Creating Shadows in Photoshop for Type
Stephen writes in to say:
> I need to create a shadow of type as if it
> were projected onto the floor by a
> strong light behind it. Can you help
> Photoshop 6, Mac OS 9
- Transform, Blur, Blur Again...
Yes, the idea is not just a shadow, but a shadow that gets lighter and more blurred as it moves away from it's creator. This is called "fall-off" and it's a familiar term to photographers.
- Getting started
In Photoshop select the type tool. In the options bar above select the font, size and other specifications for the type you want to use. (This could also be illustrator or other type imported, or a layer with rastered type on it.) Make sure the type is exactly like you want it.
This diagram may be helpful.
- Flip it into position
- Now, tap the letter "V" to get the Move Tool, and let's make a copy of our type by hitting Cmd/J (cntrl/j) which is the "float" command. This will duplicate the type layer for our shadow operations.
- Now, select the layer behind (the original) and then hit Cmd/t (cntrl/t) to put the type in Free Transform mode.
- Hold down Control and click inside the selected area to pull out the Free Transform menu pop-up, and slide down to "Flip Vertical" (Windows: Right Click/hold) Don't press return or enter yet, you've got more to do.
- Once flipped, drag within the active selection and drag it down until you can see it.
- Now, apply Perspective
- Use menu: Layer > Rasterize > Type to rasterize the type. (Note: perspective won't work unless the type has been rasterized.)
- Re-enter Free Transform mode with a Cmd/t (cntrl/t)
- Cntrl/click again to pull out the Free Transform menu pop-up, (Windows: Right Click/hold) and this time select "Perspective."
- Now drag either of the lower handles out to achieve the amount of perspective you want. Hit enter
- Move the image up or down to get the distance for the cast shadow. While still in Free Transform mode, use the center selection handles to compress the shadow or expand it. Remember the closer the object is to the ground, the closer and shorter the shadow will be.
- Option/Shift/Delete to fill the object with the color you want for the shadow. (Here we used black.)
- Now make the shadow soft
Apply a Gaussian Blure to "fog" the shadow, (depending on taste and the size of the graphic... here our example graphic is only 144 x 144 so we couldn't stand much and gave it a 1.5 blur.) and set opacity of the layer to around 80%. Now it's shadow like.
- Now make the shadow "fall off"
Since shadows get hazier as they move away from the subject, you want the foremost part of the shadow to be more blurry. Make a selection of the foremost third, and set a Selection > Feather of about 2 to 6 pixels. (This depends on the size of the graphic. Larger graphics will take more feathering.) then apply the Gaussian Blure again
- How did you do?
- Done. Note that you can also give a graduated shadow fall-off by using a graduated mast from solid to transparent. Experiment with this technique using an adjustment layer so it's non-destructive to your art. See if the effect enhances your original idea.
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