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    Join Date
    Sep 2008
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    Default The World is Not Flat

    I had a suggestion to do a tutorial on shadows awhile back. Great idea!!!

    If you've been digi scrapping for awhile you can appreciate the difference a good drop shadow can make. But drop shadows are for flat, layered objects to make it feel more like a paper scrapped page. What about those fun fantasy pages? How do you get those shadows to look realistic?

    Don't know what I'm talking about? here's some examples:


    The extraction on this layout just has a drop shadow. It is equivelent to cutting your subject out of the picture with scissors and gluing it to the page.


    In this fun layout I took Jaden and put him in a completely different world. a 3 dimensional world. Check out the shdows under the snail, the legs of Jaden riding the snail, his arms holding the marble. . . everything has shadows and I had to add them all!

    The first thing you need to do is observe shadows in real life. See where they lie, how dark they are, which direction they go compared to your light source. This observing will make your shadows much more realistic.

    First I'll show you how to make what I call a grounded shadow. This is your basic shadow with medium light that is in front of or above the subject. This is the kind of shadowing I used on everything in the above layout.


    Here's Jaden riding the snail without a grounding shadow. You'll see there is some shadow on the underside of his and around his lower leg and foot from the extraction of the actual photo. This is an indicator of where my shadow needs to be on the snail.

    This next part is seriously going to be easier than you think. . .

    Make a new layer Below whatever you're shadowing. in this case right under Jaden. Then set your paint brush to a fairly large size, black, and soft. I painted right under the leg.



    You can use a soft edged eraser to clean up anything you need to and then lower the opacity. Mine is at 50% here. Put it where you think it looks good. You may also want to change the blending mode to multiply. This also allows some color from below to bleed through giving a more realistic look.

    And that's how I do grounding shadows. Easy huh? It can be time consuming on a layout like this, but it makes a world of difference.

    If you have a different angle light source you may need a directional shadow the shape of your subject, like I have in these examples:





    In the first example I added the elephant where a dog was. I needed the shadow to match that of the girl walking him.

    In the second example you can see the light source is the bright moon behind me and my handsome hubby so our shadows would be in front of us. Here's how to do a shadow like that:


    Ctrl click on the layer in the layer pallette that you are shadowing. (this only works on extracted subjects) you should have the running ants around your subject. Make a new layer. With your subject selected fill it with black on the new layer.


    Then go to Edit - Transform - Distort


    move the shadow to the angle you want it.



    If you are making the shadow directly in front of the subject you can go to edit - transform - flip vertically, then line up appropriately.

    Once you have it in a decent spot move the layer under your subject layer. Change the blending mode to multiply and play with the opacity. to get a good looking shadow. In this case I left my shadow with hard edges, but if your light source is softer you may want to use a blurring filter on the shadow as well.

    There you have it! Masterful shadows!

    Here's your challenge: extract a photo and place it in a new place, add a grounding shadow or directional shadow.

    You may need:
    the extraction tutorial if your a bit rusty: June - Cut it Out!
    A fun new background. You can use a scrapkit to put a background together or find a nice scenery on a stock photo site such as www.morguefile.com
    Last edited by GingerScraps; 05-05-2010 at 02:47 AM.


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