Drop shadow tutorial:
As some of you may know I am a Photoshop digi scrap tutorial contributor for Australia and New Zealand’s leading scrapbook magazine, Scrapbooking Memories. Seeing as you are such gorgeous people I thought I would share a little snippet of the latest tutorial – which is out right now (Vol 12 no 4) – most of you already know the following but others might need a little jig! I am also – well used to be – a pencil and watercolour artist, so have studied shadows a little bit too.
Follow these and you WILL achieve very real shadows. Probably most of you have done a traditional scrapbook page. If you get one of them out and study it carefully, you will notice quite a lot that you may not already do in your digi pages. Some of you of course make digi pages look so real that you need to show me a thing or two!!! So here are the general rules:
• If something has been drawn or is part of the background then it must not have any shadow at all – eg. Text, “rub-ons”, stamps, distress brushes or swirls.
• If something has been put onto the background then it must have a shadow to lift it. Which means pretty much everything else!
• If something is close to the background, the shadow will need to be fairly dark, sharp and small. The further away the item, the lighter, more blurred and bigger the shadow.
• The colour of the shadow would ideally be a very dark colour of the background – ie. Blue background=dark blue shadow, red background=dark red shadow, etc. But if you stick to the Photoshop default colour black then you can still achieve very real looking effects.
• All light angles MUST be the same for all elements otherwise it will not look real! Whilst Method 1 takes care of this for you, the other methods don’t. Also, look at the elements and photo you are using and check the light direction in them. You can change the direction in Photoshop and this will change every drop shadow you have put on and will put on.
• Some digital kits come with elements with shadow and without. The problem with these is that the designer has chosen the light direction so it cannot be changed. Also, by default that shadow tone is black. Therefore if you have a few elements with shadow they could all have different light directions and the desired effect will not be achieved. It is always better to use the element without shadow – unless you are just using one or two and the shadows are the same direction!
The following is an example of all the above:
1. No shadow
2. Just a little. Note the darkest shade and quite sharp
3. Raised effect with a lighter shade of black and slightly blurred
3b. Same but green tone – colour picker tool on the green background and then considerably darkened
4. Flying away! And lighter still tone of black with quite a blur on the shadow
4b. Same again with green background again colour picker tool then darkened – alot!
4c. You can see the green shadow against the white background to see the effect
5. For the more advanced method below.
BASIC DROP SHADOW:
I think probably everyone here knows this basic method of clicking on the fx button at the bottom of the layers palette and adjusting the settings accordingly. If you change the blending modes it will change the colour of the shadow anyway - like "linear burn".
ADVANCED DROP SHADOW:
Sometimes you want an item to have some of the shadow further away in parts, for example a frame or leaf, etc. to give the idea of being bent up from the background. There are a couple of ways of doing this. This is the method I find works for me!
With the element layer selected in your layers palette add drop shadow as per the Basic Method above. Don’t worry about the distance bit – just the tone/lightness/darkness, colour and blur– to be honest better to under blur at this stage. Now go to the top of the Photoshop screen and click on LAYER > layer style (you will see at this point that drop shadow is ticked) > create layer (at the bottom of the popup).
A pop up box will appear saying some aspects of the effects cannot be reproduced with layers! This basically means that your copied new layer will be totally black and not contain any detail. So click OK. Now in your layers palette there will be a new layer underneath your element layer saying “layer x’s drop shadow” – click on this. **this is why it is important to name your layers!!** Your shadow is now on its own layer and is the same tone/colour/blur that you originally did. Now you are ready to move your shadow. For example you can select with the marching ants (M on your keyboard) the top half of the shadow, Control T (transform) and just move that or turn it very slightly, then repeat for the bottom half. Your shadow might be very dark and very sharp. To change the lightness you need to go to opacity at the top of the layers palette and change it to suit. To blur you can use the blur tool or the best way is to use a Gaussian blur filter (FILTER>blur>Gaussian blur) and change the settings accordingly. To sharpen the shadow use the Unsharp Mask filter (FILTER>sharpen>unsharp mask) and adjust accordingly.
If you want to do a cluster effect by placing heaps of items on top of eachother you need to adjust your shadows accordingly – remember the further away the element the bigger the shadow.
I hope this has helped – you probably all knew this anyway, but sometimes it is interesting to know how others do it! This method is what works for me. Others might find other methods suit them better!
There is a very advanced level which is far too complicated to talk about here – where you can add 4 or 5 shadows to one thing with different blurriness and different tones. And involves a few element copies too!!!
It all depends on how much time you want to spend on your page I guess!!!!!
This is an example page with quite a bit of shadow work - but the borgainvillia sort of stands out further from the rest. I made a mistake here (on purpose of course!!! LOL!) All shadows are colour burnt green except the extractions in the photo behind the children and the elephant trunk. But, even thought it was a mistake - you can see the difference between black shadows and coloured ones.
All made with "Mumbai Lullaby" kit available here.
So there you go!! Hope this helps a bit!! Now I expect to see perfect shadow pages in the gallery!!