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For the first installment of Photoshop for Designers, Nigel French shows how to create editable, non-destructive effects such as shadows, glows, and bevels with layer effects in Photoshop. The course covers the use of layer effects like Drop Shadow, Inner Shadow, Bevel and Emboss, and Gradient Overlay, as well as how to combine effects with blending modes, transparency, and textures. With these techniques, designers can finesse type and graphics, control light, warp text, and extrude shapes, creating drama and adding depth to their compositions.
Here we have an example which demonstrates what we can't do with a Drop Shadow layer effect, and that is create an extruded shape or shadow. That's what we have here and that extruded shape also has its own color stroke. We are going to see how we can do this manually. It's a very old-school technique, but it's quite effective and relatively straightforward. So firstly here is the nature of the problem. If I want to extrude a shape from this Y-- and of course there are 3D programs that will do this much better than the way I'm going to do it here.
Probably if this were a real world scenario, I would be doing this in Illustrator but since this is about Photoshop let's say that we want to create all of this in Photoshop. It's perfectly possible to create it here. If I turn on my Drop Shadow effect that I've added as a layer style, this is a drop shadow that has a Size of 0, Spread of 0, Normal blend mode, 100% Opacity, i.e. it's a completely sharp drop shadow. But this is the nature of the problem.
We are always going to see this sort of stair stepping from the object itself to its shadow. So instead of doing that, I am going to throw that away. What I am going to do instead is duplicate this letter and then create the extruded shape from a series of duplicates. I am going to duplicate it five times by pressing Command+J or Ctrl+J five times. Then I will move the one that's currently at the bottom to the top just so that we can see what's going on, I am going to fill that with white.
So I make white my foreground color and press Option or Alt and the Backspace/Delete key. I'm now going to select the five copies and with my Move tool I am going to offset them from the white type. I am going to offset them just one pixel to the right by pressing my right arrow one pixel down. Now I will deselect the top one and with the remaining four I am going to go three pixels to the right and three pixels down.
Exactly how far you go is going to depend upon your own personal taste and how big the shape is that you're working with. So one, two, three to the right, one, two, three down, deselect the top one by holding down the Command or Ctrl key and clicking on the layer and then repeat. Three to the right, three down. Deselect the top one, three to the right, three down, and one more time. Now if I turn off the top layer, the next step is I want to select all five layers and merge them into one.
Now when I go and look at the corners we see we have this stair stepping problem, which we are going to fix by using the Polygonal Lasso tool and we are going to fill that selection with black. Black is your foreground color. Option+Delete or Alt+Delete. And repeat that for all of the corners. Now I want to restore this top version of the letter back to being black.
So I've clicked on it. Black is my foreground color. Option or Alt and my Backspace/Delete key. I am going to double-click to the right of the layer name and apply a Stroke to it. I would like that stroke to be white and I want its white to the 4 pixels. Again, the exact size of the stroke is going to vary according to the size of the letter that you're working with. I want that to be on the inside of the letter shape. I'm now going to copy that effect down to my shadow.
Hold down the Option or Alt key, drag fx badge onto that layer, and I'll double-click on the Stroke effect and just reduce its weight to 2 pixels. And there is my effect. I could if I wanted to change the color of the shadow. I think I probably like it as being black. Or I could even go and apply further effects to this shadow independently of the letter. But I am going to quit here where we have the extruded shape and its own stroke and stroke weight applied to it independently of the letter.
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