If Steve Caplin had stopped at creating relatively simple shadows in How to Cheat in Photoshop, 6th ed., it would have been far more than most people learn from most Photoshop books. Luckily, he continues with the art lessons, giving readers increasingly complex shadow skills. As the great Renaissance painters taught us centuries ago, it’s correct shadows that ensure images look realistic.
Stacking the Deck
Making a stack of cards could require as many layers as cards, but Caplin teaches otherwise as seen in this example:
The original card looks flat and unrealistic. Note how adding a shadow under each card makes the stack look three-dimensional. It would be a clever trick, as is. However, Caplin goes further by explaining how to create the whole stack on one layer, thereby making a much smaller file. He also teaches readers how to use QuickMask mode along with the Levels control dialog box to get rid of unwanted shadow areas.
What’s more, Caplin doesn’t just use this technique once and never come back to it. Nope. In Chapter 10 How to Cheat in Photoshop readers use this technique to create realistic shadows for a stack of bills being cut by a meat cleaver. But, more on that when we get to Chapter 10.
A Basket of Shadows
When objects are grouped together they will cast shadows on each other. In the following tutorial Caplin shows how to use Hard Light layers and the Burn tool to create editable shadows, while making the image look as if it its a photo of basket filled with toys rather than a photo that’s been altered to include a bunch of images of toys:
First the ball, book and blocks layers are selected. A new layer is created in Hard Light mode and filled with 50% grey. However, since grey is invisible in Hard Light mode, the Burn tool is used on it’s layer, instead of the actual objects, to create the shadows. Note how realistic the basket on the right looks compared with the original.
When trying to convey a lamp lighting a dark room, the light must be hyper-realistic. A lit lamp just doesn’t look like the example on the left, below:
The original image was created using three layers. Caplin demonstrates how, using QuickMask mode, to selectively blur the light and paint on the shadows. On the right, the image now looks as if the light had been turned on in a dark room.
Turn the Lamp On
The next example was an earlier Friday Challenge that Caplin incorporated into the 6th edition. The challenge was to make a table lamp in a room lit by daylight look as if night had fallen and the lamp had been turned on.
Again, I am thankful I did not have to work on this challenge without the instructions! Since everything was originally on one layer, it turns out that all of the elements must be copied to separate layers before the light can be added to create the desired effect. On the right is my nighttime lamp with the light “turned on.”
Next: Light and Shadow – Part 3