Ok, so drop shadows. Surely you've head about them. What are they?
The major point of drop shadows are so that the layers in your digital scrapbook layout don't look flat. Yes, I know they ARE flat, but we're going for a more realistic appearance.
I've found that with drop shadows, less is more. They look much better when they're subtle and barely there. Heavy drop shadows can totally ruin a layout. Also, it can make an element look like it's floating.
If you're going for the "graphic" look, you don't need to use drop shadows. If you're wanting your layout to resemble a paper page, better use them. Sometimes the layout's shadows will look fine on the computer, but once you print it, it will look "off" somehow. It's a trial and error process that everyone needs to figure out for themselves. I recommend doing a few layouts, having them printed, and looking at your prints closely to see what you think. This is much preferrable to making 50 layouts, having them all printed, then realizing what you're doing wrong.
My friend Bree Clarkson says: "I put shadows on anything that would IRL. Photos, papers, elements...and titles if I want them to stand out. Journaling, not usually...sometimes I will if no color seems to stand out on the paper."
In most Photoshop Elements programs you can use: "Layer > Layer Style > Scale Effects" to work on percentages of shadows.
I'm pretty unoriginal about my drop shadows -- which is why this entry is so random -- I don't consider myself an expert! LOL. I always just choose my layer in the Layers Palette, then click on the little "f" below it -- which means "add a layer style." (see example, at right.) Then I pick "Drop Shadow" and I get a new popped-up window, which looks like this:
And then I mess with it until it looks good. (And I remember what I decided on, so that I can be consistant with all the shadows on that page!)
Lie Fhung with Ztampf! shares these tips:
Tips for creating natural looking drop shadow in Photoshop CS:
- Set the Distance in the Drop Shadow feature to 0 (Zero)
- Set the Spread to 5 for small items, more for large items
- Set the Size to between 8-13, more for large items
- Set the Opacity to between 50-65 if your paper is in light color for softer shadow
Play around with the Distance, Spread and Size options to achieve the look you're after. Thicker items might require larger spread, while thin paper would look realistic enough with very thin spread, etc.
You might also want to use non-black colors, i.e. very dark brown or dark grey for a more natural look. If your paper is in dark color, then Black would be the best. Otherwise, try using non-black colors.
Here's a tutorial at ScrapGirls.com with more information about drop shadows: click here.
Here's an article at DigitalScrapbookPlace about realistic shadows: click here
Here are two tutorials at ScrapbookBytes: tutorial 1 and tutorial 2
Sorry it's so random. If someone has more advice on what to add to this entry, I'd love the help. LOL.
And in closing, a funny story:
Bree and I like to talk at night sometimes in Yahoo Messanger -- anyway, I sent her a file of a new project, a paper page I'd just completed and scanned. She messaged me and said "OMG, the first thing I thought when I saw this was 'she forgot to put drop shadows on it.' " Heh.