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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's an example that's going to introduce us to the concepts of working with a displacement map to get more realistic shadows, where those shadows cross any sort of ridged surface, as we have here. And what the displacement map is doing is it's giving this bumpy edge that resembles the ridges in the sand dune. We're also going to see how we can then reflect a shadow, make a copy of the shadow and reflect it. So here is our starting point, and first of all I'm going to apply an Inner and Outer Glow to the U. So I double-click to the right of its name, Outer Glow, and let's increase the Size of that.
Let's say 24 pixels. And I'd like the color of this to be based upon the color in the image, so I'm going to click on the Color box and then just sample some of the color from the sand. And I'm now going to go back to my Blending Options and turn down the Fill Opacity, so that we are just seeing the effect and not the black fill of the letter. I'm now going to go to the Inner Glow and I'm going to use pretty much the same approach here.
We'll use a Size that is the same, 25. That's fine, and then click on the Color box, sample some color from the sand. Now because I'm using a dark color and a lightning blend mode, that's having no effect. So I need to make the blend mode Multiply. So that's the letter. We have an Outer Glow and an Inner Glow applied. And the next thing I'd like to do is apply the displacement map. Now a displacement map is a filter that uses a grayscale version of an image, presumably the image that you're working with.
in this case, the sand dune. It doesn't need to be that but I mean that's going to give you the more predictable results. So we need to make a copy of the sand dune, first of all, and we need to make it in grayscale and then we can now apply this filter. But we want to keep that type live and editable and not rasterized. So first of all, I am going to turn off the letter layer and I'm going to Shift+Click on this vector mask to hide it and then I'm going to come to the Image menu and choose Duplicate.
And in this duplicated copy I'll throw that away and I'll throw that away and I'll come to the Image menu > Mode > Grayscale and it's asking me if I want to rasterize this Smart Object. Yes, I do. Discard. There's my grayscale dune. Now just before I apply this as my displacement map filter, I'm going to up the contrast in this copy. So I'm going to press Command+L or Ctrl+ L to go to my Levels, and I'm going to get my white point slider and bring it towards the middle, and my black point slider and bring it to the middle like so.
And then I'm going to save this and I'm going to save it as displaced_dune. I'm now going to switch back to the document that I was working in before. Turn on my letter layer. I can re-enable my vector mask. Actually I didn't really need to disable it in the first place, but it's done no harm. So now I want to apply that displacement map but I'm going to apply it to a layer mask rather than to the letter itself, and to do this I am going to Command+Click or Ctrl+Click on the layer thumbnail and that will load the selection for that layer.
And then I'm going to come and click on Add Layer Mask. There is my layer mask. Now I'm going to come to my Filter menu and to Distort and then to Displace. How far do we displace this? How jaggedy do we want our edges to be? Now I've done this before, literally minutes ago, and I used 3 pixels for the Vertical and Horizontal Scale. I'm going to use 2 this time. I feel that effect was a bit strong. But the exact amount you use is going to depend upon your own personal taste, the kind of image you're working with, and the resolution of the image that you're working with.
So when I click OK, it asks me to choose the file that I want to use to displace and I'm going to choose the one that we made. And there you can see the bumpiness along those ridges and I'm going to just zoom in and then I'm going to undo that. There's the before. There's the after. Before, after. Okay, so far so good. Now we want to reflect this letter to create a reflected shadow. So I'm going to come and click on the layer thumbnail and press Command+J or Ctrl+J to duplicate that layer.
And I'm now going to rasterize this layer, because this layer just needs to be pixels. It doesn't need to be editable type. So I'll right-click to the right of the layer name and choose Rasterize Type. Then I'll press Command+T or Ctrl+T to transform this. But before I do that, because my image is filling the whole of my screen, I'm going to press Command+Minus just to get a little bit smaller. Now I will flip that over on itself like so, maybe flip it this way, pull it around as if it were putty.
If you want to distort it, grab the right-hand or left-hand edge, holding down your Command or Ctrl key, and then just do with that as you will, and OK to accept that transformation. I'm going to press Return and I don't think I need these effects applied any longer, but I do need another one. So what I'm going to do is double- click to the right of the layer name to go to my Layer Style dialog box, turn those two off, but come and turn a Gradient Overlay on.
And for the Gradient Overlay, I'm going to adjust the Angle to sort of match the angle of the letter itself, and then I want this to be Multiply, and I think I probably want it to Reverse. And then I'm going to dial down the Opacity of that quite dramatically so that we just see a hint of it. So there we have our letter with a displaced glow in this case and then a reflected shadow.
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