Digi shadows

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Posted 4/17/2013 by toadelee in Digital Scrapbooking
 

toadelee
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Posted: 4/17/2013 8:43:19 PM
I think the hardest thing about digi elements is getting the shadows to look real--almost like a traditional layout.

So I thought i'd start a conversation about it.

What are your favorite shadow settings and tricks?

I use PSE9 and i tend to be cautious with my shadows. I never use a black shadow. I usually choose a dark version of the color where my shadow is cast. So if my background is blue, I'll use a very similar but much darker blue.

The opacity setting is automatically 75% but lately I've been turning it down even more from that. Subtly is my safe place.

I looked at some of my first digi layouts & realize I've come a LONG way but there's still room for improvement. I think I need to be a little more bold.

Tell me what you like/dislike about shadows. Am I the only one that obsesses over this?



Angie
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stefdesign
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Posted: 4/17/2013 9:58:16 PM
I really like my shadows to be realistic, but I don't obsess over them... I do always look at the object that I'm shadowing... whether it is an extracted object or person or some other item, and check to see if there's a light source on the object. If so, I make sure my shadows fall on the side away from the light source. When I'm doing simple drop shadows, I rarely do anything fancy like warp or manipulate them, I just don't think anyone really notices. However, if I create a unique shadow layer, then I'm likely to play with it to make it look just right. I also create a lot of shadow work myself, with a soft brush and clipping masks. I have an art background, so I've studied light and shadow for many years, and I do try to create realism.

A couple of examples:

Basic flat-ish shadows, nothing special, just a little dimension:


Fairly straightforward separate shadow layer that agrees with the light source:



Hand brushed shadows:



Technically, you are right Angie, in saying that using black for shadows isn't the best idea- usually a darkened version of the color the shadow is on looks best, but I find myself using black more and more often. (Although never on light colors). I think that's because I tend to use fairly dark colors on my layouts, and black just looks more dramatic. Like you, though, I almost always lower the opacity to less than 75%. With separate (cast) shadows, usually I drop the opacity way down to maybe 40-50%.



debikins
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Posted: 4/18/2013 12:39:03 AM
It's a great topic ANGIE and one that is hard to respond to. Stef is great at her shadow work, but most of us in the scrapping world have had little art instruction. I struggle with my shadows, but I don't obsess per se. I do try to adjust the opacity, the angle, the blurriness, and the color as you talked about. I really have more difficulty with items that I extract and want to stand out rather than have a flat uniform shadow such as you get in PSE. But that takes customizing and well, I'm quite a novice at that still. I think shadowing a digi LO to make it look as 3D as possible is a skill that needs practice.


***KERRY STEWART/Kerry'd Away Designs creative team***
***EDELINE MARTA DESIGNS creative team***
***POLKA DOT PIXELS creative team***
***JEN MARTAKIS guest CT (OCT 2010) ***


I have commitment issues; I edit everything after I post.
Live, Love, Laugh, Learn and Leave a Legacy
I scrap, therefore you know you've been seen.

My Blog: Debi's Dabblings and My Gallery

2012: 103 pages/ 320 photos (Updated 6/30/2012)
2011: 320 pages/1078 photos
2010: 132 pages/ 434 photos
2009: 337 pages/1220 photos

the_carrottop
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Posted: 4/18/2013 9:36:15 AM
For a lot of things, I like to use an angle of 45 degrees ( sometimes, I stick with the default of 120, though...depends on the project). A good range for opacity is somewhere between 25-40 percent, unless I'm working on something that's small, like stitches, where I want the shadows to be more subtle.

Sometimes, I like to use some pre made shadows...Gennifer Bursett has some great ones over at her site...I have them, but haven't used them yet. They look so awesome, so I plan to get 'em installed soon.

I also took a mini class at Big Picture Classes called "Me and My Shadow." It is geared towards the full version of Photoshop, and their are some of the things that there I can't do, but there was enough content that I could still do in PSE. There's a basic shadowing guide in the class materials that I often use as a starting point, to help me get going, and then if I feel the shadows aren't right, I adjust them from there.

Shadowing can be kinda tricky, because I think it helps to know some settings to start with, but then you need to practice and develop an eye for what looks right. I still feel like I have a lot to learn about shadows.

