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Cc4FuzzyHuggles

Drop Shadow Tutorial

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Drop Shadow Tutorial

 
Hello and Welcome. :)
 
In the first part of this tutorial I will try to explain step by step on how to make a drop shadow. (without plugins)
In the second part of this tutorial I will give examples of using plugins to make drop shadows. (since I am just giving examples of the plugins, I don't have pictures for all of the steps, so if you need more pictures or details, please see the first part of this tutorial.)
 
If you are new or a beginner to paint.net, plugins are often the recommended way of doing things and they often make life easy, but sometimes manually making drop shadows lets you have more control over the shadow, and not everyone likes to adventure into plugins. So, I will show you how to enjoy drop shadows with and without plugins. ;)

To follow this tutorial easier, I recommend you know paint.net's layers and how to work with them.

For this tutorial I will be using this picture :
http://www.freeimages.com/photo/1086155
late-for-tea-1086155-m.jpg
 
Clicking on "show" will reveal the steps and content.

Part One - Making a Drop Shadow.

Hidden Content:
I would like to mention that these steps are pretty flexible. Once you know how to make the drop shadow you can do steps 3 – 6 in almost any order you want.
With that said, let's get started, and then you can have some fun and get creative! ;)

1) Have your object (or text) on it's own layer.
You need your object (or text) to be on a transparent layer in order to give it a drop shadow. If the object is something in a picture, or if it has a white background, or any background, you will need to cut it out. You can cut out objects by using the selection tools, the eraser tool, or try these tutorials : Basic Cutting Out Images and Mini Tut - Quick Image Cut-Out
 
TeaSetLayersLayerSample_zpsmhwlcjhs.jpg
 
2) Duplicate your object layer.
 
DuplicateObjectLayer_zps4x9k4xby.jpg
 
3) Choose one of the Object Layers to be your Shadow Layer, and turn the object that's on that layer black.
To turn the object black, go up to the Menu Bar > Adjustments > Hue/Saturation and lower the lightness all the way to -100.
 
Note :
-- If you choose the lower Object Layer to be the Shadow Layer, you won't see the object become black, you'll just have to trust that it does become black, or uncheck/check the visibility options of any layers that are above your Shadow Layer. (some people might find this choice a little more visually confusing)
-- If you choose the top Object Layer to be the Shadow Layer, you will see the object become black. But since this will be a shadow, the Shadow Layer will need to be moved under the Object Layer once it is black.

 
TurnObjectBlack1_zps3qgfbgqx.jpg
 
4) If it isn't already, have your Shadow Layer under your Object Layer, and while on the Shadow Layer, move the shadow a little bit, so it isn't directly behind your normal object.
How to move the shadow...
-- For smaller objects, make a selection around your object shadow using a selection tool, and then use the “move selected pixels" tool :MoveTool: to move the shadow.
-- For larger objects, get the “move selected pixels” tool :MoveTool:, and then click and drag to move the shadow.
(Tip, you can use your keyboard's arrow keys to help position the shadow.)

I felt my shadow was a little hard to distinguish in the re-sized version of my sample image, so I've pointed out some of the areas where you can see it peaking out from behind my object. Or, for this picture only, you can view a larger version of the image (which doesn't have blue marks) by clicking on the picture or clicking here.
MoveShadow2Blue_zpszq2ts6fi.jpg
 
5) Deselect, and then use the Gaussian Blur effect to blur the shadow to the amount you like.
To Deselect press ctrl and D on your keyboard, or go up to the menu bar/tool bar and click the icon that looks like this :Deselect:.
To blur, go up to Menu Bar > Effects > Blur > Gaussian blur.

I used a radius of 23, you can blur to any amount you want though.
BlurTheShadowReSize_zpsvzgs3sk7.jpg

6) Open the shadow layer's properties and lower the opacity to an amount that looks good to you.
To open layer properties, double click on the layer in the layers window.
 
I lowered my opacity down to 125.
LayerOpacityReSized_zpsmwhh5qsc.jpg
 
7) Optional. Now that you have the shadow, you might be having second thoughts on where you want it positioned, so if you want, you can now move and re-adjust your shadow's positioning. (If your object is small or is text, arrow keys are good for positioning small shadows and text drop shadows.)

