Inner Shadow


Sometime last year, I purchased some templates that had a paper cut-out. I thought it was a neat effect, so I made some pages with cut-outs… I loved the effect, but it turns out I wasn’t using the best technique for it.

The “Old Way” of Cutting Holes in Paper

Now, don’t pay too close attention here because I’m going to tell you a much better way after! I used to (1) create a shape, like the rectangle in the sample below, (2) select the shape with ‘marching ants’, (3) select the paper layer in the layer palette, and then (4) hit delete to cut a hole in the paper in the form of the selected shape, and (5) hide the shape itself. It works perfectly fine, except that the cut out hole cannot be moved. So, if the cut-out would have looked better an inch to the left, the “hole” would have to be repaired or, more likely, the cut paper would have to be deleted and replaced with a new paper and the cut re-done.


(Note that in this method, the shadow is a drop shadow on the solid paper.)

The “New Way” of Cutting Holes in Paper

One day back in December, I was listening to The Digi Show podcast episode A Trend That Aggravates Me. Peppermint Granberg of One Little Bird Designs made a comment on the show about a better way of doing cut-outs.

Enter the “inner shadow”.

I don’t know how, but I’d never heard of it. Sure enough, there it was in the “fx” menu in the layers palette.


The inner shadow menu looks the same as the familiar drop shadow menu. I copied my usual drop shadow settings and inputted them into the inner shadow menu. (You can find some drop shadow ideas in this section of The Daily Digi.)

Here’s the result:


(Note how in this method the shadow is an inner shadow on the rectangle shape, which has the striped paper clipped to it.)

To save time in the future, I saved my inner shadow settings as a style so that I can apply it in one click from now on.

Here is the first layout I made trying this technique. (The cut-out doodle stars have an inner shadow on them.) It was so freeing to be able to move them around the page until I found the “right” spot for them.


This little process change made cut-outs much easier and something that I can quickly try in various places on a page. I love learning new tricks in Photoshop!

PS – The title graphic was made using papers and elements from The Daily Digi member exclusive kit My Life. The examples were made using One Little Bird Design’s kit Narrative.