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Making a placed photo look like it came from a Polaroid instant camera, not only adds a bit of retro fun to a design, it also demonstrates how you can vary the width of a stroke applied to an object using effects. Here I have a placed photo of a girl and a horse, and it looks like one of the old Polaroid instant photos because I have a thick stroke at the bottom and a thin stroke on the sides and the top. I accomplished this using Directional Feather. Let see how it's done. So here's my placed photo and I'm going to begin by applying a thick stroke around the photo and make that stroke width match what I want at the bottom of the Polaroid photo.
So in my Stroke panel I'll start by applying a stroke of say 40 pixels, a really thick stroke, and I'll align it to the outside of the frame. Actually that's not even thick enough. Lt's go to 50 pixels. That looks more like it. Then in my Swatches panel I'll target the stroke and I'll change it from 100% black down to something like 7% black, just like tentative gray, something to bring it up off the background so it's not pure white. The next thing I want to do is to go to the Effects panel. I can double double-click on the stroke and apply a Directional Feather.
I'm going to apply 100% Choke to completely hide the feather and give me sharp edges on all the sides. Next I'll click on the Constrain icon to constrain the feather width in all directions. I'll target at the top, I'll hold down the Shift key on my keyboard, and tap the up-arrow key a few times to start pulling in all the sides of the stroke. What I'm trying to do here is to get the top and the sides of the photo to look right. That looks pretty good to me at 30 pixels. Now I'm going to click the chain icon again to unconstrain the feather widths.
I'll click on the Bottom value and change it to zero. So now the bottom of the photo is not directionally feathered, but the top and the sides are. That's why those stroke widths are pulled in. The next thing I want to do is to apply a Drop Shadow behind this. I'll click on Drop Shadow. Ooh, but wait, what's going on here? That doesn't look right. What's happening is the Drop Shadow isn't taking into account the fact that I've applied Directional Feather to the stroke. Fortunately, there is one click solution to this.
I go down to the Options in the Drop Shadow and choose Shadow Honors Other Effects. When I turn that on, I get a shadow that follows the Directional Feather effect. I can change the Distance to zero to put it directly behind the photo, and if I want to I can decrease the opacity and give it a little bit of spread to just make it a little more pronounced along the edges of the photo, maybe say 20%. And a little bit of noise never heard anyone, so 1% noise. Click OK and see what we have.
Sometimes you can create cool effects with an unexpected use of settings. So it pays to look at all the settings you have at your disposal and experiment. In this case we found that by combining Directional Feather and Choke you could simulate a stroke that varies in width around a rectangle. We also saw how to make a Drop Shadow that takes into account the Directional Feather and Choke by selecting Shadow Honors Other Effects in Drop Shadow settings. All in all, it makes for one pretty picture.
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