Shadows, the Cbag way!

This week’s tutorial will be demonstrating my technique for close-cutting photos and retaining a natural shadow – as the title says: shadows, the Cbag* way… otherwise known as the ancient art of Shadowbag-do.

Let’s start by showing a sample photo of a knife block on a counter, with a natural shadow.

I see you've played knifey-spooney before.

Slicey. Right. Now lets say you want to close-cut the knife and block but want to retain the shadow. The first instinct is to mask it out as follows:

Alpha channel overlaying the image on the left, alpha channel on it's own on the right. This caption wasn't funny in the slightest.

Which, when shown on a white background, will look like:

I'm a Super-star!

But what happens if you need to put it on a coloured background?


Not feeling so smug anymore, eh?

Well, by using layers and blending modes we can mask the image out, retain the natural shadow and have it look correct over any background you dare to put behind it.

Step 1: Mask out the image as you normally would.

mmmmm... masky!

Step 2: Duplicate the layer, and move the duplicate behind.

Layered for your protection.

I’ve taken the liberty of renaming my layers in the above screenshot… and I took that liberty, for justice!

Step 3: Modify the mask on the ‘shadow’ layer to include the natural shadow.

saaaayyyyy... you look familiar...

Step 4: This is where the magic happens, grasshopper. With the ‘shadow’ layer still selected, go to Layer > Layer Style > Blending Options.

By the Power of Greyskull Blending Options!

Under the Blend Mode popup menu, choose Multiply, and slide the opacity down to 80%.

Which will result in:

Happy time!

And there you have it. Close-cuts with natural shadows**, that can be dropped onto any sort of background.

You’re welcome. 😉

* Judan Master of Shadowbag-do

** Yes, I realize my sample image *technically* has a reflection and not a shadow, and light behaves differently with regards to reflections, but it’s late, and I only had so many generic images to choose from. It’s best not to ask why I just *happened* to have a photo of a knife block lying around. Don’t judge me.

~ by Chris on December 17, 2010.

One Response to “Shadows, the Cbag way!”

  1. […] is a follow-up to my Shadow tutorial last week. There are a number of steps involved in my process, and while simple, they are […]

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