Creating a Shadow with It’s Own Layer









Juliana Kneipp: Truly, Madly, Deeply  Font: Bebas, VT Portable Remington

Shadows are the finishing touches on my layout. After everything is placed and my journaling is written, I start at the bottom of my layers palette and work my way up adding beautiful shadows. Nothing finishes off a layout so perfectly. I always start off with a pretty basic layer style (size 5, distance 5, and an opacity of 40) then adjust as seems appropriate for the element. Sometimes while adding my shadows I come across an element that just doesn’t look right with a layer style. Because of where it is placed (tucked under another layer for example), the layer style makes it look even more unrealistic. By putting the shadow on it’s own layer, you are able to adjust, erase, and give it that realisitic touch. It’s easy. I’ll show you how.

Here is my layout using Juliana Kneipp’s Truly Madly Deeply found in May’s Digi Files. It is a gorgeous kit and I immediately thought of this photo of my Grandparents.










Layout by Monica Lifferth. Supplies: Truly, Madly, Deeply by Juliana Kneipp; Stitched by Anna Aspnes No. 3;  Font: Jane Austen

I wanted to tuck the blue stamp in the library pocket. I love how it tied in with my Grandma’s dress.

This is what it looked like with a layer style (on the left) and then with a shadow on it’s own layer (on the right). It’s a small detail but makes a big impact.


Font: VT Portable Remington

Here we go! (Just so you know, I use PS Elements 6. Anyone out there still with me? I will update someday. *sigh*)

Step 1: Select the element you want to create the shadow for by pressing control and clicking on the thumbnail in the layers palette. You should see the marching ants happily marching around your element.

Step 2: With the element layer highlighted in the layers palette. Press control while clicking on the new layer button. This will give you a new layer underneath the selected element rather than above. (I love this little hint.)

Step 3: With the new layer highlighted. Grab your paint bucket and fill in the element with a dark brown to black color. You shouldn’t see anything happen because it is underneath your element.

If your element changed colors then press Control-Z and make sure your new layer is highlighted. You can check by clicking on the little eyeball next to your element on the layers palette. You should then see your new painted element. Press Control-D to deselect your element.

In this image, I’ve clicked on the eyeball to turn off my stamp and show my filled in new layer. I renamed the layer “stamp shadow”.

Step 4: Next, with your new painted shadow layer highlighted, click on Filter-> Blur-> then Gaussian Blur. Set your radius to around 5 pixels and click “OK”. This gives your shadow a fuzzy edge to make it look more realistic.

Step 5: With the shadow layer highlighted, nudge it in the direction you want the shadow to show. I will nudge it down a couple of nudges then to the right a couple of nudges or in this layout I nudged it up then to the left. This will depend on your other elements and where your “light” is shining on your layout. You can also resize if necessary or warp. I resized down a bit in this case.







Step 6: You can stop with the previous step but because I wanted to give my stamp a tucked look, I needed to lose some of the shadow on the underside of the stamp. All I did was use the eraser tool with a soft edge to erase some of the shadow.

That’s it! I love how this little detail gives my layout one more special touch. One thing I know is there is usually more than one way to do something in Photoshop. This is just one way. You can find more articles about shadows in The Daily Digi archives. Check some of them out!

Drop Shadows by Steph

To Shadow or Not to Shadow by Katie

Shadowing Tutorials

Have a great day!