HTH


Lorell
My Blog: Common Sense Scrapbooking


toadelee
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Posted: 4/18/2013 4:36:13 PM
Wow! Thanks for all your input. Maybe I shouldn't say I obsess over shadows but I feel like they have potential to make it or break it.

Stef-there was never any question that you have an art background! It really shows in your layouts. It was so hard to scraplift you but really fun to try. I love that layout that makes me feel like I'm looking inside a box. So fun. You make it all look so easy. Thank you for sharing your work!

Debi-I haven't gotten into extractions yet. That's another thing that can be done well or very poorly. And I haven't been willing or inspired to put the time into learning it...yet. I'm definitely a Pokey Pea!

Lorell-Thanks for your tips too. Really 25-40%? I'm not sure I've gone that low but I'm going to try it out now! I checked out some of those sites you mentioned. I'll have to look into them more...since sadly the digi resources here have diminished so much.

Anyone else have some thoughts to add? It's just a conversation so feel free to jump in.


Angie

stefdesign
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Posted: 4/18/2013 9:28:37 PM
There are 3 types of shadows. Drop shadows, cast shadows, and core shadows. Drop shadows are the little shadows that fall under objects when they are sitting on a surface- like a penny sitting on a table, or a box on the floor.

A cast shadow is caused by an object getting between the light and a surface, casting a shadow on the ground, or upon another object. The size, density, and direction of the shadow depends on the source of light and direction, the size of the object being shadowed, the surface the shadow falls upon, etc.

A core (or form) shadow is the shadow on an object itself. That's what makes objects look 3D. It can be as simple as the darker area on the underside of an egg, or a complex series of shadows in the folds of a velvet dress.

Since shadows are difficult for even the finest artist to master, it's not surprising that digi shadows are also difficult to master. I hope no one feels badly for shadow mistakes... everyone makes them! But just like gravity and other laws of physics, shadowing is based on science as well as art, and although you can take liberties with your shadows, there are natural laws that if followed, will make your digital creations look more realistic. Doing them wrong just fools the eye and confuses people.

I think where some people get into trouble with digi shadows is where they try to use the wrong type of shadow (like using simple drop shadows on 3D objects), or by having their shadows 'disagree'. That is, harsh shadows on a flat-looking object. Or a shadow falling the wrong direction on an object that has an obvious source of light. (I've seen people do this a lot with ribbon, for example). Often things need two types of shadows. Drop AND cast. If you put a glass on the table next to a table lamp, look and see the two shadows: a small drop shadow under the object, and the cast shadow, falling away from the light. Many people forget to add the drop shadow, thinking that all you need is the cast shadow. Once people learn to create separate shadow layers, they often use that technique improperly. In my opinion, the best way to learn is to look how shadows fall in real life. If you like adding digi bows to your layout, try tying a real ribbon bow and lay it on a surface, near a light source. See how the shadows fall. Take a photo of it and study the 'real thing'. There's nothing like real life to help us observe and learn.

Sorry for going on & on!



stefdesign
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Posted: 4/18/2013 9:55:54 PM




Here's an image I create a couple of years ago to show how the direction of a shadow can impact the object itself. Generally, light comes from above. Of course, it doesn't always, but that's how our eyes expect things to be. In the first group of slightly dimensional items, the light source is above and to one side, so the objects look 3D. I kept them all the same green so it would be easier to see the shadows and separate them from the item.

On the lower items, the source of light is on the bottom. So, the objects look like they are embossed into the surface. That's great if that's the effect you want. But if you want that button to look like it's sitting on the surface, best to keep the light on top. Otherwise it looks funny.

The next series shows the same effect-and how the direction of light on a drop shadow can make something look raised or embossed.



The objects are just the same (except I added a third effect on the second example) but the way you place the drop shadow can change the way it looks.



the_carrottop
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Posted: 4/19/2013 12:16:04 PM
OK, Obi Wan, aka Stef (because I do feel like your Padowan Learner right now...)

Are all three types of shadows represented in your examples above? Just asking because I'm a visual learner, and while I mostly get what you're saying, are drop, cast, and core shadows shown here?


Lorell
My Blog: Common Sense Scrapbooking


toadelee
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Posted: 4/19/2013 3:11:25 PM

OK, Obi Wan, aka Stef (because I do feel like your Padowan Learner right now...)


Lorell, this put a smile on my face. I couldn't agree more. Great question! Can I add my own questions?

