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Photoshop is one of the world’s most powerful image editors, and it can be daunting to try to use skillfully. Photoshop CS4 One-on-One: Advanced, the second part of the popular and comprehensive series, follows internationally renowned Photoshop guru Deke McClelland as he dives into the workings of Photoshop. He explores such digital-age wonders as the Levels and Curves commands, edge-detection filters, advanced compositing techniques, vector-based text, the Liquify filter, and Camera Raw. Deke also teaches tried-and-true methods for sharpening details, smoothing over wrinkles and imperfections, and enhancing colors without harming the original image. Exercise files accompany the course.
Recommended prerequisite: Photoshop CS4 One-on-One: Fundamentals.
Download Deke's customized keyboard layouts and color settings for Photoshop from the Exercise Files tab.
In this exercise, we are going to create a cast shadow, behind the words Chief Executive Nephew. So the letters appear to be casting a shadow behind them. This is something that Photoshop does far better than vector-based applications, because it can work in pixels, you can really get a sense of exactly what you are going to get, whereas there is a little guess work involved if you are trying to pull something like this off in the Illustrator or InDesign. And really I have to say both of those applications are pretty unsatisfactory for the kind of effect we are trying to pull off here. You'll get a sense of what I mean, over the course of this exercise, and the next one. I have gone ahead and saved my progress so far as Pixel-text power.psd, appropriately enough of course because we are about to embark on that topic. And here is what I want you to do, go to the Layers palette and select the layer called Chief Executive Nephew to make it active. We are going to use the text to make its own shadow.
So we are going to basically stretch and skew the text, but we want to stretch and skew a clone, or copy or duplicate, or what have you of the text. So we can do all that stretching and skewing using the Free Transform function right here under the Edit menu. Of course, you can invoke Free Transform from the keyboard by pressing Ctrl+T, Command+T on the Mac. If you want to free transform a clone, you add the Alt Key or Option on the Mac. So let me show you what I'm talking about. I'll go ahead and escape out of the menu, and I'll press Ctrl+Alt+T, Command +Option+T on the Mac. That brings up of course my transformation boundary right there with handles and so on. However, it did not create a clone, it looks like we are going to be applying our transformation to the active layer, but that is not true.
As soon as you apply any sort of transformation, you will see a new layer pop up inside the Layers palette. So keep an eye over in the Layers palette. I'm going to drag this top handle upward like so, and Bob is your uncle or Ted is your uncle if you will, we've got a new layer right there inside the Layers palette; a duplicate layer. All right, let's go ahead and finesse our settings. Go up to the Options bar and change the H value to 130, the Width value right there, that should remain 100%. So don't turn on that chain icon, just change the Height value to 130.
Then I want you to make sure the Reference Point matrix right here is black in the center. So we are transforming with respect to the center of this clone text block. Make sure that Delta option is turned off, so that Triangle should be off, and then I want you to change the Y value to 1090 like so, and then the bottoms of both Nephews will line up to each other. All right, the next thing I want to do is I want to skew this text by which I mean slanted. If I hover over this top point, notice that I've got this Up-Down Arrow icon, but if I press-and-hold the Ctrl Key, or the Command Key on the Mac, I switch to a gray arrowhead cursor, and that tells me I'm going to slant.
What I want you to do is I want you to Ctrl+Drag this point over. Actually, I want you to press the Shift Key as well, so that you are constraining the angle of your drag to exactly horizontal. So this is a Ctrl+Shift+Drag or a Command+Shift+Drag on the Mac. Of the top point until the lines to the right-most button on uncle Ted's blue sleeve right here, so this is the button that you want to align to. Now, what I've done is totally messed up the alignment of the letters down below. I don't want that, this represents the right-bottom corner of the background W or the shadow W, and this right here is the bottom-right corner of the foreground W, that's casting the shadow. They need to be in a line with each other. So I'm going to have to zoom out by pressing Ctrl+Minus or Command+Minus a couple of times, and we don't have to zoom out quite that far, let's try something like 44%, let's say. That looks pretty good on my screen, on yours, it's going to be totally different.
Then I'm going to drop-down to this bottom handle right there. Press and hold Ctrl and Shift on the PC or Command and Shift on the Mac, drag this handle over to the right until the bottom corners of the W is aligned with each other. And then go ahead and release your mouse button and then release the keys and now you are ready to apply the transformation by pressing the Enter Key or the Return Key on the Mac. Now, we have a photo-realistic shadow. Do we not? Yes, we do not. We still need more work. So I'm going to go ahead and zoom back in to 58%, which works for my purposes. I'm just trying to make sure that we can see the image, and I want my shadow to be black. So black is currently my background color. If you have been working along with me, it will be for you as well. So you'd press Ctrl+Backspace or Command+Delete to fill the text with that background color.
That's just a standard fill trick. Now, we need the text to be farther back in the stack, and it's not enough to move it by the way in back of Chief Executive Nephew like so, because it's now behind the type and that's great, but it's still in front of uncle Ted and nephew Scott Stevens and that's no good. It needs to be behind all these guys. It should be only over the table, that's it. So let's go ahead and rename this layer Cast Shadow, why don't we? Just so we know what it is. Then I'm going to twirl open the Background Composition, scroll down, and drag Cast Shadow underneath uncle Ted like so, and now we get that effect there, and that's better.
Now, actually it looks pretty good. Let's go ahead and zoom in on these letters a little bit, so that we can see them nice and up close in personal on 100%. Now, it looks pretty darn good. I would suggest we want to raise the text a little bit, just nudge it up. So I'm going to press Ctrl+Up Arrow and that's Command+Up Arrow on the Mac. Only problem is it doesn't look right because the shadow is so sharp, so we need to blur it, using Gaussian Blur of course. We are going to see that, that affects text quite strangely inside of Photoshop, because we still have editable text, and I could still edit the text with the Type tool if I wanted to even though we have this fantastic transformation applied. We don't want to lose that ability. So we are going to have to take advantage of Smart Objects, and then we are going to apply a little bit of layer effect lighting and you'll see all of that transpire in the very next exercise.
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