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Digital Scrapbooking Tutorial – Customizing Your Drop Shadows

May 16, 2010

Adding a drop shadow to your digital scrapbook elements gives them dimension and helps to make them look more ‘real’. In this digital scrapbooking tutorial you will learn how to customize your drop shadows to make them look more realistic.

When you select a drop shadow from the Layer Styles Pallet you can choose from a range of options. But each of these shadow styles comes with default settings which determine how dark the shadow is, how large it is and how far away from your element it extends. And all the defaults come in grey.

In real life shadows are not usually grey. The tend to take their color from the surface on which they are cast. You can test this yourself by placing an object over a colored surface and looking closely at the shadow. Typically you will see that it’s a dark shade of the surface and not a black/grey color (unless that’s the color of the surface).

So if you want your shadows to look more like real life you will have to modify the defaults in your photo editing program.

This digital scrapbooking tutorial refers to Photoshop Elements but you can easily translate it to suit most good photo editing software programs.

  • First activate your element layer in the Layers Pallet and then select a shadow from your Styles Pallet and click to apply it to your element.
  • Now double click on the little ‘sun’ or circle’ icon at the right of its layer in the Layers Pallet.
  • You are presented with a Style Settings dialog box that allows you to play with the size of the shadow, the distance it sits away from your element and it’s opacity. You can vary these parameters by using the slider bars or by typing pixel sizes directly into the appropriate fields in the dialog box.
  • You can also customize the colors of your shadows to reflect the color of your background or even to create a funky effect. To customize the color of your shadow do this (note: this feature is not available in PSE4).
    • Click on the small color swatch box to the right of the size parameter in your Style Settings box.
    • The color picker box will open and you can move your mouse over your layout (it will turn into an eyedropper) and click on an area of your background which is the colour you want for your shadow.
    • You can click in the Color Picker to choose variations on this if you like. Usually you will choose a darker variation of the color. And when you’re satisfied, click OK.
  • By playing with the Opacity slider in the Style Settings box you can make the shadow look lighter or heavier.
  • When you have the shadow look you want click OK.

And that’s all there is to it.

Once you start customizing your drop shadow you’ll never settle for those default grey ones again.

I hope you’ve found this tutorial useful. Whilst your here why not check out some of the other digital scrapbooking tutorials we have available.

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