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Customizing a drop shadow

From: Photoshop for Designers: Layer Effects

Video: Customizing a drop shadow

Now I know you're here to learn Photoshop but you can't use Photoshop without using a little bit of Illustrator as well, and we're going to make a brief foray into Illustrator. I'm going to create this as a 3D letter in Illustrator and then we'll see how we can bring in the separate parts and work with them independently as Smart Objects and apply different effects to those Smart Objects, then put the two parts together, then create a shadow from that and then further customize that shadow.

Customizing a drop shadow

Now I know you're here to learn Photoshop but you can't use Photoshop without using a little bit of Illustrator as well, and we're going to make a brief foray into Illustrator. I'm going to create this as a 3D letter in Illustrator and then we'll see how we can bring in the separate parts and work with them independently as Smart Objects and apply different effects to those Smart Objects, then put the two parts together, then create a shadow from that and then further customize that shadow.

So our staring point in Photoshop is nothing but a black square. We're actually going to begin this process in Illustrator with nothing more than a single letter. it's a Gill Sans Bold O in a light gray color. I'm going to zoom in on this a little bit and I'm going to select it and then we're going to go to Effect > 3D > Extrude & Bevel. Let's turn on my preview. And that's pretty much what I want. Very simple, straightforward.

So I'm going to click OK to that. Now I need to break this apart. So I'm going to come to the Object menu and Expand Appearance and that is going to give me editable vectors. That's good, because what I want to do is I want to separate the surface of the O from its extruded shadow. So I'm going to click just in the surface and then I'm going to create a new layer using my Layers panel, and I'm going to move that to the top layer so it's off by itself and then with what remains, I'm going to select all of that and you can see that I've got various different bits here.

This still needs simplifying. There's way too much detail here, way more than we need. So I'm going to select all of these things and then come to my Window menu and my Pathfinde panel where I'm going to unite them as one. So it's all now just a flat color in there. So our 3D shape is made up now just of two separate objects and I'm going to select these one by one. First the O, I'm going to copy it, switch over to Photoshop where I'm going to paste it.

Command+V or Ctrl+V. And I'm going to paste it as a Smart Object. I'm going to leave that right there, press Return, and then I'm going to go back to Illustrator where I'm going to select the shadow, copy, move back to Photoshop, and I'll paste it as a Smart Object. I'll press Return. I'll change the order of my layers, and I might need to just reposition things slightly. But they should align, and indeed they do.

The reason we made them separate is so that we can apply effects to them independently. For the shadow, what I'd like to do is apply a Gradient Overlay. So I'm going to come to Gradient Overlay and that's pretty much what I want. I don't really want anything more than that. So I'm just going to click OK to that. Now, for the surface of the O what I want is a Bevel and Emboss. So I'm going to double-click on that. Bevel and Emboss, I'm going to increase the Size of the bevel.

But what I don't want to get is I don't want to get any shadows. I just want the highlights from the bevel. So I'm going to reduce the Opacity of the Shadow and let's crank up the Opacity for the Highlight mode. So we really make those beveled edges shine and we may even change the mode to Linear Dodge, which will make them shine a little bit more. Now what I'm going to do is select both of those and I'm going to make them into one Smart Object.

Now, I can work on this as just one object. So I'm going to press Command+T to go to Free Transform, hold down my Shift key, and then drag this up into position somewhere around here. Now, if you've ever seen a poster by the famous artist Man Ray that he did for the London Underground in the 1930s, you will start to perhaps recognize where I'm doing with this, because what I'm doing here is very much inspired by that, so I should give the nod to Man Ray. Now, what I'm going to do is I'm going to apply a shadow to it.

Double-click to the right of the layer name, add a Drop Shadow, and I want the Drop Shadow to be white, so let's go and change the color. I'm going to change the blend mode to Normal and now I can just drag this down where we want it. But we can't quite get it exactly where we want it. So I'm just going to dump it right there and maybe we'll increase the size of the shadow a little bit. But just for a bit more flexibility, I might now want to come and right-click on the fx badge. Choose Create Layer, which will separate the shadow from its layer.

I can now come and select that shadow and I perhaps want to distort it a little bit. So I'm going to press Command+T or Ctrl+T and Command or Ctrl and just drag from these handles to distort the shadow independently of its object and perhaps I also want to apply a little bit more blurring to it. So I'm going to come to the Filter menu > Blur > Gaussian Blur, and just up that a little bit more.

