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Photoshop has become an indispensible tool for photographers, designers, and all other creative professionals, as well as students. Photoshop CS4 Essential Training teaches a broad spectrum of core skills that are common to many creative fields: working with layers and selections; adjusting, manipulating, and retouching photos; painting; adding text; automating; preparing files for output; and more. Instructor Jan Kabili demonstrates established techniques as well as those made possible by some of the new features unique to Photoshop CS4. This course is indispensable to those who are new to the application, just learning this version, or expanding their skills. Example files accompany the course.
The most commonly used layer effect is a Drop Shadow. A Drop Shadow can add dimension to an image by making the contents of one layer appear to float above the background. I'd like to show you how to apply and customize a Drop Shadow layer effect, and this movie also makes the point that you can have more than one layer effect on a layer. So I am starting with a layer that already has one effect and that's the Stroke effect here on this photo layer. If I want to add another effect, I can either double-click this layer, which will open the Layer Style dialog box, or I can go to the Effects menu and choose the additional effect from here.
Let me show you what happens when you double click the layer. On the left side I see all of the available styles. You can see that the Stoke layer has already been applied, because it has a checkmark next to it. If I want to add the Drop Shadow to this image, I can just go and add a checkmark next to Drop Shadow here and that applies the Drop Shadow with its default settings. You can see a tiny Drop Shadow already on the image down here. Now, if I want to customize that effect I am going to click on Drop Shadow and that changes the middle column to the Drop Shadow settings.
Often I'll change the color of a Drop Shadow by clicking in this box to open a color picker. And that's because if an object has a color, the shadow that it casts usually has a tint of that color too. But in this case, I am just dealing with a flat image. So I don't have to bother changing the color of the shadow. I can change the Opacity of the shadow. I will do that in just a minute, after you can see the shadow better. I am going to come down and change the spread of the shadow, which affects its size, and you can start to see the shadow poking out from under the photo.
And then I will drag the Size slider, which makes the shadow softer. So now you can really see it. Now I am going to lower its opacity to blend it in with the background. So it's not so strong. If I drag the Distance slider to the right, it makes the photo look like it's floating higher above the background. I can also change the angle here. So if I click-and-drag on this wheel, I can make the shadow look like the light is coming from the other side. So I can change the distance and the angle from these sliders but another way to do the same thing is just to come into the image and click-and-drag.
And that will move the shadow wherever I want it. I can do this while the Layer Style dialog box is open, but not after it's closed. Effects also have contour settings. If I click here, you can see the various preset contours. And what these do is change the shape of the effect. So if I were to try out one of these other ones, you can see the shadow change dramatically. I'll just stick with the initial one, but I wanted to show you those. When I'm done customizing this Drop Shadow, I will click OK.
If you now look at the Layers panel, you'll see that I have in addition to my Stroke effect, a Drop Shadow, and I can always go back in and tweak either of these. So if I double-click the photo layer, it will reopen the Layer Style dialog box. I am actually going to move that over to the right, so I can see the photo more. I'm going to click on Drop Shadow, and I am going to change this photo. I'm going to lower the size, so it's not so spread out, and then I'm going to click inside the image. And I'm going to drag the shadow down a bit, so it's only coming off one side.
And I also decrease the spread. When I am done, I will click OK and I am satisfied with that Drop Shadow. Try using a Drop Shadow on your own images when you want the entire contents of a layer to appear to hover over the background. A Drop Shadow can add interest to an otherwise flat composition and make your work look more realistic.
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