Basic Drop Shadows

Overview: tutorial for creating a good basic drop shadow

- this tutorial was created using Photoshop CS 2 (works fine for Photoshop Elements)
- I'm assuming you have a basic understanding and knowledge of your computer re: files, folders
- you also need a good working knowledge of how to use Photoshop or Photoshop Elements

Drop Shadows

Drop shadows are vital if you want to create a realistic feel digital scrapbook pages, printables, greeting cards or even adding buttons and embellishments to your blog page. Good drop shadows add necessary depth to give an authentic look of realism.

Tip: When buying digital products such as embellishments, stamps, card toppers (printables), sentiments etc.., make sure they don't have drop shadows. Most (good) digital/graphic designers will create their products without them or they should indicate in the description if shadows have been added. You get more creative freedom and control adding your own shadows.

For those of you new to digital art/craft products and digital scrapbooking, adding your own drop shadows is fairly quick and painless in whatever graphics program you are using.

In Photoshop:

  • Choose your embellishment and add it to your layout
  • Make sure you have that element (layer) selected and double click on the layer to bring up the Layer Styles. Alternatively, you can just click the little "fx" button on the very bottom of the Layer palette and choose "Drop Shadow"
  • All you need to do is play around with the settings until you get the kind of shadow you want

One thing I would say about drop shadows is that "less is more".

The idea is that you want to create something that is realistic and has a nice 3d effect with a bit of depth.

You need just a smallish shadow to get that effect. If you take a close look at this sample, you will see what I mean:

This is part of a tag and mesh photo frame. The drop shadow is soft and not very big. This is similar to how it would look if you were sticking these elements on card with glue dots or sticky back tape.

Further Tips & Info.

  • Creating drop shadows in other graphic/image programs such as Paint Shop Pro, Photo Impact and Photo Paint is very similar. If you are unsure how to do it in your particular program, click Help on the menu bar and do a search for "drop shadow" or try a search on Google.
  • Once you know the basics of creating a good drop shadow, save it as Layer Style by clicking "New Style" in the Layer Style dialogue box.
  • Alternatively, you can buy a set of drop shadow layer styles for a very reasonable price. Add them to your digi toolkit as a great time saver! I do recommend that you create your own shadows initially just as a way of getting more familiar and experience with your software.
  • Make sure the colour of your shadows are cool tones. Look at shadows in real life. They are very rarely black and often will be a cool version of the colour around them, generally blues, greens and purples.


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