As part of my “Creating Shadows” Blog series, I want to do a few posts on surface shadows.
If you have not had a chance to see the other posts in this series you can view them here: 1. It’s In the Shadows… 2. When You Hit A Brick Wall… 3. The Point of Contact 4. How To Select Objects With Their Shadows Intact 5. Adding Cast Shadows By Hand 6. Using Photoshop’s default action to create cast shadows…
Firstly, what are surface shadows? Surface shadows are essentially “textures”. They are the shadows and highlights on a surface that tell your viewer what texture your object has. You may never have thought about “textures’ as being shadows. However, if you break down what a texture is, they are the peaks and valleys on the surface that either block or reflect light. When you see a texture, what you are actually seeing are these peaks and valleys. You’re seeing that play of light and shadow which tells you how smooth or rough a surface is. If a surface does not have a texture then there wouldn’t be any highlights and shadows and your object would look “flat” and all one color.
Another example would be the highlights and shadows created when fabric is rippling and moving.
(Stock image of fabric by Winesmoke on DeviantArt. Found here.)
One of the techniques I use to manipulate surface shadows, especially on skin and fabric, is dodge and burn. You can change the “depth” of shadows to create a harder shadow, which gives the viewer the impression of a directional light. Sometimes you can lighten shadows and darken highlights in order to “change the direction of the light” on an object.
The following technique is by Andrei Oprinca from PSDbox.com. There are 1000’s tutorials out there on dodge and burn. However, I chose to show you this one because of HOW dodge and burn is used, which is to enhance shadows and highlights that are already there. Many times you can make slight changes in the direction of the light by just burning down light areas and dodging dark ones. This technique of dodge and burn is a great technique to have in your PhotoShop tool kit. I use this technique at some point, on every image I create. It is a non destructive way to lighten and darken which means you are not doing anything that you can’t “undo” if you go too far.
The next video is how to create an action for this technique of dodge and burn.
Tomorrow, I will go over how to make the surface shadows, on the different elements of your image, “match” in intensity and contrast. Sometimes, when you are compositing different elements together, because the elements were taken in all different lighting conditions they look too “flat” or not “3D” enough compared to the rest of your image. I’ll going to show you how to fix it. 🙂
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