Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Tuesday Tutorials - Shadows

I think the majority of digi scrappers will agree that shadows can make or break a page. There is a never-ending journey for many of us to perfect the fine art of shadowing. I'm on the journey myself...somewhere past beginner, but no where near the masters. I do have some tips, tricks, and observations to share, along with some shadow styles for you.

I think it's always helpful to study the masters...study their shadowing and try to replicate what you love about it. The whole purpose to shadowing is to create REALISM, so I think the ultimate master is studying the shadows on a real, physical page...like from a paper scrapbooking gallery.

Let me link you up to some amazing paper galleries where you can just soak in the natural shading and shadowing taking place in the beautifully clustered and layered masterpieces:




Note that the shadows fall in a different direction depending on the photographers's light source. 2dogs obviously has a window or light source to the left of her page, Karola to the right, and Gabrelle's is mostly from the top. Notice how the shadows don't just hit the background, but they play off the other elements on the page as well. Look at the last example--the flower to the bottom left not only has a drop shadow, but there is also an obvious shading taking place on the flower itself from the petals that curl up to the right, blocking some of the sunlight. Notice where the shadows are tiny and where they are bigger, and especially notice that soft lighting gives soft shadows.

Speaking of soft shadows...lighten up! I mean...lighten up your shadows. Shadows that are too dark make your elements look stiff and stagnant. Lightening them up will create a more fluid, graceful feel to them. Example:

This page (above) uses the default shadow. It's a black shadow using a multiply blend mode--which looks awful on this light background paper. Plus, they are all the exact same size and distance from the background--no allowance for real depth. But you say, Krystal, I'd never use the default shadow. I change my depth. So here's another page (below) with the default color and blend setting, but with me changing my distance and/or size.

Improvement? Not so much. That much depth on those stitches looks absolutely ridiculous! And the deeper shadows look even darker and more out of place than the previous example. The key here is to lighten them up and give each element its own depth as appropriate. Oh...and use Linear Burn instead of Multiply. The result is much prettier.

See? BTW, this is one of the pages in my QuickPage set available here.

Here are some links to some tutorials to help you in your pursuit of Shadow Happiness. :)
Megan Turnidge
Peppermint

And before you go, I'd thought I'd share some of my own shadow styles with you. These are not going to work for you 100% of the time...you'll still need to adjust opacity, distance, size, etc. for the perfect shadow, but you can use them as a good starting place. I created these in Photoshop CS3, and they should be compatible with most PSE versions, but no promises. :)


Edit:
One of the things that I love adding to my shadows is an Outer Glow...with similar color as the drop shadows above, set to linear burn. I adjust the size and opacity to create realism and usually have to decrease the opacity of the drop shadow to compensate for this extra layer style. Here's an example where most things have an Outer Glow added
"Cornucopia" by Microferk Designs

48 comments:

  1. Wow, thanks so much!! I love shadow styles, and am always looking to improve my shadowing!!!

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  2. Thank you! Those layouts are beautiful!!!

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  3. Super post and teriffic gift, thank you so much!

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  4. Thank you! What great advice!! I can never make my shadows look just right. Maybe I can now!

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  5. Thanks, Krystal, for the great tutorial. I cringe when I see not my very first layouts, but the ones after I knew you had to add a shadow and I made them all too large and dark.
    Shadow proficiency is definitely a work in progress.

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  6. Thanks a lot, Krystal. Love the post and the super useful freebie. Thanks so much.

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  7. Thank you so so much, this is so useful :)

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  8. Thanks for the link-up, Krystal :)

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  9. Great tutorial, I just got PS CS4 (from PSP) and now I have to relearn how to do shadows! Thanks for the styles!

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  10. Great post! I need to really play around with my shadows. Thanks for the link!

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  11. Beautiful post and thanks so much for the freebie styles. I am experienced on the design end but to be honest shadows in my layouts have only recently become important to me.

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  12. Thank you so much for sharing!

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  13. Just a quick note to let you know that a link to this post will be placed on CraftCrave today [13 Apr 02:00pm GMT]. Thanks, Maria

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  14. Thank you very very much! I definitely can use some help with this!

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  15. Great advice! I too am always working on trying to perfect my shadows. I don't think I will ever be a master. But gotta keep working on it! :)

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  16. Thank you for sharing, I look forward to checking this out!

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  17. Rachel (rach3975)April 14, 2010 at 4:36 AM

    Thanks for the tutorial and styles, Krystal!

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  18. Thank you so much for this post. I want to let you know that I posted a link to your blog in CBH Digital Scrapbooking Freebies, under the Page 4 post on Apr. 14, 2010. Thanks again.

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  19. Krystal, you are a fine instructor and a very talented designer, not to mention a generous and caring lady. Thank you!

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  20. Oh thank you so much. Love the tutorial and I am inspired to play with my shadowing technique some more until I am happy with it.

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  21. Thank you for the great styles & the tips on shadowing!

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  22. Great tips on shadowing, thanks for the styles!

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  23. thank you so much for the tutorial & freebie. shadowing is really tricky and I'm almost always tempted to just do same style for everything :p

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  24. Shadows are my struggle as well. I am never happy with them and try to "steal" every pixel from the masters. I will try your actions and see how they work for me, thank you!

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  25. Thank you so much for the shadow styles. Great tutorial also.

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  26. Krystal, these are FAB! I just tried the curly ribbon style on a curly ribbon and WOW! It really pops. Thank you sooooo much for sharing these! Your rock!!!

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  27. Some really great tips. Thank you!

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  28. Thank You & Sir Scrapalot for sharing this page. I need all the help I can get!!!

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  29. Going to post your blog under MY blog at zoebearsmom.blogspot.com

    Thanks for the helpful tutorial, I can't wait to try the glow thing !

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  30. Thanks for a fantastic tutorial and the free shadow-styles :)
    Using an outer glow is definitely something I'm gonna try out.

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  31. Thank you so much for the informative tutorial and the freebie shadow styles. I can't wait to use them!

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  32. Thank you for these!! I grabbed them from the DST thread xx I love playing with different shadows, these are great!

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  33. Thanks for the styles and yay to someone else who also uses outer glow as a shadow style :)

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  34. Thank you so much for offering these styles for download!

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  35. Thank you, this is a fantastic post, I learned a lot. Informative and invaluable!

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  36. Thank You for all the information & drop shadows!

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