I was mostly fine with where my shadow was, so I didn't re-position it very much. Here is the final result for this example picture.
TeaSetDropShadowReSized_zpstszyqofz.jpg
  
Part Two - Making Drop Shadows With Plugins.
Hidden Content:
Plugins Used :
How to install plugins?
Drop Shadow
Trail

1) Have your object (or text) on it's own layer.
You need your object to be on a transparent layer in order to give it a drop shadow. If the object is something in a picture, or if it has a white background, or any background, you will need to cut it out. You can cut out objects by using the selection tools, the eraser tool, or try these tutorials : Basic Cutting Out Images and Mini Tut - Quick Image Cut-Out

TeaSetLayersLayerSample_zpsmhwlcjhs.jpg

2) Optional. Duplicate the Object Layer and re-name the lower one “Drop Shadow”.
Most people will run plugins directly on the object layer. But I personally like the versatility of keeping the object and shadow separate.
For example, if I change my mind about the color or brightness/contrast of my object, I can change my object's color or brightness/contrast without effecting the shadow. I can also duplicate my object and play with blending modes, which works well for just objects, but if you have an object with a drop shadow, blending modes can sometimes effect the shadow in undesirable ways.

PluginDrpShdwLayerSample_zpsmakmkcbg.jpg

3) Add the drop shadow using the plugin of your choice.
I will demonstrate two plugins...

   3a.) The Drop Shadow Plugin.
Optional. If you want your object black go up to Menu Bar > Adjustments > Hue/Saturation and turn the lightness all the way down to -100.
Normally you don't need to turn the object black if you use the Drop Shadow plugin. This is because you won't see the object that's on the drop shadow layer, you will only see the drop shadow that comes out from behind the object. However, every project is different and every object is different, so sometimes turning the object black does make a difference.

DropShadowExamplePic_zpswesha5iw.jpg

   3b) For a different appearance, you can try The Trail Plugin.
   1. For this plugin you will want to turn your object into a solid color, such as black or a dark gray.
       To turn the object black, go up to the Menu Bar > Adjustments > Hue/Saturation and lower the lightness all the way to -100.
   2. Trail does not have an opacity slider, so you will need to change the layer's opacity if you want that option.
   3. Run the Trail plugin.

Here is an example of making a unique drop shadow effect with the plugin.
Before I ran the plugin I lowered my layer's opacity to I think around 182.
TrailPluginSamplePic_zps96zumdtn.jpg


Here is a an example of making a more normal drop shadow with the plugin.
Before I ran the plugin I lowered my layer's opacity to 125.
TrailPluginDropShadowSamplePic_zps3oiq1o

Note: If you use the trail plugin to make a drop shadow, you might like to blur the shadow a little more. To blur it more use the Gaussian Blur effect. (Menu Bar > Effects > Blur > Gaussian Blur)

Part Three - Here are more drop shadow sample images.
These drop shadow samples can be done with and without plugins.
Hidden Content:

For the text in this picture I used a combination of different drop shadows to get the look I wanted.
 Paint.etTextEffectLayers_zpsbdbuemgg.jpg
 

Sometimes, when objects (or text) are given drop shadows, it can make things look “Layered” or “Stacked”, or even give the appearance that the objects are floating. This simple picture of shapes and shadows tries to demonstrate that.
 ShapesAndShadows_zpstbuohd3t.jpg
 

Here is another example of using shadows to give the impression of objects that are above and below one another as the top objects make shadows on the lower objects and the background.
 SwirlsAndShadowsSample_zpsqglpbhcy.jpg
 

Here is another text sample picture. I manually made the drop shadows that are behind the text and the green rectangle.
 SimpleDropShadowSiggy2_zpsrfqgbqv4.jpg

 

If you need help with anything or get confused, just ask and I will see if I can help. :)

Edited by Cc4FuzzyHuggles
  • Upvote 4

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EDIT!
 

Updated! Drop Shadow Plugin Examples Added!
I only added two plugin examples, I know there are others but I didn't do my research to remember them or find them. If you want other plugins demonstrated, or if you know other plugins that are good for making drop shadows, let me know about them. ;)

Edited by Cc4FuzzyHuggles

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So, you have been busy. No resting on your gradient blending laurels, for long. 

 

bravo.gifThis is a very clean use of the provides tools and I think gives much more control for those instances where

 the "usual" drop shadow is not able to be adjusted to your requirements.

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Photoshop is able to do manual shadows but it can also render shadows as an effect much like paint.net's plugins. I personally have not used photoshop to make shadows, but I have seen photoshop tutorials and I have used other paid programs that function similarly to photoshop.
 
I am very happy that paint.net can do drop shadows, since drop shadows are simple and fun. :)

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Shadows also help if the background behind the lightly-colored text is also too bright. I enjoy adjusting the blur radius too.

 

I also devised a way of applying shadowy halves on objects themselves and that is through the use of a gradient.

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