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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.
Okay, we are going to have a look at creating offset outlines working with this beautiful C set in Adobe Caslon Pro. We have two approaches here. One is going to enable us to create the whole thing on one layer, completely live type, completely editable. It's going to involve modifying the contour curve of the Drop Shadow and adjusting the Fill Opacity of the layer. The second approach is going to involve duplicating the Drop Shadow and then offsetting it from the original. Then we'll have another hoop to jump through which is going to be putting the two into a group just so the blending modes work out okay.
We'll also be looking at adding in some Inner Shadow just to add a little bit of depth to the whole thing. Here is our starting point. We have three layers. We have the C and we have this background texture and I've adjusted the hue on that background texture. This is working within a 750 pixel square and I've left some transparency around the edges just so that with certain letters, not with this one, but with others we can move into that transparency and have our letters overlap when we come to make the type poster.
Okay, let's apply the Drop Shadow. So I am going to double-click to the right of the layer name and we will click on Shadow. Now, I can adjust the Distance and the Angle or I can just come in and pull it around where I want it to go. And that's about where I want it to go. I think I do want to maybe increase its size a little bit. Oh! By the way, I think we need to go to Multiply blend mode here so that we can see the texture of the background coming through. With this shadow it would be nice if it was sharper than it currently is.
So, to do that, I'm going to whack up the Spread all the way to 100 and that really sharpens up the edges of the shadow. In fact, what we have here is we have no transparency in the shadow or very little. But if I want the shadow to function not as a shadow, but as an offset outline, then I am going to have to modify the contour curve. We have a Linear curve at the moment, so our shadow is, as shadows do, going from opaque to transparent.
I am going to invert that, so it's now going from transparent to opaque and we can see just the trace of the shadow around the edge there. And I am going to click OK. And if we now reduce the Spread value, we will see more of that shadow. Okay. Well, that's all right up to a point, but I want to have more of the opaque pixels in the outlines. So I am going to come back to my Contour Editor once again and go for a more dramatic drop-off here.
So the pixels are opaque all the way along here, all the way to about 80%, and then they suddenly drop off to transparent. So effectively we get this offset black outline. I am also going to add a little bit of Inner Shadow just to give some depth to the whole thing. The subtlety of this may well be lost on the video, but I'm going to do it anyway. If you're following along, you will see that adding just a little bit of Inner Shadow really helps things. I'm pretty happy with how that looks, click OK, and just to hammer home a point here, this is a live and completely editable effect.
So I can just go and change this C to whatever letter I want and it's going to update like so. Let's actually put it back to being C. Now, if we are happy with that then we can stop here, but I'm just going to show you an alternative approach which arguably might yield a better result, but is not going to be quite as convenient, because it is going to involve using two layers as opposed to one. So I am going to duplicate the layer that I have. Command+J or Ctrl+J. And I'll turn off the one that I've already done.
Now, here I am going to come back to my Layer Style dialog box by double-clicking to the right of the layer name and I'm going to turn down the Fill Opacity so that all we now see are the shadows, the Inner Shadow and the Drop Shadow. To do it this way, I no longer need that edited contour. I can just put the contour back as being Linear, so that it now looks like this, which gives me the opportunity of using more Spread to sharpen up that shadow like so.
Maybe I'll even darken it a little bit as well just by increasing the Opacity. All right! Now, what I want to do is make a copy of this layer. Command+J. On the copy, I will turn off the effects, but I will turn up the Fill Opacity. That puts that back to red. And now it's just a question of offsetting one of these two layers from the other. Since I am on this top layer I might as well offset this one. So I am just going to nudge it up a few pixels and nudge it over a few pixels. All right! That's looking great except-- and I know what you're thinking-- we are seeing the shape of one come through the other.
We don't want that to happen. So let's see how we can fix that. Here is how we are going to fix it. I am going to set the blend mode of this top one back to Normal and then we just go back to that flat color. So that solves one problem, but creates another. And we are going to solve that other problem by selecting both of these layers by holding down the Shift key and then pressing Command+G or Ctrl+G to put them into a group. Now, they're in a group. We are going to change the blend mode of the group from Pass Through, which means that all of the blending effects are just being passed on to the layers below, to Multiply so that the blending only happens within the group and then the result is passed on to the layers below, and that solves the problem.
Then we have a very nice- looking offset outline effect.
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