Creating a 'Drop Shadow'
(Part 1)

Clive R. Haynes FRPS


This section will be in two parts:
Part 1 'Applying a Drop Shadow', followed by
Part 2 - 'Manipulating a Drop Shadow'

Please Note

The information that follows was originated with an older version of Photoshop. The method remains relevant but some allowance must be made for updates in Photoshop such as Tool Bar layouts, changes in icons (Layer Mask icon for example), appearance of Layers, etc. Where there's a significant change a note has been made. In the course of time this page will be updated and the 'old page' retained as an 'archive version'.

We'll begin by simply applying a 'Drop Shadow' to an image to give a three-dimensional' (spatial separation effect)
Our starting point will be a picture with images on two layers:
In this example, a section of the Background image has been 'selected', 'copied and pasted back in' to form a separate layer (Layer 1).
A border has been added to this upper image to further give the impression that it's a separate entity.
The Background image was then rendered as blue monochrome.
However, without a shadow the upper image appears very flat - see below.
 The layer order for the image above


Open the Layer Styles (Effects) by clicking on the 'f' (Add a Layer Style) symbol at the bottom left side of the Layers Palette. See below:
From the large 'Layer Style' dialogue box that opens, select 'Drop Shadow'.
To see what's happening, make certain that 'Preview' is ticked.
With the layer which contains the image to which the shadow is to added (Layer 1 in our example), take the cursor into the image area and 'drag', this will reveal the 'Drop Shadow', in case you couldn't quite see it.
Move the shadow around until it's about in the right position.
Fine adjustment of the Drop Shadow position can be made with the four (arrow) 'movement keys', to the left of the numeric pad on most conventional keyboards.
The various parameters for the shadow may adjusted in the dialogue box.

'Angle' - represents where the shadow is and moving the 'dial' with the cursor will rotate its position.
'Opacity' - determines how dense the shadow is - Note: many good shadows can be ruined by being to dark.
'Blend Mode' - this defaults to 'Multiply' but others are possible.
'Colour' - this is usually black. However, clicking in the small box to the right of 'Blend Mode' will allow any other colour to be chosen.
'Distance' - sets the space for the shadow (but you can simply 'go into' the image area and move it anyway).
'Spread' - thickens the shadow and spreads it out all around.
Size' - determines how fuzzy or blurred the shadow is (yes, it's misleading isn't it)
'Quality' - this opens a another dialogue box and from here the 'contour' of the shadow can be changed - experiment and see.
'Noise' - adds 'noise' (graininess) to the shadow

The image below shows the result of tweaking' the settings until a pleasing result was obtained.
Above: Layer order for the image
This has been a 'simple exercise'. Many other possibilites present themselves, for instance, the upper layer could be rotated (via 'Transform') to provide a skewed offset that could be quite effective, the shadow colour could have been altered, etc.
try out some ideas.

Drop Shadows can be applied to 'Text Layers' to create some very individual effects.

To continue, click on the link below
Manipulating a Drop Shadow

'Delving Deeper into Layers' Topics
Layer-to-Layer Cloning
Adjustment Layers
Clipping Groups
Layer Masks
Layer Styles and Effects
The Text / Typing Layer (information being prepared)
Moving / Copying an Adjustment Layer to Another Image
Know-How Contents
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