Saturday, July 3, 2010

Saturday School - Another Shadowing Technique

Happy Saturday! It's Kate here to show you another technique to make realistic drop shadows in Photoshop. If you missed the post on basic dropshadow techniques, just rewind to last Saturday and catch up before we start today's tutorial. Ready? Okay, this is what my layout looked like when I finished up last week...

Now I'd like to focus on the circle element on the left and it's shadow. What do you see?

The circle element's shadow is falling on the background paper, a ribbon that's layered onto the background paper and a paper mat that's layered over the ribbon. If the layout were made from real bits of paper and ribbon, the shadow would fall differently on all three layers, but it looks exactly the same. We're going to fix that.

The first thing we need to do is to separate the shadow from the element. To do that, highlight the layer and right click on the 'fx' symbol. Then choose 'create layer' from the menu (almost all the way at the bottom). Next duplicate the shadow layer twice. We now have the element and three drop shadows. You'll notice that the drop shadow looks much darker. That's okay for now. 

Now we're going to hide two of the shadow layers and erase the portions of the third that fall on the ribbon and paper mat. Ctrl-click on the box on the layer that has the frame to select it. You should see the 'marching ants' around the frame. Making sure that the shadow layer is selected, click 'delete' on the keyboard to erase the portion of the shadow falling on the paper mat. Repeating the process with the ribbon, our layout looks like this -

Now we're going to select the second shadow layer and move it slightly in the direction of the light, then erase the portion of the shadow falling on the background paper and the paper mat. We'll repeat the process with the third shadow layer, moving it closer to the light than the second shadow and erasing everything except the part of the shadow falling on the paper mat. Now the shadow looks much more realistic with the bigger shadow falling on the surface that is farthest away from it.

If you want to get look that's a bit more realistic, then make each drop shadow separately instead of simply duplicating the one and moving it. You can also adjust the darkness of the shadow - a closer shadow will usually be darker than one falling on a surface further away. This is what it looks like after I adjusted the middle shadow to an opacity of 84% and the bottom shadow to 47%.

The shadow looks even more realistic now. There are many other ways you can adjust drop shadows to achieve different effects... but they're the subject for another day. Thanks for stopping by and have a great Saturday!


Anonymous,  July 3, 2010 at 10:36 AM  

Just a quick note to let you know that a link to this post will be placed on CraftCrave today [03 Jul 12:00pm GMT]. Thanks, Maria

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As a creative team member for several digital scrapbook designers, I have received their products for free in return for creating and posting projects (digital layouts, hybrids projects, etc). Many of the layouts you see here were done in conjunction with requirements for these creative teams. Please be advised that the products used were indeed received for free.

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