PI7 Make a More Realistic Perspective Shadow

realistic perspective shadowPI creates great perspective shadows for you, automatically. But have you ever noticed how true shadows are not uniformly the same color throughout? In reality, shadows tend to be darker closer to an object, and lighter farther away.

This tutorial shows how to use Split Shadow, the Fadeout command and Gaussian Blur to create a softer and more realistic looking perspective shadow.

You can use any object you like to follow along, or use my country bunny object, which you can get here.

Open the object in the work space. While it's active, right click and choose Shadow. When the Shadow dialog box opens, select the shadow thumbnail which casts a perspective shadow that falls to the right (or left) of the object. Leave the default values for the shadow as they are.

perspective shadow option

Click OK to apply the shadow. Notice that it's solid gray, all the way. Right click on the active object and choose Split Shadow. You won't see an immediate change in the base image, as the object is still active. Hit the space bar to deactivate the object. Use the Pick tool to click on the shadow to make it active.

select shadow

Note that only the shadow is active, since you have split it from its corresponding object. Choose Edit, Fadeout (or hit Ctrl+H) to access the Fadeout dialog box. Choose a Two-Color, black to white fadeout with the attributes shown below. Be sure to select the correct Fill Type.

two color fadeout, black to white

Click OK to apply the Fadeout. Note that the ears and top of the head, the parts of the shadow cast farthest from the object, are significantly lighter than the rest of the shadow. The part of the shadow nearest the object, the feet and body, are darker.

results of fadeout

In order to soften the shadow further, it is necessary to blur it. This requires you to Cut the object out and merge the shadow with the base image, blur the base image, then Paste the object back into it. If you're not feeling confident about your ability to Paste the object back into the right place, right click on it and select Properties to open the Object Properties dialog box. From the Position & Size tab, note the Left and Top pixel coordinates of the object. In the screen shot below, you can see that the object is at 74 (Left) and 50 (Top).

left and top coordinates

Make a note to yourself about the Left and Top location of the object, then click Cancel to close the dialog box. Hit Ctrl+X to cut the object (not the shadow) out of the base image. Right click in the base image and choose Merge All. This will merge the shadow with the base image.

Choose Effect, Blur & Sharpen, Gaussian Blur. When the Gaussian Blur dialog box opens, select an option. I've selected the thumbnail shown below, but I encourage you to experiment with other settings.

gaussian blur dialog box

Click OK to apply the Gaussian Blur setting. Hit Ctrl+V to paste the object back into the image. Either drag to position it by eye or, to put it back exactly where it was before, right click and choose Properties. When the Object Properties dialog box opens, from the Position & Size tab, enter the position coordinates you noted earlier (e.g., Left=74, top=50) and click OK. The object will be placed exactly where it was before.

Right click and Merge All.

This tutorial uploaded 8/16/02


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