Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Shadowing in PSE

There are a lot of different opinions about the “right” way to shadow a digital layout. So, with that in mind, this is one of the ways I shadow in PSE, knowing that there are always more ways to get the job done. If you like trying different shadow options, you might like this method.

Do shadows all come from one direction? Are shadows all the same depth or opacity? I see shadows in varying angles and depths in real life, so I like to try to imagine different light sources and shadow depths for my elements on a page. In PSE it’s difficult to vary some of the settings, because drop shadows are pre-set in PSE to “attach” to the same layer to which the shadow is added. And, most PSE drop shadows are assuming the same light angle.

In order to create a shadow that can be more easily manipulated in PSE, the first thing I do is create a shadow layer below the element I want to shadow. In this example, I am going to shadow the tag with the string attached – and make the string shadow bend in a different direction than the tag!

First, create a layer below your element, and keep that new, blank layer selected. Click control (or click command on a Mac) on the element layer, to get the marching ants around the element. Pick a medium gray for your foreground color, select the paint bucket tool, and click on the element. You have just added a very basic shadow layer underneath your element! If you offset the shadow layer from the element, you will get a nice, crisp shadow. Maybe that’s the effect you want, and you can stop there. 

But if you want the shadow to be a bit more subtle, or to bend, here’s what I do. In this example I am going to separate the string shadow from the tag shadow, so I can bend them separately. By using the lasso tool, I select just the string shadow, click control j (command j) and created a separate string shadow. Going back to the tag shadow layer, I select just the string shadow again, and click delete, so what remains is only the tag shadow. Scoot the string shadow a bit to the left and up a bit, lower the opacity to 70%, change the blending mode to multiply, and it looks pretty good. But I like more subtle shadows, so I also add a blur.  Select filter>blur>Gaussian blur, and then set it to your taste. In my example the blur was 5.8. 

To make the tag shadow “bend” in a different direction, click on the corner of the bounding box of the tag shadow, and pull just the corner down a bit. Apply the same technique as for the string shadow:  lower the opacity to 70%, change the blending mode to multiply, select filter>blur>Gaussian blur, and set the blur to 5.8. You now have a shadow where the string appears to be pulling off the page in one direction, and the tag in another.

There are lots of other ways to bend shadows more, or add multiple shadow layers, but this is a quick, simple, method.

I created this cute little quickpage to share with you, using the custom shadows shown here, and adding some pre-made shadows by Mommyish. Enjoy!

Materials used: 
Pixels & Co. Sweet Sundae kit eyelet by Celeste Knight

1 comment:

Liz said...

Liz, thanks SO much for this tutorial. I'm bookmarking it so I can find it easily. Thank you also for the super cute QP!