Making Layers Off Your Styles


Heidi here with a quick tip when using your styles. Today we are going to use our shadows style to give them a little dimension. Have you ever looked at a layout and saw the shadow for an item going in different directions not just the typical 120 degrees? Do you wonder how it was done? Well, I am going to walk you through a simple way to achieve that.

First thing you want to do is add your shadow style to your layer. I added the shadow to the banner. Notice that the entire banner’s shadow is going 45 degrees…as the style tells it to.



Next, you are going to make your shadow show by clicking on the arrow next to the “fx” (#1). If you have applied any other styles to your item, they will show up here. I have only applied a shadow style. Place your mouse over “drop shadow” and right click (#2).


You will see a long list of things you can choose from … go down to the bottom and click “create layer” (#3).


You will probably get a pop up box asking if you are sure you want to do this, click ok.


Look in your layers, do you see how your shadow is now a separate layer? It is no longer a style.


Make sure your shadow layer is highlighted (it should automatically already be highlighted when you created a layer.) and hit “control t”. Look up at the top of photoshop and you will see 3 “buttons” pop up. You want to select the one I have circled #6 Free transform/warp control.


Notice how the banner has a grid over it? That grid will allow you to move specific parts of your shadow. See my small red arrow at the bottom of the picture? That is where I placed my mouse and slightly pulled the shadow down. See how the bikini bottom shadow is now going the opposite direction I originally put it? Remember, my shadow style was 45 degrees … I just pulled the shadow layer -45, or down and to the right. But also notice that it moves the WHOLE shadow. The closer you are to where the mouse is located when I move my layer, the more the shadow will move. The farther away you are from the mouse, the less the shadow layer will move. Notice how the left blue flip flop’s shadow is a little bigger than the right? That is because the left flip flop is closer to where my mouse is moving the shadow layer.


Now it is just a matter of playing with the layer. It will take practice!!! Even while creating the shadow for this layer, it took me a couple of tries. If you really mess up, go back to the top and hit the circle with the line through it. It won’t save what you have done and put your shadow layer back to it’s original state. Hit “control t” again and start fresh. A little movement goes a long way. My main focus was the bikini bottom. Once I got that looking how I wanted (the shadow going the opposite direction of the pink flip flops), I went through and adjusted the other items. The bikini top was really off, so I had to carefully adjust that, go back and adjust the bikini bottom and so on.


This was my finished product. Now looking at this, I really don’t like how harsh my shadow is. So making sure my shadow layer is still highlighted, I went up to my opacity and turned it down until I liked the softened look.


Once you like what you have done with you shadow, highlight the layers of both the object and the shadow of the object (my banner and my banner’s shadow).


Find your link button (circled in red below) and click it. This is a really important step!! If for some reason you need to move your banner, your shadow will move with it. If you don’t link it, then just your banner will move and the shadow will stay behind. Also, make sure you do not put anything in-between your item layer and your shadow layer. I do not like to merge my layers in case I need to go back and tweek my shadow once I have finished my layout. If I do need to tweek my shadow, you will need to un-link the layers. Otherwise, your transform button won’t work.


Notice the direction of the shadow of the pink flip flops and the blue flip flops? The are going opposite directions … you can’t achieve that with just using a shadow style. You now have a banner that is a little more realistic … like it is blowing in the wind. 🙂 You can use this method to pull your paper shadow out a little bit to make the paper look bumpy or crinkled, make a corner of a banner rolled up, etc. Use your imagination!

Hello Sunshine

Let’s see you try this tutorial … join us in the forum!


About the Author: Heidi has been scrapping for 17 years. Her passions include dark chocolate, photography of her family and reading Christian fiction. When not doing one of these activities, she can be found working at an elementary school library or enjoying being a SAHM.

