Adding a shadow to your digital placed elements will create a more natural
Words & Pictures Peter Bargh ePHOTOzine
This ornamental statue was photographed in a
local pub. The lighting was tungsten and the camera was set to auto white
balance so it's compensated.
I'm going to cut this out and place it into a room location so it looks
like it's a full sized servant. I used the Photoshop Extract option to paint
around the object and make the background transparent.
I then pasted it into the room location and resized
it using the transform tool to make it look to scale. I also used the color
correction tool to adjust the tones and make it look as though it was in
the scene and with similar lighting, which is more yellow.
Now to the object of this exercise - the shadow. If you look at the statue
you'll see he looks pasted on because there's no shadow. This can be created
easily using a few steps. There is a drop shadow option in Photoshop but
this puts a shadow around the subject and not at the angle we need.
Before you start take a look at the shadows of objects in the shot. Here
the table and chairs have shadows below and to the front right. These
are produced from the sun coming through the skylight window.
Duplicate the ornament layer by dragging it to the layer icon in the
layer palette or click it and select Layer>Duplicate Layer from the
menu. With the duplicated layer active go to Image>Adjustments>Threshold.
This calls up a histogram with one slider. The
layer is then reduced to black or white and the Threshold slider controls
the point where the tones change from black to white. Drag it all the way
to the right and you'll notice all the selection becomes black. (Dragging
it to the left would make it all white) Click okay and you now have a shadow
of the object covering the layer below.
No go to Edit>Transform and select the distort
optionl. Click on and drag the top corner and pull it down so it is below
the bottom corner and do the same with the other side. This will flip your
created shadow. Pull the corners so the shadow appears to be at an angle
similar to the other shadows in the photo and make it squat by reducing
the height. Play around until the shadow looks natural. You may want to
use the Move tool to reposition the base of the shadow so it's correctly
placed below the feet of the ornament.
Now go to Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur and
adjust the radius slider so the hard edged shadow displayed becomes soft.
Make sure Preview is selected so you can see the result as it changes on
the actual photograph. Notice that the softening effect has made the shadow
near the feet appear to have a gap. You may need to go back to the shadow
layer and adjust the position as I had to in the next stage below.
Use the Transform>Distort option
again to adjust the position and size of the shadow so it looks natural.
I also reduced the opacity to make the shadow look less harsh. It's at 60%
And when you are satisfied with the
result save a layered copy so you can edit in future, and save a flattened
version if you want to send your masterpiece to a friend or to a web site.