Use Fx to Create Realistic Shadows
One of the most important things in creating a photo-realistic composite is thinking about light and shadow. When you are composing a scene with different elements, lighting needs be believable. In this mini-tutorial we are going to look at how to add shadows to extracted people or object that you add to a background. We will be using the Fx option; Drop Shadow.
Before & After:
I am going to start by placing the png of the woman into the photograph of the room. Click on the ‘Fx’ option at the bottom left hand of your layers panel and select ‘Drop Shadow’.
The default shadow color is usually black, but it is best to select a color form pre-existing shadows in your background image. Click on the color box to the right of the blend model option and use the eyedropper tool to select a color from your image (I have circled the sampled area I used in red).
At this stage, it does not matter too much about the positioning of your shadow. The most important thing is to save the shadow effect onto its’ own, independent layer so that you can manipulate the shadow without affecting the source.
On your active layer, go into the menu options and select Layer, Layer Style, Create Layer.
Your drop shadow is now on its’ own layer. Any changes you make will affect only the shadow and not your source.
When you are adding shadow, you need to think about the where the light source is coming from and how this will affect shadows. In this example the light source is coming through the windows and the woman’s shadow will therefore fall on the ground to the front of her.
With the shadow selected press CTRL T to Transform. This will select your working area. Right click the mouse key ad select Distort.
Move the shadow to the position you want. Here you can see I have anchored the starting point to her feet.
With the shadow in position, you can adjust it as you see fit. It is best to convert the layer into a Smart Object or Filter before applying any addition effects. This way you can modify your parameters at any point by double clicking on the effect layer.
I applied a Gaussian Blur Filter to soften and blend the shadow further.
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