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Video | Add Shadows to Elements

By Tuesday, January 26, 2016 (MDT) 15 Comments
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 Creative Team Member, Suzie, demonstrates how to add realistic shadow effects to elements in Adobe Photoshop.

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Anna Aspnes

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Join the discussion 15 Comments

  • Karen Clinkinbeard says:

    Very good tutorial on drop shadows! I’ve read/watched lots of shadowing tutorials and thought I knew quite a bit about how to achieve the look I want, but I learned some new things today! Thank you Suzie for these helpful tips.

    • suzie says:

      Hi Karen
      So pleased you found it useful. I have been known to be obsessed with shadows! sectret: I had one element which had 5 drop shadow layers underneath! OMG! Obsessed I tell you! LOL!

  • eileen says:

    thank you …great info … hope I can do most of it with PSE

    • suzie says:

      Eileen I am not sure about Elements. My advice if you can’t put the shadow on it’s own layer, is to copy the element (Control J), Put copy underneath element layer. colour overlay to colour the whole element, Filter>blur>Gaussian Blur to blur the edges. You’ll need to rasterise layer possibly (right click>rasterise layer) to merge that colour overlay layer style.
      Hope that helps – and please do tell if you were able to do this in PSE.

      • Su Hall says:

        @Eileen and @Suzie – It is my understanding that, in Elements, you add a drop shadow, as usual, from your selections. Don’t be concerned with it’s distance and size at this point. While in the mode to make adjustments to it, click on and drag the shadow itself away from the actual element. You don’t want any part of the shadow touching the element. Click Okay or Check the box. Use the Marquis or Polygonal tool to separate the shadow from the element with a selection. “Cut” the one that is selected from the original to its own layer. (I’m not sure about ‘Cut’ in Elements. It may be a right-click menu choice or you may have to go under Edit or Layer, even.)
        Does that make sense? I don’t have Elements, but, was curious about the technique, so, have seen it done before.
        There is another way that is super quick. Duplicate your image, then, turn it solid black. I give mine a color fill or overlay, then, clip it and merge it to the duplicate. Move it under the original element. It is now your shadow. Change the Blend Mode, Blur and Opacity to your heat’s content!

        • suzie says:

          Thanks Su for the info. I just received a message from Debbie Todd saying the following:
          Thank you for the drop shadow tutorial. However, I run PSE … so everything in your tutorial works except for separating the shadow onto a new layer. There is a tutorial on you tube: Putting a drop shadow on separate layer in PSE. When you apply the shadow — you should separate it by using the distance control; simplify that layer (with the element and the shadow both showing separately); and use your marque tool on the shadow – right click and select “layer via cut”. All else works!

  • Diane says:

    I cannot believe I never knew you could pop a drop shadow onto its own layer and manipulate it. Light bulb! Also didn’t know you could drag a shadow from one element to another…so much faster than copy layer style, paste layer style. Thank you!

  • suzie says:

    Hi Diane
    So pleased you found it useful.
    You can do exactly this for all layer styles – Alt+ click and drag as well as put on separate layers.

  • Tansy says:

    Great tutorial Suzie, very clearly explained………and you sound so sweet lol!

  • Su Hall says:

    That was an excellent video tutorial! Even knowing how to do this, I still learned some new tricks! Like holding ‘Ctrl’ while in Transform mode and moving it around. I knew it did that, but, it never occurred to me to use it for shadows! I’ve always done the ‘Warp’ thing.
    You have a very nice voice for tutorials, too! You all do!
    Thank you very much!


    • suzie says:

      Thanks Su (again!) I often wonder if we all got together and posted our tricks we would all be amazed that we never knew such simple things! I remember the first time I discovered the transform – after putting approximate dimensions in for things before importing them! Can you imagine……….!!

  • suzie says:

    I could have added much more to this tutorial (like adding a gradient fill and a gradient blur – well gradient adjustment really!, etc) but didn’t want to bore everyone and in reality I don’t think we would use these for elements – we would only ever use most of the “advance” features if extracting.
    Perhaps one day I’ll do a Part 2 🙂

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