• Adding Drop Shadows to Vellum in Photoshop and Elements

    Vellum embellishments and papers have a lovely transparent appearance. They are great to use over photos or papers to get a softening effect on the original image. Adding a drop shadow to vellum can be a bit tricky. Trying the usual method results in a darkening of the vellum. Here’s how to give vellum a realistic looking drop shadow.

    In Photoshop:

    Open a piece of digital paper and a vellum image that you’d like to shadow. Get the Move tool and drag the vellum image onto the background paper.
    Next, add a drop shadow to the vellum layer by using one of Katie’s drop shadow styles or by selecting the layer and choosing Layer > Layer Style > Drop Shadow from the Menu bar at the top of the screen. Tweak the shadow to your liking and click OK. You’ll get a drop shadow, but the vellum will turn gray.
    Next, put the drop shadow on its own layer by selecting the vellum layer and choosing Layer > Layer Style > Create Layer from the Menu bar. A warning box will pop up. Click OK. (Alternatively, you can right-click the word “drop shadow” under the vellum layer in the Layers panel and choose Create Layer from the pop-up menu.)
    In the Layers panel, you’ll now have the vellum layer on top. The shadow will be under it.
    Now you’ll want to get rid of the gray portion under the vellum. First hide the drop shadow layer by clicking the Layer Visibility icon which looks like an eyeball on the left side of the shadow layer in the Layers panel.
    Get a selection tool like the Rectangular or Elliptical Marquee. Choose a selection tool that matches the shape of your vellum. Zoom in and make a careful selection around your vellum embellishment by clicking and dragging the cursor around the image. Turn the layer visibility back on the drop shadow layer by clicking the Layer Visibility icon again.
    Select the shadow layer and click the Add Layer Mask icon at the bottom of the Layers panel. This places a second thumbnail on the drop shadow layer. Double-click the mask icon on that layer and select “invert” at the bottom of the properties dialogue box. This hides the portion of the shadow under the vellum embellishment.
    Finally, hold down the Ctrl key (Mac: Cmd key) and click the vellum layer as well as the drop shadow layer. Click the link icon in the Layers panel to link the vellum to its shadow.


    In Elements:

    Open a piece of digital paper and a vellum image that you’d like to shadow. Get the Move tool and drag the vellum image onto the background paper.
    Next, add a drop shadow to the vellum layer by using one of Katie’s drop shadow styles or by selecting the layer and choosing Layer > Layer Style > Style Settings > Drop Shadow from the Menu bar at the top of the screen. You’ll get a drop shadow, but the vellum will turn gray,
    Next, put the drop shadow on its own layer. Double-click the fx icon at the right side of the vellum layer in the Layers panel. This brings up the Style Settings dialogue box. Under Drop Shadow, move the Distance slider to the right until the drop shadow is separated from the vellum completely. Click OK. With the vellum layer selected, choose Layer > Simplify Layer. Get the Marquee tool and select your vellum embellishment, but not the shadow. Right-click inside your selection and choose Layer via cut. Now look over in the Layers panel. You’ll see the vellum embellishment on top, with the shadow layer underneath it.
    Now get the Move tool and drag the vellum layer over the shadow layer, lining it up so that the shadow peeks out from under the vellum in the position of your choice.
    Now you’ll want to get rid of the gray portion under the vellum. First hide the drop shadow layer by clicking the Layer Visibility icon which looks like an eyeball on the left side of the shadow layer in the Layers panel.
    Get a selection tool like the Rectangular or Elliptical Marquee. Choose a selection tool that matches the shape of your vellum. Zoom in and make a careful selection around your vellum embellishment by clicking and dragging the cursor around the image. Turn the layer visibility back on the drop shadow layer by clicking the Layer Visibility icon again.
    Select the drop shadow layer and press Delete or Backspace on your keyboard. Press Ctrl D (Mac: Cmd D) on your keyboard to remove the selection. You’ll be left with the shadow outside of the vellum, but the gray backing will be deleted.
    Finally, hold down the Ctrl key (Mac: Cmd key) and click the vellum layer as well as the drop shadow layer. Click the link icon on the left side of the layer to link the vellum to its shadow.