STEPS: Creating a Drop Shadow

1. Select the subject that you want casting the shadow. In my case, I selected the dolphin by painting the mask shown in Figure 12-17 inside a separate mask channel. These days, I add a mask to nearly every image I create to distinguish the foreground image from its background. I converted the mask to a selection outline by Ctrl-clicking on the mask name in the Channels palette and then pressing Ctrl+tilde (~) to switch back to the composite view.

2. Send the image to a separate layer by pressing Ctrl+J. Now that the selection is elevated, you can slip in the drop shadow beneath it.

Figure 12-17: This mask separates the dolphin from its watery home.

3. Retrieve the selection outline for your new layer and apply it to the background layer. To do this, Ctrl-click the new layer name (presumably Layer 1) and then press Shift+Alt+[ to switch to the background layer. (Because I saved the mask to a separate channel, I could have instead Ctrl-clicked on the Mask item in the Channels panel to retrieve the selection. Or I could have pressed Ctrl+Alt+4.)

4. To create a softened drop shadow — indicative of a diffused light source — choose Select ^ Feather (Ctrl+Alt+D). The Radius value you enter depends on the resolution of your image. I recommend dividing the resolution of your image by 20. When working on a 200-ppi image, for example, enter a Radius value of 10. My image is a mere 140 ppi, so I entered 7. Then press Enter to soften the selection.

5. Press Ctrl+J to send the feathered selection to a new layer.

6. Fill the feathered area with black. If necessary, press D to make the foreground color black. Then press Shift+Alt+Backspace to fill only the area inside the transparency mask. A slight halo of dark pixels forms around the edges of the image.

7. Press Ctrl with the arrow keys to nudge the shadow to the desired location. In

Figure 12-18, I nudged the shadow 12 pixels to the right. (Press Ctrl+Shift+arrow key to nudge the shadow in 10-pixel increments.)

8. Lower the Opacity setting. If the shadow is too dark — black lacks a little subtlety — change the Opacity value in the Layers palette to change the opacity of the shadow. Or press M to make sure a selection tool is active and then press a number key to change the opacity. I typically press 7 (for 70 percent), but I'm probably in a rut.

Figure 12-18: I nudged this drop shadow 12 pixels due right from the dolphin head, which is situated on the layer above it.

Tip If you don't like a black drop shadow, you can make a colored one with only slightly more effort. Instead of filling the shadow with black in Step 6, select a different fore jF ground color and press Shift+Alt+Backspace. For the best result, select a color that is the complementary opposite of your background color. Next, choose Multiply from the blend mode pop-up menu in the Layers palette (or press Shift+Alt+M). This burns the colors in the shadow into those in the lower layers to create a darkened mix. Finally, press a number key to specify the opacity.

Photoshop Secrets

Photoshop Secrets

Are You Frustrated Because Your Graphics Are Not Looking Professional? Have You Been Slaving Over Your Projects, But Find Yourself Not Getting What You Want From Your Generic Graphic Software? Well, youre about to learn some of the secrets and tips to enhance your images, photos and other projects that you are trying to create and make look professional.

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