Can you do all of three types of shadows in PSE?

When I'm pulling up my drop shadow window, the more distance I add, the more it looks like a cast shadow rather than a drop shadow...is that right?

Also, you mention separate shadow layers. How do you do that? Is that an option in PSE? Or does that just mean that you painted it with your mad art skills in a new layer?

So many questions...so much to learn! Thank you Stef for helping us think a little deeper.


Angie

stefdesign
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Posted: 4/19/2013 8:30:46 PM
I wish I could answer your PSE questions, but I'm a PS user, and honestly, I have no idea. I KNOW people somehow create separate shadow layers using PSE, but I really don't know how they do it. I think there are some simple tricks, hopefully someone who knows will pop by and explain it.

I know one way to do it is to isolate the object you want to shadow....(on your layers palette Option click on the actual little image of the layer- or Command click on a Mac) This will select your item. Now, while you have the marching ants, create a new layer. Fill the selected area with your dark shadow color. Deselect. Now, you want to blur that dark shadow layer, because it's got hard edges. So go to Filter> Blur> Gaussian blur, and blur the edges the way you want them. Move the shadow layer underneath the object layer, and using your transform tools, move, distort, skew the shadow until you have it the way you want. I don't believe you have a warp tool in PSE, but there might be work-arounds for that. Pull down the opacity until it looks right, and voila, a cast shadow.



stefdesign
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Posted: 4/19/2013 8:31:45 PM
Oops, forgot to answer Lorell's question, no, only drop shadows are illustrated here. I'll come up with some visual tonight that shows the three types of shadows.

*ETA: actually, since these examples have bevel and emboss, I guess you could say they also include a subtle core shadow and highlight, which gives the button, for example, the slight dimension that it has.



debikins
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Posted: 4/19/2013 8:57:44 PM
You're the best Stef and I got to impress some other digi scrappers with my knowledge about cast shadows, thanks to your explanation.

As for making them in PSE...your explanation was spot on and NO, PSE doesn't have a warp function.

Can't wait to see your other examples.
Debi


***KERRY STEWART/Kerry'd Away Designs creative team***
***EDELINE MARTA DESIGNS creative team***
***POLKA DOT PIXELS creative team***
***JEN MARTAKIS guest CT (OCT 2010) ***


I have commitment issues; I edit everything after I post.
Live, Love, Laugh, Learn and Leave a Legacy
I scrap, therefore you know you've been seen.

My Blog: Debi's Dabblings and My Gallery

2012: 103 pages/ 320 photos (Updated 6/30/2012)
2011: 320 pages/1078 photos
2010: 132 pages/ 434 photos
2009: 337 pages/1220 photos

stefdesign
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Posted: 4/19/2013 9:16:19 PM


Ok, this is just a simple example with a simple shape. I think it's pretty self explanatory: the first image is just the egg shape, next is the shape with a simple drop shadow. Then a cast shadow which I did by simply skewing, stretching and rotating it until it looked right, then dropping the opacity. The last one shows the core shadow (which generally you don't have to worry about because it's already on your image if it's a photo item or rendered item- I'm just pointing out how this shadow makes the object look 3D, and shows where the light is coming from). On this last one, I kept the same cast shadow as before, but created a new drop shadow. But this isn't the same kind of drop shadow as in illustration 2. It's just a very small dark shadow right where the egg touches the surface. It's darker there because the egg is right on the surface. Then I hand brushed a little blended shadow to make the whole effect smooth.
This just demonstrates how just a little work and care can make something go from flat to dimensional, and how the different shadows work together.



the_carrottop
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Posted: 4/19/2013 9:31:53 PM
Actually, Debi, I'm pretty sure I've warped something in PSE...I just have to go back to to the menu bar and look it up.

Thank you, so much, Stef for posting that chart. I'm going to bookmark this for future reference. I really get the difference now, and now I just need lots of practice...that's part of the fun!


Lorell
My Blog: Common Sense Scrapbooking


toadelee
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Posted: 4/19/2013 10:39:27 PM
Wow. Stef, thank you for whipping these examples together so fast! It helps a lot!

Thank you Lorell and Debi for your input.

I don't have any digi scrapper friends in my real world neighborhood so I love to talk about these things with people that understand.


Angie
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debikins
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Posted: 4/21/2013 11:48:41 PM
Lorell I thought I had used WARP before too but I couldn't find it in PSE11.

