly.

    Comment by Zonja Capalini | March 17, 2010

  17. So, in other words…. you build a room “around” the water, rotating it for whatever the circumstances of the picture are?

    Comment by Gala Caproni | September 3, 2010

  18. Exactly. In optical terms, I build the real room, rotated so that the “mirror” (which is nothing more than water) faces down (obviously, since that has to be water :)); then the virtual room is a reflection of the real room (as it should be, produced by the reflection in the water).

    There’s another way to create reflections in SL, but it’s still more involved: you have to use two avatars and poses which are symmetrical, like in http://www.flickr.com/photos/zonja/2300035117/in/set-72157604137306864/ — here’s a video using this technique: http://www.flickr.com/photos/zonja/2525176986/in/set-72157605194470169/

    This is more perfect than water reflections (the reflection mechanism of SL is poor, it performs erratically, and some objects flicker or disappear from the reflection), but regretfully it works only for poses, not for animations — unless you’re capable to get symmetrical and synched animations; this should not be difficult to build if you had the original .bvh files, but of course you don’t have them when the anims are commercial :-/

    Comment by Zonja Capalini | September 4, 2010

  19. Tried this. Did not work for me, the slider settings do not get saved, nor does the new image get saved in the in the Env editor. Any ideas. I have made several attempts :(


    Comment by Francine Brandi | October 15, 2010

  20. If you are using Imprudence there seems to be a problem with saving new settings in water. contact me in world i have the setting i can pass you … it works that way.

    Comment by Gala Caproni | October 15, 2010

  21. Thanks for commenting, Gala! I was not aware of this problem in Imprudence myself.

    Comment by Zonja Capalini | October 16, 2010

  22. Welcome…. and anyone who wants the setting is welcome to IM me inworld and I can pass it to them… It seems to work good that way (and saves you some time from going thru the set up yourself). :)

    Comment by Gala Caproni | October 16, 2010

  23. I am using the bog standard LL V1 browser, have sent Gala an IM anyway.

    Comment by Francine Brandi | October 16, 2010

  24. There is a bug in LL’s SL viewer 1 where the advanced water and sky settings are not being saved. The workaround for this, if you can, is to email me at francinebrnd@googlemail.com
    with the following file
    C:\Program Files\SecondLife\app_settings\windlight\water\whatever you called the setting.xml

    e.g. C:\Program Files\SecondLife\app_settings\windlight\water\water_reflect.xml

    This is only a 2kb file so email is np, zipped if u wish.
    The file may be in a slightly differant place.
    I put the file in, start SL and hopefully it will be there.


    Comment by Francine Brandi | October 30, 2010

  25. Thanks for this, it works great, my only issue is that the reflection looks very pixelly, but the avi on top of the water is very sharp, is this something I’m doing wrong ? my settings are the same as yours. Thanks.

    Comment by Gemini | November 3, 2010

  26. Thank you :-) Afaik there’s nothing to do about that. Reflections are not perfect in SL — I assume this is by design. You’ll also notice that in certain circumstances some reflected objects flickr in and out of existence in the reflection; this is bad design, but it doesn’t seem that they are going to fix it.

    Comment by Zonja Capalini | November 3, 2010

  27. […] this super nifty tutorial for making reflective water in Second Life. I followed the directions posted here by Zonja Capalini, and wonder of all wonders- it […]

    Pingback by How to Make Mirror Water | Whiskey Shots | April 11, 2012

  28. WOOT! i followed the instructions in Inworldz and this is the result. http://www.flickr.com/photos/wizzy_gynoid/6920476650/in/photostream

    Comment by Wizard Gynoid (@wizardgynoid) | April 11, 2012

  29. Yay! Cool that it worked for you :)

    Comment by Zonja Capalini | April 11, 2012

  30. […] night, Chestnut Rau led me, by way of Whiskey Day to a year-old post from Zonja Capalini on using Linden Water as a mirror. As old as the post may be, it has considerable relevance given how LL and TPVs are striving to […]

