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In Photoshop CS5 Essential Training, author Michael Ninness demonstrates how to produce the highest quality images with fantastic detail in the shortest amount of time, using a combination of Photoshop CS5, Adobe Bridge, and Camera Raw. This course shows the most efficient ways to perform common editing tasks, including noise reduction, shadow and highlight detail recovery, retouching, and combining multiple images. Along the way, Michael shares the secrets of non-destructive editing, utilizing and mastering Adobe Bridge, Camera Raw, layers, adjustment layers, blending modes, layer masks, and much more. Exercise files are included with the course.
In this illustration, I'd like to add a cast shadow to this silhouette. So, it looks like the light is casting a shadow away from him across that background so that background is on a separate layer, and the silhouette is on its own layer. So, let's go ahead and generate a cast shadow. Now I can always do a drop -shadow inside Photoshop. I can do that as a layer effect, but there is no built-in layer effect for creating a cast shadow inside Photoshop. So, I have to do that manually. To do a drop shadow, just to review, you can select the layer that you want to add the drop shadow to, in this case, the Silhouette layer.
Go to the FX icon at the bottom of the Layers panel, and choose Drop Shadow. You can see that it's adding a slight blurry version of this to the image. I can just put my mouse outside the Layer Style dialog box, and I get a Move tool, and I can reposition that shadow exactly where I want it just by clicking and dragging. You will note that the Blend mode of the Drop Shadow effect is, by default, set to Multiply. As a shadow would do in real life, it darkens the area that the shadow is being projected against, or cast against. The default color of a shadow inside the Layer Style dialog box, of course, is Black.
That's not actually always the best color. Sometimes the best color is actually picking up the lighting, or the color of the environment that the shadow is in. So, for instance, if I click on that black color chip and take my mouse and drag it into the area here, and click inside the image and actually choose a different color, like purple or orange or the blue of the actual background, you'll see I get a much more visually pleasing shadow, because it's actually changing across the different backgrounds, as it would in real life, where if it's just a solid black, it doesn't look as real.
So, I'm going to go ahead and hit Cancel. That's how you would do a regular drop shadow. To do a cast shadow, what I'm going to do is just simply duplicate this particular layer. I can do that by doing Command+J or Ctrl+J. It's called Silhouette copy. I'm going to go ahead and change the name of this to Cast Shadow. We'll move that below the Silhouette layer by just dragging it. Now that I have this duplicate layer, we're going to transform it and make it project against the background at an angle. To bring up the Free Transform mode, we'll do Command+T or Ctrl+T. That puts a bounding box around those pixels.
Then I can grab a handle, and start transforming it. Now by default, it's just going to scale it when I grab a handle. I want to scale it in perspective. So, if I hold down the Command key on the Mac or the Ctrl key on Windows, and grab this corner handle again, I can scale it in perspective. So, I can make it seem like it's falling away from the subject matter. There you go. Once you get it in position the way you wanted, you press the Enter key, and that applies that transformation. Now, what we want to do is to actually change the color of this particular drop shadow.
We just learned earlier that black isn't necessarily the best color. We might want to use a color from the actual scene itself. So, I'm going to get my Eyedropper tool. I'm going to press the letter I on my keyboard. I'm going to sample that blue color again, by just clicking on the blue background. That makes it the foreground color. What I want to do is fill the pixels on the Cast Shadow layer with that new color here. So, I'll go to Edit > Fill. We'll choose Foreground Color. We want to turn on Preserve Transparency. What that will do is only color the actual pixels that are on the layer instead of the entire layer. There you have it.
We've got those shadow pixels being the same color as that blue background. Now where it's overlapping the blue background, you don't see that part of the shadow. We'll go ahead and change that though by using the Blending mode. Let's go ahead and get our Move tool. With the Cast Shadow layer chosen, we'll go to the Blend mode list and change it from Normal to Multiply. That's the Blend mode that's going to make your shadows really look great. There you can see it's blending against the blue background and the purple background by darkening both of those areas uniformly, or in the way it needs to, based on the math of those pixels there, those different color values. Okay.
So, we may actually want to finish this off by lowering the opacity of that drop shadow and actually combining the two different types of blending that you have, the Blending mode and the layer Opacity. I still have my Move tool selected. So, with the Cast Shadow layer active in the Layers panel, I'm just going to press the number 7 on my keyboard to change it to 70%. So, it's not as intense. There you can see I've got the shadow falling away from the subject based on a different light source, and a more of a kind of cool effect. Instead of just a drop shadow, it's more of a cast shadow. We're using the Blend mode Multiply and a color from the scene instead of just solid black to get a much more realistic looking shadow.
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