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Welcome to my blog! I write, and take photos, and use Photoshop every day. I love learning and surprises and my sweet family and being a transplanted southerner.

Photoshop Friday! On Monday!:D Dropshadows on Acrylic. :D

Hi There!

Gosh, it seems like a long time since my last Photoshop Friday - and it HAS been! Digi: In Deep is winding down, and I really am feeling like I can pull things back together again.

Today’s topic: Adding dropshadows to acrylic items in Photoshop Elements. (Works in the full version of PS, too, of course. :D)

PSE is notoriously difficult to manage with shadows like this, simply because PSE doesn’t allow you to separate a dropshadow layer style onto its own layer so you can manipulate it. When you’re dealing with transparent or semi-transparent items, then, you are stuck making your own, or finding fancy ways around the issue.

Today’s way is pretty fancy. :D

This tutorial is in conjunction with the Designer Challenge at the forum at JessicaSprague.com, and this week our featured designer is none other than the incredible, fabulous, and talented Meredith Fenwick. She has created an entire acrylic alphabet set EXCLUSIVELY for us!  Head on over to the thread right here in the General forums to download the kit, and to participate in the challenge by creating a layout! :D Here’s what it looks like:

MFenwickCustomKit.jpg
MFenwickCustomKit.jpg

After you’ve downloaded your kit, we can practice adding dropshadows to it. The sample here shows the items with shadows, but the alphabet in the kit doesn’t have them. So this is a great chance to learn a cool digi skill! :D

Add Dropshadows to Transparent Items 

ss_acrylic-00.jpg
ss_acrylic-00.jpg

1. Open one of your alphabet letters.

2. Create a new blank document (I created mine at 6x6 just for this), and either pull in a patterned paper or fill your background with a solid color.

3. Drag your letter onto the new document.

722646-1508985-thumbnail.jpg
722646-1508985-thumbnail.jpg

Click for Larger

4. Right-click on the letter in the Layers palette and choose Duplicate Layer from the flyout menu.

5. Target the lower layer in the Layers palette.

6. Open the Effects palette. Switch to Drop Shadows, and double-click on the Low layer style.

722646-1509042-thumbnail.jpg
722646-1509042-thumbnail.jpg

Click for Larger

7. Double-click on the small “FX” icon (a sun icon in earlier versions) next to the layer name in the Layers palette. Set the distance to anywhere between 5-8, the size anywhere from 5-8, the opacity to 60%, and then click on the color swatch to change the color to dark brown.

8. Click OK in the Color Picker, and OK in the Style Settings dialog.

722646-1509049-thumbnail.jpg
722646-1509049-thumbnail.jpg

Click for Larger

9. With the lower acrylic layer still targeted, go to Edit > Fill Layer.

10. In the Fill dialog box, set the Use to Black, and make sure the Preserve Transparency checkbox is checked.

11. Click OK.

722646-1509052-thumbnail.jpg
722646-1509052-thumbnail.jpg

Click for Larger

12. Hide the top acrylic layer in the Layers palette.

13. With the lower acrylic layer targeted, select the Paint Bucket tool.

14. Type “d” to return your foreground and background colors to their defaults. Click down inside of the blackened letter to fill the shape with black.

722646-1509055-thumbnail.jpg
722646-1509055-thumbnail.jpg

Click for Larger

15. At the top of the Layers palette, set the blending mode for the lower layer to Difference. This hides the black fill on the layer, and shows only the dropshadow.

722646-1509060-thumbnail.jpg
722646-1509060-thumbnail.jpg

Click for Larger

 16. Now you can show the top acrylic layer to check out your handiwork! :D

Here’s what the two look like side-by-side. :D

ss_acrylic-00.jpg
ss_acrylic-00.jpg

EDITED: Let me explain the concept behind this one: We are trying to get our duplicated layer to be as solid black as we can. Simply filling it with the paint bucket doesn’t work, because of the white accents (paint bucket has a tolerance, just like the other fill and selection tools). So we have to use a “fill” command to bring the colors closer together, and THEN apply the paint bucket. If you’re dealing with an object that doesn’t have reflections on it, you might be able to skip the Fill command and go straight to the paint bucket. Or vice versa. The goal is to get your lower layer to be solid black, so the Difference blending mode will hide it and just show the dropshadow. :) 

I hope you had a wonderful weekend, and here’s to many more Photoshop Phridays! (Or whatever day it happens to be! LOL) 

On Risk..

One for Sunday.