Yesterday, I shared how to grab an object’s cast shadow and pull it into your new image. (View post here). This technique is a dream!… when it’s possible. HA! However, as you may have noticed, you need an uncluttered, smooth surface in order to execute it. There will be times where you just don’t have that luxury and you have to draw in your cast shadows by hand. If you have not had the opportunity to review my other posts on creating shadows, you can view them here…
- It’s in the shadows
- When you hit a brick wall…
- Point of contact
- How to select objects with their shadows intact…
But what if I can’t draw?
Drawing an object’s cast shadows is not complicated and you don’t have to be an amazing sketch artist to pull it off. To be completely honest, it’s a trial and error thing. Here is what I do… Add a shadow, ask myself if that looks natural, if not use the eraser tool to back it off, then add a little more shadow, ask myself if that looks natural…this is all about learning to trust your eye. Drawing shadows is not quick process. (At least not for me.) I spend a large amount of my time on this because it is the key to natural, cohesive and beautiful compositions.
Trust your eye
You know from experience what shadows look like. You see them on a daily basis. Sometimes, if I don’t know where to start, I take my round brush tool, set it to 10% Opacity & 10% Flow with hardness set to 50%, make the brush very large and just start scribbling and I let my eye guide me. You will know when it looks correct and not “contrived”.
Make a shadow brush preset
Because I use very specific brush settings for drawing shadows, I have set up a hot-key to select my shadow brush preset. I always use these settings. The only thing that changes is the brush size. Everything else stays the same.
I also use very specific settings for erasing shadows. I have set up a hot-key to select my erase brush preset as well.
To learn how to set up a hot-key for a brush preset see my blog post on hot-keys titled, “Feelin’ hot, hot, hot…”
A visual illustration of drawing cast shadows…
Step 1: Study the direction of your light source and the shadows created in your original image. As you can see, the background was not something I could pull shadows from, using the technique I described yesterday. Because of this, I need to draw the cast shadows in by hand. I start by studying the original lighting set up. In this case it was natural light, an overcast day, taken in front of my very muddy garage. LOL! I needed a “white” backdrop, (white being very loosely interpreted) because I knew the final image was also going to be white. Since I only needed a few shots, I decided not to set up a paper roll backdrop, etc… so the garage it was! Important Side Note: I always try and capture my conceptual elements on similar colored backdrops as my final image. It makes compositing much easier and gives you more “fudge” room.
Here is the final image in sequence…
That’s it for hand drawing cast shadows! Tomorrow, I have one more technique I want to share with you on creating cast shadows and then I’ll move on to the last type of shadow, which is surface shadows! Say Wha?!!! You didn’t realize there was so much to learn about creating shadows did you? LOL! XO!
Keep learning and keep #SharingItForward,
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