I received an email last week asking if I had any advice for shadowing a transparent swirl that I included in a page kit. I have written up a tutorial to describe my method for shadowing transparent elements for my own pages.
Shadowing a transparent element can be tricky. A bright and pretty element can end up looking dark, dull and gray. There is a simple way to shadow an element and keep it bright and pretty. Actually, I'm sure that there are several great methods, but I will share my favorite with you!
In the image below, both ghosts use the same shadow levels. However, I used a different technique to shadow the ghost on the left in order to keep the element looking bright and clean.
First, place your element on your paper. Next, duplicate the element layer. Click on the element you want to duplicate in the layers panel (mine is the ghost). Next navigate to the “layer” menu, and then choose “duplicate layer” or you can simply hit “control + J” on your keyboard to duplicate the layer.
Click the little “eyeball” symbol on the top layer in the layers panel to hide the top element.
Next, choose the bottom copy of the element on your layer panel. Add a drop shadow to the bottom element and adjust the levels to a setting that you like. I used the following settings: Blend Mode: Multiply, opacity 32, color: 252406, angle 120, distance 41, spread 0, size 76. All other settings are at default.
As you will see, the shadow shows through the element creating a darker, grayer image. The next steps will eliminate that darkness.
Choose the “magic wand tool” from your tool bar. This may be hidden underneath the “quick selection tool” on the menu. Make sure that the “contiguous” box (circled in red) is unchecked.
On the bottom element layer, place the wand anywhere outside of your element and click. This will result in the marching ants selection lines running around the outside of the page and along your element's outer edges.
Currently, we have selected everything on the screen that is not part of our element. What we want is to select only our element. Select the inverse by choosing “select” and then “inverse” or by hitting “shift+control+I” on your keyboard.
Your element is now selected as you can see by the marching ants surrounding only your element. The next step is to fill the element with a solid color. Do this by choosing “edit” and then “fill” or hit “shift+F5” on your keyboard.
Hang in there, we are nearly finished! The next step is to set your fill level to “0%” by moving the slider on the “fill” option all the way to the left. (Circled in red below.) You will be left with an image that looks empty under the element, but shadowed around the edges.
Now click the little eyeball on your upper element layer in the layer panel and your top element will reappear. Tada!! We are finished! The result is that you have shadowed around your element, but you have not left a darker spot underneath the transparent portion of your element.
This looks like a long and complicated process, but I promise that it is much simpler than it seems. I hope you give it a try!
I have a little Halloween themed giftie for you here to practice the tutorial with. It includes several transparent elements for you to practice with! I also included 4 Photoshop shadow layer styles in the sampler for you to practice with. The element fill level is already set to “0%” on these styles. You can of course adjust the opacity of the shadows to the correct levels for your element sizing and paper colors.
I hope you enjoyed the tutorial and have fun using the free elements!
If you do not yet have my Trick or Treat or Happy Haunters Halloween kits, you can still grab them for 30% off through November 2. To redeem the discount use coupon code: HAPPYHALLOWEEN30.
Best wishes to all of you for a fun and safe Halloween weekend!!
Download Halloween Sampler Elements and Shadow Styles HERE