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Newbie Notes: Custom Shadows

July 29, 2010

Drop Shadows (DS) are wonderful things. They add needed dimension and life to our designs. And you can do a lot to make them more realistic by playing with the sliders for angle, opacity and contour, etc. But even tweaking the defaults on the fx menus will only take you so far.

I have been trying to really observe how shadows fall in real life, and how you often have a double shadow, parts with soft, blurry edges and parts with hard edges. You can produce these edges in your graphics program. Also pay attention to the colour of the shadow. Not all shadows are grey. Some designers create very artistic effects with their shadows. Mine are a WIP  😉 but I do like to play with them.

An easy way to breathe new vigour into your DS is this:

Add DS as normal. Don’t worry about tweaking any of the sliders.

Now Right Click on where it says Drop Shadow under your object on your Layers Palette.

Choose Create Layer from the menu. The DS will appear on its own layer below your object.

Select the new layer and start playing! Change the opacity, the colour, apply Gaussian Blur and move the shadow to see the different effects it gives you. But then try changing the whole shape of the DS by going to Edit>Transform>Skew or Edit>Transform>Perspective.

Now the fun really starts…

(Don’t neglect to link your new custom DS to your object if you want to move it around or you will end up with the Peter Pan Effect.)

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