    Pingback by Mirror, mirror… | Living in the Modem World | April 11, 2012

  31. […] with Gogo from JuicyBomb and she passed me a windlight setting she made based on a tutorial by Zonja Capalini.  The interface has changed since then, so I will show you what the settings look like […]

    Pingback by Mirror, Mirror on the Floor | Its Only Fashion | June 16, 2012

  32. […] to Make a Working Mirror in Second Life @ NWN (not the one I followed, but I liked the video) Mirror Water by Zonja Capalini (this is a good one, with more step-by-step […]

    Pingback by Vintage Denim — JUICYBOMB Second Life Fashion Blog | June 28, 2012

  33. […] Mirror Water « Zonja Capalini […]

    Pingback by PI (weekly) « PI en Second Life | July 8, 2012

  34. […] Mirror Water « Zonja Capalini […]

    Pingback by Alusión (weekly) | Alusión…Llamada Virtual | July 8, 2012

  35. […] using this mirror water effect and I thought I’d try it out. A friend directed me to this site where Zonja Capalini gives a very simple guide on how to create the effect in […]

    Pingback by Simplicity | Virtually Vanilla | July 20, 2012

  36. […] Zonja Capalini – This is the one Mr. Jefferson sent to me, it has all the info on it and the file that you need. […]

    Pingback by Mirror Mirror | StrawberrySingh.com | August 11, 2012

  37. […] Singh‘s site along with the instructions on creating the mirror water in Second Life on Miss Zonja Capalini‘s site. Thank you […]

    Pingback by Mirror Me. | Iridescent Rainbows | August 21, 2012

  38. […] I followed this tutorial and the result was impressive. Of course, you NEED water to make it work out, because the only thing […]

    Pingback by Mirror, Mirror « Through Salamander's eyes | January 26, 2013

  39. […] have been dying to use the mirror effect with water and just found the perfect outfit to take a picture of it with thanks to the M & M […]

    Pingback by Nice and Wet | FreebieHunting | February 26, 2013

  40. […] The “Mirror Island” is curious – when I saw it on the list, I assumed it was a “mirror” of the Welcome Area  – possibly sent-up to test teleports / in case the Welcome Area gets a little crowded. But no. Teleporting to the island brings you to something rarely (if ever?) seen in OpenSim / SL … a functional mirror which doesm’t rely on tweaking the water and up-ending everything. […]

    Pingback by Pixieviewer Updated | Living in the Modem World | April 4, 2013

  41. […] brains and willing to share. I just discovered on the blog of Strawberry Singh and on the blog of Zonja Capalini how to make my own water preset and reflections, love it !  More to learn about Windlight […]

    Pingback by Reflections | Pixi Late | May 9, 2013

  42. we have that down, it s so very cool! is there a way to make a standing mirror using that effect?

    Comment by kyrikastng | December 19, 2013

  43. […] Janus and documented (as his blog is now no longer available due to the closure of My Opera) by Zonja Capalini. I found Zonja’s tutorial through Inara Pey, who had often used it in the past to great […]

    Pingback by Mirror effects through Firestorm | Mona Eberhardt | March 25, 2014

  44. […] Capalini posted an article on using linden water as an avatar mirror as far back as […]

    Pingback by Reflections on a prim: a potential way to create mirrors in SL | Living in the Modem World | August 6, 2014

  45. […] blog is now no longer available, due to the closure of My Opera) was first documented by Zonja Capalini, whose tutorial I found through Inara Pey, who had used it to great effect in her own photography […]

    Pingback by Let’s talk shinies | Mona Eberhardt | October 25, 2014

  46. I know this post is a gazillion years old, but thank you so much for this!

    Comment by AJ | February 28, 2018

  47. You’re very welcome :) It’s great that after so much time has passed this article still helps people like you…

    Comment by Zonja Capalini | February 28, 2018

  48. Just saw this fossil xD
    Any updates to the procedure for new FS EEP viewers?
    Thanks so much ❤

    Comment by Xartashah | December 17, 2020

  49. Sorry, I seldom log in any more, and I’m not up to date with the latest viewers… :/

    Comment by Zonja Capalini | December 20, 2020

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