I had a question how to make realistic shadows, and I ended up writing quite a bit about it.. so I thought I would share it here. It's not all inclusive... I'm sure there are many ways to make shadows, but these are just some methods that I use. XOXO, Susie
.. I play around with shadows and experiment... but there are a few tips I can share: Firstly, a great tut by Miss Beehaving http://www.scrapbookgraphics.com/2010/04/missbehaving-shadows-part-i/ (she also has many other great tuts in that same section).
Secondly, one thing I do on almost every element I want to shadow is: (this is the cupcake photo I sent)
1. Duplicate the element you want to shadow
2. Place that copy UNDER/BEHIND the original element
3. Image>Adjustments>hue/saturation, use the lightness slider, all the way to the left to make the image dark (black)
4. Edit>Transform>skew, distort, warp, (these you can experiment with to make the shape and desired shadow you want)
5. Gaussian Blur to soften the shadow, and opacity to make the shadow not so dark.
Another tip is when you used drop shadows, you can make the shadows other colors than black or grey. That sometimes gives the layout a nice shadow 3D feel but not too overpowering with dark shadows.. It's good for light colored or pastel or baby colors. For instance, when you are making a layout with the colors lilac, white, pink, and soft green... you can use a darkish purple shade for the shadow... it's fun to play and experiment with different shades.
Lastly, some shadows are trickier than others... the shadow for under the table and the chair I had to paint, and make from scratch: (this is the pic of the table and chair I sent)
I made a new layer, placed it in front/top of the table... then got my paintbrush, used a basic setting, and painted a shape I thought would fit under the table for a good shadow. Then I used Gaussian blur, and opacity. I then went back over the shadow with a soft eraser, erased the parts I didn't think needed a shadow.. like the front part of the table legs. I did have to erase some of the shadow shape to make it look more realistic. Also, you can play with skew and distort and warp with these hand painted layers.
I did the same thing for the chair's underneath shadow... but for the chair's back shadow, I used the method used on the cupcake where I duplicated the layer and made the black shape into the shadow... played with skew and distort; gaussian blur, and opacity.
It all sounds complicated... but starts coming more naturally as you do it..
Feel free to add any more tips for shadowing in your comments.