Thursday, 29 May 2014

digi how to | drop shadow

When I posted last week on how to create the white photo frame, I got a few follow up questions. I will adress them in the coming posts, and I thought I'd start with drop shadow basics today.

Please note: what I write here is accurate for the full version of Photoshop. I haven't worked with PS Elements for seven years, so I dare not say how it works there. There are plenty of tutorials to be found just a Google search away, though, so I hope that is ok.

So doing a basic drop shadow is very easy, but the effect is very powerful. If you have ever looked at a digital page that does not have any drop shadows applied, it will look very flat and off. Even if you don't want to spend lots of time playing and messing with your shadows, just adding a basic shadow will do lots to your page.

So, here we are with the layered Photoshop file of a Project Life page:
 photo ITM_Screenshot_shadow_1.jpg

You can see on the photo frames and paper layers that there is a shadow applied. On the bottom right you see the layer's palette and you can see on the highlighted top layer that there is a small eye with the words "Drop Shadow" under it.

Here's how to add a drop shadow:
1. Double click on the layer you want to add the shadow to (not on the text, that will only highlight the text).

2. A new little window opens up with the layer styles. Tick the very bottom box on the left where it says Drop Shadow.

3. Choose your variables.
For basic paper shadows, these are my choices:
 photo ITM_Screenshot_shadow_2.jpg

Blend mode: Linear burn (colour is a very dark brown)
Opacity: 75%
Angle: 120 degrees
Distance: 8
Spread: 0
Size: 18
Noise: 0%
Tick the box "Layer knocks out Drop Shadow"

4. Click ok. That is it!

So that is what I have found works well for me for paper shadows. Sometimes I have to lower the opacity, or change the colour. This is especially true if the paper under my shadow is very dark.

For other items, such as 3D elements the settings need to be different. A big fabric flower will have a much larger shadow than a vellum paper. But, and here's a life changer, I don't fiddle with that. Why? Other people have done it before me! And they have created short cut solutions for it.

I have purchased drop shadow actions from two designers:
One Little Bird - she also has a really good tutorial (much better than my hack job) on it here.
Gennifer Bursett

I use these action sets all the time. All the time. On all my elements. Sometimes I mess with them after application, sometimes I don't. To be honest, I spend more time on shadows on my "regular" scrap pages than on my Project Life pages.

I also really like the effect that the wave distortion, as is explained in this tutorial on the Lilypad, has on drop shadows. I use that one often, though not on my PL pages.

As always, just give me a shout if you need further explanation or suggestions!

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much for sharing this and for reminding me about the actions. I have never tried actions, but I am all in for learning new things. I wnt to learn how to make digital pages that have a clean look, a few details and that look almost like the "real" paper thing. Now off to bed. Have a nice weekend!