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Drop Shadows

Is there any single image technique more ubiquitous than the drop shadow? Every catalog and ad seems to require at least one (and often many) of the little beasts. Because early versions of Photoshop offered no simple, built-in method for building drop shadows, everyone developed their own special techniques, some of which used dozens of steps to achieve the effect. Fortunately, Photoshop's Layer Effects feature makes the process significantly simpler. (While David rejoiced upon seeing this feature, Bruce, a latter-day John Henry, still does drop shadows the hard way, partly because he refuses to admit that an automatic routine could do as good a job, and partly because drop shadows generated by layer effects usually wind up as a rich black rather than as black-plate-only, which is often what he wants.)

Tip

Use a Plug-In for Drop Shadows. Even David agrees that Photoshop's Layer Effects feature is definitely not the end-all and be-all of drop shadow creation. For anything but the most basic drop shadow, you need to either create the effect yourself, spend time tweaking what Photoshop creates, or use a third-party plug-in. For instance, Andromeda Software's Shadow Filter lets you create incredibly complex shadows, with multiple light sources, even projecting them onto a different 3-D plane. EyeCandy from Alien Skin, too, offers some fascinating drop shadow effects.



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