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Deke's Techniques is a collection of short Photoshop and Illustrator projects and creative effects that can be completed in ten minutes or less. The series is taught by computer graphics guru Deke McClelland, and presented in his signature step-by-step style. The intent is to reveal how various Photoshop and Illustrator features can be combined and leveraged in real-world examples so that they can be applied to creative projects right away.
In this movie, we'll take our wonderfully volumetric cartoon turkey and we will give him a shadow. Now, we are not going to give him a drop shadow because that wouldn't make any darn sense. That would imply that the turkey is this two-dimensional thing that's laying down on a piece of paper. Instead, we are going to give him a cast shadow. However, there is a caveat here. The technique I'm about to demonstrate works only in Photoshop CS6, and that's because CS6 offers the Field Blur filter, which is not available in CS5 and earlier.
With that in mind, I'll go ahead and switch over to the version of the turkey that we created in the previous movie. We have to start things off by loading up a ton of selection outlines. Essentially, we need to surround the entire turkey with one big selection. You'll notice I have gone ahead and organized the layers into groups in some cases, so I am going to twirl open this line art group. And I will start by pressing the Ctrl key or the Command key on a Mac and clicking on the hand layer. That goes ahead and selects the opaque pixels.
Then you want to press both Ctrl+Shift or Command+Shift on the Mac and click on feathers, pretty face, and feet in order to select all the way around the outline. Then you can go ahead and close the line art layer. And next, you want to Ctrl+Shift+Click or Command+Shift+Click on that whities layer, short for tighty whities. You also want to Ctrl+Shift+Click or Command+Shift+Click on the colors layer. And then finally, there's just one more layer here. You have to twirl open the flesh group, if you are working along with me, and then Ctrl+Shift+Click or Command+Shift+Click on the skin layer.
And that goes ahead and selects all the way around the turkey. I am going to twirl that flesh layer closed. Then I will click on that swatches layer to make it active, and I will press Ctrl+Shift+N or Command+Shift+N on the Mac to make a new layer. I will go ahead and call this layer shadow and click OK. Now, we want to fill the selected region of the shadow layer with black, so tap the D key to make sure you've got your default colors and press Alt+Backspace or Option+Delete on a Mac to fill the selection with black. Now, you can press Ctrl+D or Command+D on the Mac to deselect the image.
Now, we are going to want to slant this layer, and slanting is a kind of transformation in Photoshop, and anytime you want to apply transformation, you want to do so nondestructively which means you want a Smart Object. With the shadow layer still selected, go up to Layers panel flyout menu and choose Convert to Smart Object. Next, go up to the Edit menu and choose the Free Transform command, or you can press Ctrl+T or Command+T on the Mac. And then you want to press the Ctrl key or the Command key on the Mac and drag this top handle downward.
And the reason you've got the Ctrl key or the Command key down is because you want to slant the layer, or if you prefer, skew it. Either way. I'm looking at a couple of things here. I am looking at my Height value way up at the top of the screen in the Options bar, and I want it to read about 22%. Then I'm also watching this little heads-up display down here, directly above my cursor, new inside of CS6, and I want to make sure that it reads about 56 degrees. So I am trying to get both of these guys to match up here, because that's all the numbers I have to work with.
Once I get it more or less right, I will go ahead and release my mouse button, and then I will press the Enter key or the Return key on the Mac in order to accept that skewed version of the shadow. Now, I want to blur the shadow. And if you take a look at the final version of the effect, you will see that it's kind of blurry underneath the turkey's feet, but then the shadow becomes progressively more blurry as it declines away from the bird. And that's where the Field Blur filter comes in. I am going to switch back to my image in progress, double-click on the thumbnail for the shadow layer to open up the Smart Object.
If you see the alert message, just click OK. Now, we need to give ourselves additional room to work, because otherwise, we will blur beyond the edges of the canvas, and that means that the effect will end up getting clipped. Go up to the Image menu and choose the Canvas Size command. And then you want to make sure the Relative checkbox is turned on, and change both the Width and Height values to 200 pixels. That will give us the wiggle room we need. Then click OK in order to expand that canvas, so you can see we've got a lot more transparent area around the turkey shadow here.
The problem with Field Blur, any other blur gallery filters is you cannot apply them to Smart Objects. We are going for a static adjustment here, albeit inside of a Smart Object. So, if you've got CS6, go up to the Filter menu, choose Blur, and then choose the very first blur command, Field Blur, to bring up the so called Blur Gallery. You'll see this pin right here. I want you to drag it down to the base of the turkey's feet, and then go ahead and change the Blur value over here in the Blur tools panel to 25 pixels.
Now, we want to add another blur point, so click up here at the top of the central fingertip in order to set another pin and then change the Blur value for this pin to 75 pixels, and we will end up with this effect here. Now, you can go ahead and click the OK button in order to apply the effect of the actual image. And once that operation completes, go ahead and close the Smart Object, then click the Yes button to update it here on a PC. You folks on a Mac, click the Save button. Now, I want to slightly colorize the shadow.
I don't want it to be altogether black. So, with the shadow layer still selected, I'll click on the fx icon at the bottom of the Layers panel and choose the Color Overlay command. Then I'll click on the red color swatch, because obviously I don't want red, and I will change the Hue value to 220. I'll reduce the Saturation value to 50%, and then I will take the Brightness value all the way down to 15%, which gives us a very dark shade of blue indeed. But you can see that it does make a difference. Now, click OK. A blend mode of Normal is fine; an Opacity of 100% is fine as well.
Now, click OK again. Finally, we want to add some translucency at the top of the shadow so that it becomes less opaque as it declines away. We'll do that using layer mask. So, drop down to the Add Layer Mask icon at the bottom of the Layers panel and click on it. Then you want to switch to your Gradient tool. Right now, I've got my Paint Bucket tool showing. So I'll click and hold on it and choose the Gradient tool from the flyout menu. Make sure that black is your foreground color, white is your background color, and that you've got the default settings up here, so we're creating a black-to-white gradient.
I will drag from the top of the shadow down, while pressing the Shift key, like so, in order to make the back portion of that shadow disappear. Now, that's a little bit too much, so I will go ahead and double-click on the layer mask thumbnail. Again, this is a CS6 thing. That brings up the Properties panel. And now I'll reduce the Density value to 50%, and then I'll press the Enter key in order to accept that change. Press the M key to switch back to the Rectangular Marquee tool and type 66 on the keyboard in order to reduce the opacity of this layer to 66%.
We now have a cast shadow on the back of our turkey. And it seemed to me that he needed a little bit of dialogue since his mouth is open, so I am going to go ahead and turn on this other elements group here in order to bring that dialogue up on screen. That, friends, is how you create a cast shadow behind any layered object here inside Photoshop CS6.
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