Join Uli Staiger for an in-depth discussion in this video Painting a shadow, part of Photoshop Artist in Action: Uli Staiger's Wasp Attack.
All these objects are photographed separately but they're all photographed on this table. So, what they need now is of course a shadow because there's no shadow in this image so far because the shadow was cut away, so we have to build it. Let's start with the glass. So before we build a shadow for the glass, we have to make clear where the sun is, and is going. And looking at the whole image, you can see that the sun definitely must be somewhere on the right side.
Of course we have light coming from the left side. Do you see these two bright stripes on the coffee machine? But hm, these are not the sun, definitely not because you can see no sun reflection here. Looking at the right side the light is a lot brighter, so this is the main light we have, and it must come some where from the right side. Looking at this reflection, I would say the light is probably on the edge. Maybe outside the edge, and of course we could just imagine the light being here.
What I would like to see, though, is something different. I would like to see the sun inside the image. So we just put the sun on this edge here. It will look that perfect that probably nobody will tell you that you put in a fake sun. So this is exactly we're going to do, we put in a fake sun later. But first we have to make clear that here, on this spot, the sun is going to appear. If it's appearing here, the shadow is going to spread from this direction towards the camera. And this is what we're going to do now, we're going to paint the shadow inside the image.
The shadow layer is supposed to be underneath the glass so I activate the machine layer, save new layer and just take gray color. Gray color you get easily by just clicking on the foreground color and then taking something like this 0 b, 0 a, and 54 for the l, the luminescence. As you can see, R, G, and B. Red, green and blue, are 128, which is exact middle grey. Okay so we have that grey now.
And what we have to do now is to paint it. So we need a brush, we need an opacity of 100%. This is important because if you go over it several times with your brush, you don't want to see the brush strikes. So go to an opacity of 100% if you like your shadow being brighter later, just lower the opacity of the shadow layer. I'll start painting it, just like this. My 155 pixel diameter of the brush is perfect for that, and if I imagine the sun being here, the shadow would do something like this. Just make sure to paint it straight.
And this is about what this shadow is supposed to look like. Okay. Now you might say, that's a great color, but not a shadow. And of course you're right with that. It's not the final shadow, it's just the start for the shadow. But as soon as we put this from normal to multiply, you see, it looks a lot more like a shadow. Of course it's not perfect yet. We have to work on this shadow a lot, but it's very close to a good looking shadow. Looking at it, you'll realize that a shadow usually is well focused, very close to the object of the shadow. It's not very well focused further away from the object like here, or here. So we have to focus the shadow just by using a smaller tip and by erasing this edge here.
So I just take the eraser tool, that's way too big. Make something like this, take a smaller tip, and now I start erasing it. It's not a good idea to work with a layer mask here, because if you erase too much, you might want to put it back again. And if you work with a layer mask you can't put it back again. Because the layer mask just hides your pixels. So this is what I'm going to do. I start like this. Nothing happens. I start like this again. And now you can see that I've focused it a little bit on the edge.
I do this again. And again. And then I go back to a smaller tip to focus it even a little bit more. Now this is pretty close to that what I wanted to do, little bit closer and a little bit smaller tip for exactly that point. Cool that's my shadow. On the right side and I do exactly the same on the left side. It might take you a little while to do that. And if you do it for the first time, it's possible that you have to do it over and over again to really get a nice result. But it's worth it because if you can do this you can draw shadows for every object you want to draw shadows for.
And this is something I use a lot of times because it gives me the freedom to put things wherever I want to put them. A little bit bigger again and then take off this edge here also to make a smooth transition and this looks a lot more like a shadow to me.
- Opening the starting image
- Creating transparency
- Painting a shadow
- Nondestructive brightening techniques
- Inserting and scaling a wasp
- Creating a swarm
- Creating the lighting