Using Basic Shadowing in PSE

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When I first started digital scrapbooking, I had this software that couldn’t do shadows.  My layouts always seemed so flat to me, even though I was completely inexperienced at the time with digital scrapbooking.  It just seemed the natural thing to have when doing layouts to me.So, we are going to go over how to create basic drop shadows for your elements in your layouts.  This is going to be the most simple way to cast some shadows. Shadows really add depth to your layout, making elements and photos just pop off the page.  You really just don’t have an amazing layout without shadows.  Every element should have a shadow with a couple of exceptions; brushes and overlays.

Just take some papers from your desk and stack them different ways and you will see slivers of shadows between the papers.  This is the effect you should be creating when doing a layout.

Sometimes you just want an image to just completely jump off the page.  While it may not be ‘realistic’ in the true sense, it still makes for a very interesting layout.  Sometimes you just have to be ‘unrealistic’ and have some fun!

Here are some sample layouts using my Boys and Noise kit.  The first one you can see just slight shadows among the layering.  The second layout you will see my son almost literally jumping off the page!

First, you will need to open up your PSE and select a paper and an element.  I have chosen a few elements here, the same extracted photo of my son (can you see a resemblance to the silhouette and my son?) and one paper so you can see the two types of shadows.

Next, you will need to drag the element from the ‘project bin’ onto your paper in the main screen.  Then place your element where you want it.

Next I am going to start shadowing this element.  There is one thing I should point out here when creating shadows and that is consistency.  All your elements should have the same shadow and going in the same direction.  You don’t want one shadow going left and one going right.  The only time I change up my shadow is when I am popping my son off the page, for example.  The next thing I want to point out is if you have several elements in your layout and you move the shadow around on one element, it changes it for the rest, which is great so you don’t have to change each element

  1.  Click on your element to highlight it in the layers section on the right, if it’s not already highlighted.
  2.  Take your mouse on your element and right click it.  You should see a menu with “edit layer style” highlighted.  It should be the only thing highlighted because it’s the only element on the page.
  3.  Click “edit layer style” and this brings up a pop up window called “style settings.”
  4.  Click the box next to “drop shadow”.

You can see a very slight shadow has appeared on your element.  This is the default setting.  To me, this isn’t enough.  If you like the direction of the shadow you can leave that part alone. But, if you are like me, I like my shadows going left for some odd reason lol.  Don’t ask me why because I don’t even know lol.  If you want to change the direction, you will need to move around the “lighting angle” at the top of the pop up window.  The default here is 120 degrees.  I tend to go more 30 degrees.  Again, this is just a preference.  You can move around your shadow any where you want.

Here you can see I have changed the degree and my shadow has moved to the left bottom corner…just where I like it :).  The next task is to expand on the shadow to make it a bit more visible. I tend to expand probably more than necessary, but just play around with it to see what you like.  I will start with my size at 30, distance at 20 and opacity at 50.  The bigger your size, the more fuzzy the shadows edges get.  The higher the distance, the farther away the shadow appears from the element.  The default setting of 75 opacity is always too dark for me, so I reduce it to 50.  Again, this is your preference.

Now you see my shadow is more visible but not jumping off the page.  This is the way I want “paper” looking elements to appear.  Now to add other elements.  To reiterate, you want to keep the same direction, size, distance, etc. with all elements.  But, that’s with one layout.  Change it up per layout if you wish.  You will note while playing with shadows that they appear stronger using white or lighter papers.  So, your shadows won’t need to be so strong.

I have added all my elements here with the same shadow going in the same direction.  Next is to make my son pop off the page using the shadow tool.  Remember the distance slider in the shadow tool window?  That is the one you are going to be using the most here.  So, you are going to follow the above steps to create your shadow and now you are going to play with the distance and size.  I keep the opacity at 50.  This is just about tinkering the numbers to get it the way you want.  I ended up with size at 75, distance at 200 and opacity at 50.

So you can see now that my son looks like he’s just jumping off the page.

I hope you found my tutorial useful and have fun playing with drop shadows!

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