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In this tutorial I'll cover how to create realistic shadows on a subject.
**During the prep for this my PS crashed a number of times so the hand drawn portions my not look exactly identical in the screenshots.
First select your subject (cutout typicaly) and place them on the paper you plan to use. Also place any other elements that you want to appear under your subject. Like a blanket, carpet, grass, etc.
Now we will start creating the shadow under Lauryn.
So Select your subject and create a new layer.
Now on that layer we will draw our shadow in. Select your brush. The size will depend on the size of your canvas and subject. For this I used a 65px soft edged brush.
Now select the color of your shadow. The goal is for this to appear real as if she is really on that floor and (blanket pieced together out of napkins hehe). So I color matched my brush to a dark "shadow" on the floor.
Now we hand draw in the shadow. This will take some practice on your part. Trial and error will help you be more steady. When drawing in the shadow try to envision where a shadow would appear in a picture. Things to keep in mind.....Where is your light source on the page. Sometimes your paper has a light source showing, so in that case you want place your drawn shadows like they might fall in real life.
Again just practice this.
So for our page we are considering a 90 degree straight down light source. Notice that I went heavy over her hand, foot that is sticking out and where her shirt lifts from the floor.
Now select your shadow layer and drag in under your subject's layer. At this point we want to create the blur, so select Gaussian Blur and adjust it to what you think works.
Now copy your shadow layer and place it on top of your subject and clip it to your subject. (Alt-Ctrl-G)
The next step is lowering the opacity of this layer. This is more or less to what you see fit and takes practice to get just right. Generally on a typical page I vary this between 40-60%.
Now select your eraser brush (I go big) and get rid of all extra shadow that top layer. remember though a shadow isn't "flat" when it is created on a leg for example it gradually gets darker to closer to the floor. To get that effect use a soft edged brush.
You can see from the above screen shot and the one below where I removed a shadow. Note the hand, skirt, toes on her foot sticking out, parts of her leg, etc.
Now select the shadow layer beneath your subject and adjust the opacity of that layer. On a typical page it is anywhere from 75 to 100%. It just depends on how dark the lighting is.
Now I just go in and touch up the areas that look to dark. This can be nudging the bottom layer with the arrow keys a touch so it looks right. Notice the shadowing around her fingers is cleaned up below by nudging.
Please let me know if you have any questions or something isn't clear. This really takes practice more than anything and remember this can be done with objects resting against one another in a page. You can apply this method a number of ways. Give it a try