Sunday, November 29, 2009

Basic Drop Shadows in Paint Shop Pro

Drop shadows are the key to making a digital layout look realistic and can be so difficult for new scrappers! I don't claim to be a shadow expert but I can show you how changing your drop shadow settings affects your shadows.


Opacity refers to how much you can see through the shadow. Varying the opacity changes the harshness of the shadows. Generally, items that are closer to the page have a more opaque shadow and those that are farther away have a lower opacity.


Adjusting the blur setting can give your shadow a hard edge or a softer edge. Generally, items close to the page need a lower blur setting while items farther from the page need a higher blur setting.


Changing the vertical and horizontal offset changes the direction of the shadow. The most important thing to remember is that it should look like the same light is causing all the shadows on your page which means that all shadows should fall in the same direction. This is especially important to remember if you are using pre-shadowed items or pre-made clusters. You'll want the other shadows on your page to fall in the same direction as the shadows on these elements.


Changing the numbers in the offset fields can also change the size of your shadow. Generally,thin items will cast a smaller shadow while thicker items will cast a bigger shadow.

What shadow settings should I use?

This is what new scrappers want to know but it's a hard question to answer! The best answer is that "it depends" and that you'll have to play with the settings until it looks right. Unfortunately, there's no one magic shadow setting that works well in every layout. However, here are some places to start with different elements. Start here and then play with those settings until it looks right to you!

  • Paper (including stickers, alphas, tags, etc.) - I generally use an offset of 3-6, an opacity of 60-75, and a blur of 10-15.
  • String or ribbon - I start with an offset of about 15, an opacity of 40-50, and a blur of 25-40.
  • Buttons - I start with an offset of about 8-10, an opacity of about 50-60, and a blur of 15-25.
  • Staple or other small fastener - I start with an offset of 2-5, an opacity of about 60-75, and a blur of 10-15.

Be sure to add your shadows as a separate layer so you can change them later if you want to! You can add a gaussian blur, lower the opacity, change the blend mode, etc. after you've added the shadow.

Using templates with Paint Shop Pro

Templates are a great way to help start your layout - I use them often! Using them in Paint Shop Pro isn't difficult, but it is different from Photoshop or PSE.

First, open your template. You CAN use photoshop (PSD) templates in Paint Shop Pro as well as PSPImage templates (yes, there are some designers out there who make them!) However, you can't use TIFF templates with PSP.

Adding the background paper is easy. Open the paper you want to use and copy/paste it into place above the background layer of your template.

The other paper and photo layers start the same way. Copy and paste the paper you would like to use above the shape you'd like to "clip" it to. Switch layers so the shape layer is the active layer. Go to the Selections menu and choose "Select All". You will see marching ants around the perimeter of your layout.

Go back to the Selections menu and choose "float".

This will put the marching ants only around your shape. You will also see a new layer above your shape layer.

On the Selections menu again choose "defloat". This will remove that extra layer but leave the marching ants only around the shape.

In your layer palette, click on your paper that you'd like to "clip". The marching ants will move with you to the new layer. Go to the Selections menu and select "Invert" to select everything outside the shape.

Press delete on your keyboard and you will delete everything outside the shape - effectively clipping the paper to the template! Right-click or press ctrl-D to remove your selections.

You can add a photo to the template in a similar way. Open a photo and copy/paste it above the layer you want to "clip" it to. Reduce the opacity of the photo so you can see both the photo and the shape beneath it.

Move and resize the photo until it's positioned how you like. (Resize the photo using the corners only so you don't distort the photo.) Then switch to the template layer and go through the same steps - Select All, Float, Defloat, switch layers, Invert, and Delete. You have added your photo to the template!

Many templates have guides for titles, journaling, and embellishments. You can use these to help with placement or personalize it by adding them wherever you like! Hide or delete the template layers, add shadows, and your layout is done! Be sure to save your layout with a new name so you can keep the original template.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

NDISB Challenges!

Come join the July challenges at NDSIB! We have several challenges this month and most feature a participation bonus or a free item to use in your layout for the challenge.