Hello scrappers! Megan (mturnidge) here with a quick tutorial about drop shadows! You can add depth to your pages by playing with shadow styles and I think shadows can really make or break a page. For this tutorial, I am using Photoshop Elements 5.0.

You may find that you prefer different shadow settings for different elements and when layered on different colors of paper. Sometimes I like things to look like they are hanging over the paper, such as a hanging tag. Other times I want layered frames to look like they are sitting more flat against the page. You need to use different settings to achieve these different effects.

To apply a shadow to your element, select the element and go to Artwork and Effects> Special Effects>Layer Styles>Drop Shadows. Then select either “Low,” “High,” or “Soft Edge” and then click “Apply.” Out of habit, I always select the “Soft Edge” shadow. You should notice a shadow has been added to your element.

TIP: To make this shadow style easier to find in the future, select it and then click the star icon on the bottom left corner of the bin. This will add the layer style to your Favorites and can be found in the future by clicking on the larger star icon along the upper edge of the bin.

NOTE: The “Artwork and Effects” bin is just to the right of my canvas and just above my layers palette. If yours is not visible go to Window>Artwork and Effects and make sure there is a check mark next to Artwork and Effects.

Usually, simply leaving the shadow as is looks fake. To adjust the settings double click on the little icon in the layers palette next to your layer’s name that indicates a layer style (it looks like a little sun). A window will pop up and you can adjust the lighting angle and the size, distance, and opacity of the shadow. Play with the sliders and find what settings you like best to achieve the effect you want. Drag the Size slider to the right to get a larger shadow and to the left for a smaller shadow. If the shadow is too small, it will be very hard and sharp and will look fake. If it’s too big it also won’t create a realistic effect. If you want your element to look like it is floating more off the page, drag the Distance slider to the right. To make an element look like it is closer to the page, slide it to the left. The opacity slider will control how dark the shadow is. I bring this slider down to the left when I am layering on top of light colored pages to soften it up.

Below is a picture comparing two different shadows. To the left is an example of what to avoid. I applied the “Hard Edge” shadow to the bracket and left the default settings. Notice how strong and fake the shadow looks. On the right is the same element after I adjusted the settings (Size: 20 px, Distance: 11 px, Opacity: 75). Doesn’t that look so much better?!

You may find you prefer slightly stronger or softer shadows. Just play with the settings and see what you like… and enjoy creating pages that will fool all those paper scrappers! ;)

‘Till Next Time,
Happy Scrapping!

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