Hello Bar

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Moon Shadow

"I'm being followed by a moon shadow
moon shadow-moon shadow
leaping and hopping on a moon shadow
moon shadow-moon shadow"
- Cat Stevens

I had a request to show how an extracted image can be placed on a plain background with a realistic shadow. As always, there are different ways to accomplish this. This, I think, is a relatively simple and straight-forward method.

Skills used in this lesson…
  • Paste as new layer
  • Using the Move tool
  • Scale the layer to the image size
  • Using Guides
  • Feathering a selection
  • Using the Blend tool
  • Rearranging layers

Download the source image here or use one of your own.

Selecting and copying the moon from the source image are not a part of this tutorial. Assume you are ready to paste the copied selection into a new image.

So, you'll need to create a new image larger than the object you're going to paste. In this example, the new image is 900 by 900 pixels with a default white background.

Paste the moon into your new image as a new layer named "moon", Edit > Paste as… > New layer
Use the Move Tool to position the object so that it is about horizontally centered and a bit above the vertical center.

Scale the size of this layer to match the overall size of the image, Layer > Layer to image size

Drag in vertical guides to mark the left and right edges of the moon. Place horizontal guides to mark the bottom and middle of the moon.

The guides form a rectangular box containing the bottom half of the moon. Use the Ellipse Select Tool to make a selection bounded by that rectangle.

See how to do this in a short video

Feather the selection by about 50 pixels, Select > Feather…

Create a new transparent layer named "shadow".

Set the Background color to a dark gray. I used 626262.

Be sure the "shadow" layer is active, highlighted in the Layers palette.

Choose the Blend Tool, settings FG to BG, linear gradient. Drag the Blend Tool from the top left corner to the bottom right corner of the rectangle formed by the guides.

See how to do this in a short video

You can remove the selection and the guides now.

With the Move Tool, drag the "shadow" layer down and to the right a bit.

Right now the "shadow" layer should be the top layer in the Layers palette. Drag it down so that it is under the "moon" layer (but above the background layer).

To finish, I cropped the image, then filled the background layer with a light blue color (95c0f1). Flatten the image if you want to save it as a .jpg or .png file.

The basic techniques of this procedure are presented here without regard for the finer aesthetic points. Refining the image for its best, most realistic appearance is left to you.

If you have found these lessons to be helpful and worthwhile, a small donation via PayPal (Please use the button on the left) would be very much appreciated.

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