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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, let's have a look at layer effects in theory. And we're going to be looking at layer effects in practice later on, but for now, let's just get used to the various different options that we have available to us. And we're going to start with the humble Drop Shadow. I'm going to double-click to the right of the layer name to go to the Layer Style panel. Hold down my Spacebar and just move my image to the left of the Layer Style dialog box so we can see the two side by side, and then go to Drop Shadow. Now much of what I say here is going to apply to all of the effects and I won't be repeating myself on the other ones.
So this is going to be longest of these movies. So firstly, let's start out with the blending mode and the color and the opacity. Now we've got various different blending modes. In a nutshell, Darken through to Darker Color is going to give you a darker result. Lighten through to Lighter Color, a lighter result. Overlay through to Hard Mix is going to affect the contrast. Difference through to Divide is going to invert the values in some way, so it will give you a sort of negative type of effect.
And Hue through to Luminosity is going to affect the color. Normal is just going to be flat color and Dissolve will make your edges rough. Never found a use for Dissolve yet in all the years I have been using Photoshop. Maybe one day I will. But anyway, because shadows are intended to be dark, we have Multiply as our blend mode and black as our color. We can change that color if we want to by clicking on the Color box and then just move over to sample a color from the image or just use the color slider here and choose a different color.
But I'm going to sample the color from the image itself, so that we are using the color of the layer to make the color of the shadow. Now if I increase the Size of the shadow and then increase its Distance, we can see it being offset from the layer. I'm going to zoom in on this by pressing Command+Spacebar and clicking a couple of times to make my image bigger. And as much as I like that, I think I'm going to go back to having my shadow be black just so that we can see it a little bit better.
Now in terms of positioning the shadow, we have the Angle and the Distance. If I move this dial all the way over to the right, we get to an Angle of 0 degrees, and then I can move it back in an anticlockwise direction to 180 degrees. Now 0 to 180 degrees and your subject is going to be lit from above. Anything down here,2 0 to -180 degrees, your subject is going to be lit from below.
In combination with this, we also have the Global Light setting. With this checked it's going to ensure that the Angles for Drop Shadow, Inner Shadow, and Bevel and Emboss are all the same. So presumably, that's going to give you a more realistic looking result. But this can be a bit limiting sometimes and also a bit confusing if you're moving one of these and then the angle of your other effects starts to change. So just be aware of that. I'm going to leave it on for now, because I'm only going to be working with the Drop Shadow.
I am going to click OK to that and I just want to show you a couple of other places where you can affect the Global Light, where those checkboxes are turned on. So if I right-click on the fx button right there, Global Light, or I can also come to the Layer menu and down to Layer Style > Global Light. Either of these places, you can change the Angle and also the Altitude. Altitude only applies to Bevel and Emboss.
Let's go and look at some of the other Drop Shadow options. So we've seen the Distance, we've see the Size. As I increase the Size, that's going to soften the shadow. And then we have this Spread. Now if I crank the Spread up, that will harden the shadows. So maybe we want a hard drop shadow, which if I combine this with the blend mode of Normal and an Opacity of 100%, we will make the shadow entirely hard.
I'm not going to do that. I'm going to put that back to 75 and Multiply, and take the Spread down, and now move on to the Quality options. The Contour is quite involved, really there is quite a lot too it, and I will be discussing Contour in a separate movie, but for now I just want to say this. If I click on it, I can edit the Contour. We can use one of these preset contours. It controls the way the light transitions from the opaque of the layer boundary into transparency.
Now if I drag this up, it's going to make my shadow darker and if I drag it down, it's going to make my shadow lighter. Certain contour curves, I'm going to use one of these predefined ones. Sawtooth for example. This can sometimes results in jagged edges to the effect, and if I click OK, you can mitigate that somewhat by checking Anti-aliased. So if I turn on Anti-aliased, we don't see that really doing much if anything.
But let me just go ahead and edit that contour curve again. It's still not doing anything. But should you find yourself with a contour curve that is causing jagged edges to your effect then check the Anti- aliased checkbox. As it says there, it's going to smooth the contour. I am going to put that back to a Linear curve and one more option we have in the Quality area is the Noise. If I put the Noise up, it's going to do just that.
It's going to introduce some sort of random noise into the shadow. It might be useful if you are making indexed color GIFF images for the web and you want to avoid banding in your shadow. So I am going to turn it down for now. That leaves us with one option that relates to our drop shadows and drop shadows only, and it's this one Layer Knocks Out Drop Shadow. It's a very interesting one. So at the moment with Layer Knocks Out Drop Shadow checked and if I uncheck it, it's not having any effect.
And it won't have any effect until I come to my Blending Options and then turn down the Fill Opacity. And I'm just going to reduce the size of my image layer. So what we're seeing there is just the effect behind the image layer, which is now knocking out the shadow. But we could also if we want to turn that off, so that we see just the shadow by itself. And this is quite a versatile thing and can be used to good effect as we'll see later on when we come to work with the type poster.
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