So there we have our customized Drop Shadow derived from a vector Smart Object, which itself is a collection of two separate vector Smart Objects which were derived from a 3D letter created in Illustrator. Phew! That was a long way around, wasn't it? But worth it I think.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for Photoshop for Designers: Layer Effects
Photoshop for Designers: Layer Effects

60 video lessons · 18258 viewers

Nigel French
Author

 
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 1m 41s
    1. Welcome
      1m 3s
    2. Using the exercise files
      38s
  2. 13m 22s
    1. What are layer effects?
      3m 9s
    2. Using the Layer Style dialog box
      2m 25s
    3. Moving, copying and removing layer effects
      2m 20s
    4. Working with preset styles
      5m 28s
  3. 29m 46s
    1. Shadow effects 1: Drop Shadow
      7m 11s
    2. Shadow effects 2: Inner Shadow
      1m 2s
    3. Glow effects 1: Outer Glow
      3m 41s
    4. Glow effects 2: Inner Glow
      1m 35s
    5. Bevel and Emboss effect 1: Structure
      2m 9s
    6. Bevel and Emboss effect 2: Shading
      2m 46s
    7. Bevel and Emboss effect 3: Contour
      1m 44s
    8. Bevel and Emboss effect 4: Texture
      1m 29s
    9. Overlay and stroke effects 1: Satin
      1m 1s
    10. Overlay and stroke effects 2: Color Overlay
      1m 27s
    11. Overlay and stroke effects 3: Gradient Overlay
      1m 58s
    12. Overlay and stroke effects 4: Pattern Overlay
      1m 43s
    13. Overlay and stroke effects 5: Stroke
      2m 0s
  4. 25m 37s
    1. Blending modes
      2m 55s
    2. General opacity vs. fill opacity
      1m 16s
    3. Creating a knockout layer
      2m 37s
    4. Blending interior effects
      1m 35s
    5. Blending clipped layers as a group
      1m 18s
    6. Transparency Shapes Layers
      2m 34s
    7. Converting a layer style to image layers
      1m 45s
    8. Blending with the Layer Mask and Vector Mask Hide effects
      1m 56s
    9. Using the Blend If blending option
      3m 53s
    10. Working with contours
      5m 48s
  5. 29m 22s
    1. Placing multiple files as Smart Objects into the type poster
      1m 29s
    2. Creating offset outlines with Drop Shadow, Inner Shadow, and Fill Opacity
      6m 19s
    3. Using Fill Opacity to create "ghost" text
      2m 19s
    4. Creating live (editable) blurred type with Drop Shadow
      1m 56s
    5. Creating an extruded shadow
      4m 42s
    6. Customizing a drop shadow
      5m 53s
    7. Reflecting a shadow and applying a displacement map
      6m 44s
  6. 28m 56s
    1. Inflating type by softening a smooth bevel
      3m 7s
    2. Creating a chiseled bevel
      6m 14s
    3. Embossing a stroke
      2m 31s
    4. Creating a soft bevel and customizing the contour of the inner shadow
      5m 20s
    5. Combining a smooth bevel with transparency effects
      2m 34s
    6. Embossing the contour of a bevel and adding an outer bevel with texture
      4m 13s
    7. Set in stone: Customizing a bevel with diffused light
      2m 22s
    8. Creating an embossed stamp
      2m 35s
  7. 19m 45s
    1. Working with texture: Pattern Overlay or Layer Mask?
      6m 25s
    2. Creating depth with Pattern Overlay and Inner Shadow
      1m 23s
    3. Creating and applying a custom pattern
      5m 57s
    4. Layer effects and Smart Objects 1
      1m 21s
    5. Layer effects and Smart Objects 2
      4m 39s
  8. 26m 7s
    1. Using Inner Glow to create interior shapes and neon
      7m 6s
    2. Choking an Inner Glow effect to create inline effects
      2m 4s
    3. Adapting an Inner Glow using the Contour, Range, and Jitter controls
      1m 30s
    4. Creating a stencil effect with Outer Glow and Shallow Knockout
      7m 41s
    5. Customizing contours to create multiple outlines
      2m 11s
    6. Combining Gradient Overlay and a gradient stroke 1
      1m 51s
    7. Combining Gradient Overlay and a gradient stroke 2
      1m 24s
    8. Using Satin with a custom contour
      2m 20s
  9. 9m 3s
    1. Building a type poster
      4m 26s
    2. Adding paper behind the letters
      4m 19s
    3. Goodbye
      18s

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