Paper shadow

Step 1. Let’s start by opening a new document (size 540 × 540 pixels at 72ppi).

To get started, we need a photo with which we will work, so open the photo, press the key combination Ctrl-A, to select everything, and then copy the photo by clicking Ctrl-C, then close the file with the photo, and return to the created new document.

Click Ctrl-V, to paste the copied photo into a new document and resize it if necessary by clicking Ctrl-T, to trigger Free Transform. Do not forget to hold the key SHIFT, resizing to keep the proportions of your photo.

Step 2. This effect looks best when the image has a border, and for this we will use Layer stylePerform a stroke (Stroke) to create a border. Right click on the photo layer and select Overlay options (Blending Options) from the menu to bring up the dialog box Layer styles (Layer Styles). Select Perform a stroke (Stroke) from the list on the left and enter the following settings. Click Ok, when you are done to apply the Layer Style.

(* Note: note that I have switched the placement of the stroke to the Inside, so that we avoid the effect of the rounded corner created by doing a stroke outside the photo, thus keeping sharp corners.)

Step 3. Now let’s get to the main point of the photo. Combination Ctrl-click to the Photos layer icon in the Layers palette to load the photo selection. Create a new layer by clicking on the add layer icon at the bottom of the layers palette (I called this layer the Highlight).

Press key G, to go to the tool Gradient (Gradient Tool). Press key D, to reload foreground and background colors to black and white, then press X, to switch the foreground color in the Tools palette to white. In the parameters Gradient, which are at the top of Photoshop, select from foreground to transparent color and make sure that it is selected Gradient Linear Style (Linear Gradient).

Step 4. Now create a selection by clicking and dragging the gradient from the bottom right corner towards the center of the photo, as shown below. Lower the opacity of filling this layer to 50%.

Do not clear the selection, we will use it for a few more steps.

Step 5. Create a new layer above the layer Highlight and name the Shadow. You have another tool selected. Gradient , press the X key to switch the foreground color to black, and drag it from the left corner of the photo to the center to create a shadow as shown below. Lower fill opacity to approximately 15%.

Selection does not remove!

Step 6. Now we will create a shadow for our photo, which will give it the effect of “jumping from the page.”

Start by creating a new layer under the Photo layer and name the Shadow. Click Alt-backspace, to fill the selection with black. Of course, this black rectangle will not be visible, because it is behind the photo, but we will take care of this in a minute.

To soften the edges of the shadow, we’re going to use Gaussian blur (Gaussian Blur). Click Ctrl-d, to deselect and then select Filter> Blur> Gaussian Blur (Filter> Blur> Gaussian Blur) from the main menu. For my example, I will use a value of 4 pixels, then click Ok, to make a blur.

Step 7. All that is left is to change the shadow to create the correct look. We will use the tool Arbitrary transformation (Free Transform) to use it select Editing> Transformation> Warp (Edit> Transform> Warp) from the main menu to select the function Deformations. Unlike the Free Transform, the Warp function allows us to transform in all directions as we move the end points or any point in the editing frame.

Step 8. In each corner, drag the dots and adjust the levers to create the effect as we see below.

Step 9. Lower the opacity of the Shadow layer to approximately 50% to complete the effect.

Step 10. Add a background, rotate a photo, add anything else … there is some fun in it. Remember that any rotation of the photos will change the way the shadow will be cast, the Highlight and the Shadow layer above the photo will also change (take a look at the first photo). Make your effect believable by being consistent in your lighting.

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