ANGIE it's nice to have imaginary digitally saavy friends, isn't it?

Debi


***KERRY STEWART/Kerry'd Away Designs creative team***
***EDELINE MARTA DESIGNS creative team***
***POLKA DOT PIXELS creative team***
***JEN MARTAKIS guest CT (OCT 2010) ***


I have commitment issues; I edit everything after I post.
Live, Love, Laugh, Learn and Leave a Legacy
I scrap, therefore you know you've been seen.

My Blog: Debi's Dabblings and My Gallery

2012: 103 pages/ 320 photos (Updated 6/30/2012)
2011: 320 pages/1078 photos
2010: 132 pages/ 434 photos
2009: 337 pages/1220 photos

the_carrottop
Livin' in My Own "Pea-rivate" Idaho

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Loc: Idaho

Posted: 4/23/2013 10:58:59 PM
I have to go back and remember how I did it...it may not have been a warp command exactly...but I do think there's a way to do it. I'll keep looking.

Angie, I always love a good digi-scrapping chat. I know lots of people who do Shutterfly books just using their templates, but I don't know anyone locally who likes digital scrapbooking. Even my friends who like scrapbooking aren't as into it as I am.



Lorell
My Blog: Common Sense Scrapbooking


debikins
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Posted: 4/24/2013 9:55:07 AM
So when are we going to invent that Star Trek transporter technology so we can all scrap together? LOL

I don't have any local friends that share my interest in scrapbooking (paper or digital) so I depend on my imaginary friends to encourage me and give me feedback. It would be awesome to spend a weekend with like-minded hobbyists though.

Debi


***KERRY STEWART/Kerry'd Away Designs creative team***
***EDELINE MARTA DESIGNS creative team***
***POLKA DOT PIXELS creative team***
***JEN MARTAKIS guest CT (OCT 2010) ***


I have commitment issues; I edit everything after I post.
Live, Love, Laugh, Learn and Leave a Legacy
I scrap, therefore you know you've been seen.

My Blog: Debi's Dabblings and My Gallery

2012: 103 pages/ 320 photos (Updated 6/30/2012)
2011: 320 pages/1078 photos
2010: 132 pages/ 434 photos
2009: 337 pages/1220 photos

Gennifer
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Posted: 4/24/2013 10:24:17 AM
You guys just need to come to Utah. We have an organized digital crop every other month (called Digi Night Out) and I'm hosting a crop this weekend with P&Co. The bi-monthly one is about an hour away, but so worth it!



stefdesign
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Posted: 4/24/2013 1:38:07 PM
NOW you tell me, Gen!

Glad to be an imaginary friend- it beats having no friends at all!



toadelee
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Posted: 4/24/2013 3:58:32 PM
Seriously, Gen? Spoiled rotten! (That's just my jealousy coming through.) However, the get togethers wouldn't do me much good since I don't have a laptop. But there is something about being in the same room with people that love the same hobby. I'm glad you take part and even host that.

Debi- imaginary? If I'm imaginary...then so is my housework, right? I think I'll ignore my imaginary housework and scrap instead.



Angie

the_carrottop
Livin' in My Own "Pea-rivate" Idaho

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Posted: 4/24/2013 9:23:04 PM
Someday, Gen...I always want to come, but life keeps getting in the way....


Lorell
My Blog: Common Sense Scrapbooking


debikins
Dabbling in Digi

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Posted: 4/24/2013 10:58:28 PM
Now ANGIE that's the right attitude if you ask me...no one i sgoing to care if my house wasn't perfectly clean, but they might like looking through my scrapbooks when I'm gone...so scrapping SHOULD take priority, right?


***KERRY STEWART/Kerry'd Away Designs creative team***
***EDELINE MARTA DESIGNS creative team***
***POLKA DOT PIXELS creative team***
***JEN MARTAKIS guest CT (OCT 2010) ***


I have commitment issues; I edit everything after I post.
Live, Love, Laugh, Learn and Leave a Legacy
I scrap, therefore you know you've been seen.

My Blog: Debi's Dabblings and My Gallery

2012: 103 pages/ 320 photos (Updated 6/30/2012)
2011: 320 pages/1078 photos
2010: 132 pages/ 434 photos
2009: 337 pages/1220 photos
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