Pursue The Perfect Shadow – The Zen of Shadowing

Pursue The Perfect Shadow

I think that most of us seasoned scrappers went through phases with shadowing on a page. I remember my first pages, where I simply skipped the shadowing. I maybe just didn’t know that there was a shadowing feature and most probably I was ignorant that shadows would make a difference. After a while I found the shadows feature but just didn’t know how to use it properly and in review these pages don’t look much less awkward than my first attempts. After a while of shadow dabbling I found shadow styles and gosh, they made my scrapping life so much easier and rewarding. In this tutorial I will show you one technique to go even further and bring you closer to your Zen of Shadowing.


As much as anything in art, shadowing styles are a matter of taste. I personally like my shadows to be noticeable and giving depth to the page. I love it when I achieve a close-to-paper look. It’s still a hit and miss and I’m working, tweaking, changing my ways constantly to try something new and „better“ in this realm.


Pursue The Perfect Shadow or The Zen Of Shadowing - Smudging

Every item’s shadow on this layout has been smudged. Look at the paper’s edges, the photos and the tassels.


My latest obsession is „smudging“ the shadow. To do this, you have to be able to put your software-generated shadow on it’s own layer. I do this in photoshop cs6 by 1. right-clicking on the fx icon of the layer and 2. clicking „create layers“. If you can’t do that, you can always separate the shadow manually. Look up google for „Putting a Drop Shadow on Separate Layer„ for your graphic software.


Pursue The Perfect Shadow - The Zen Of Shadowing - Smudging

How to put your shadow on a separate layer in PS CS6

Before you can separate a shadow, you surely have to apply one. It’s up to you how you do that. I use shadow styles all the time and sometimes tweak them before separating, sometimes I do it afterwards.

So with your shadow separated, you 1. click on the new shadow layer 2. click on the smugde tool, which is housed with the blur and sharpen tool. 3. Select a big round brush with about 20% hardness. The size of the brush depends on the size of the item your shadow belongs to. I usually go with a 825 px brush for the most items and adjust for very big or small items. 4. Look closely which part of the shadow you want to smudge. Put the middle of your brush to that part and pull a tiny bit into the direction where the light falls (away from the virtual light source).

Pursue The Perfect Shadow - The Zen Of Shadowing - Smudging

How to smugde a shadow

All the settings are just a suggestion and you may want to play around with this feature to get acquainted and make it your friend. The tool is not always easy to handle and especially when your software is going slow anyway, you may have some terrible fun waiting for your machine to calculate your move.

On a more detailed note (I love details!) some things I consider when working with shadows:

1. What is your global light doing? When the virtual lightsource is on the upper right corner, it usually makes no sense to stretch the shadow into that direction. Follow the path away from the light to stretch your shadow and create depth by applying the shadow how it would fall in a natural setting. If in doubt, go to a window, place a paper somewhere, crunch the paper a little and see how the shadow is falling when you turn the paper. It’s a great exercise for any visual artist.

2. Are there elements grounding your item? I personally don’t like it (blame it on my mild scrap ocd) when my shadow is spread where it naturally wouldn’t be spread. I smudge the shadow more to the inside of the item in these cases. Also the parts that are close to the grounding elements can’t be as far away from the background in my imagination.

3. Is the shadow strong or weak enough? As stated above, I like my shadows stronger, so most of the time I adjust the fill up to achieve a deeper tone. For more distance between item and background I might lighten the fill a little.

4. Smudge several times on one item if you want. As you see in the layout, I smudged the shadow of the photo several times. It still goes with the direction of the light, though. This makes the photo pop out of the spread even more.

Pursue The Perfect Shadow - The Zen Of Shadowing - Smudging

Details for smudging.

Let’s try this! It’s easier than it looks and it can make a huge difference on your page!

Happy smudging!

PS: I use ctrl z all the time when smudging (or using any other feature…)


AlinaAbout the Author: Alina enjoys sitting in front of her large computer screens too much. Apart from that she loves walking her dog and watching sunsets while being amazed of life in general. She is married to her best friend. Tries to manage the needs of her two cats and her dog and badly fails when they all want their cuddle time at once. Everything else is scrapping, taking photos and currently crafting. Having said that, she needs a bigger craft room.