To shadow? Or not to shadow? I just wish that was the question. But the question is much more. How much? How little? How deep? How bright? How wide? Just… how?

Today we are going to cover shadowing light & bright pages & elements. Just in time for our Cherry Blossom Festival, this tutorial will help you get the look you want for your Spring pages.

I’m using pieces from the Cherry Blossom Mega, free to all those that play every day in our Cherry Blossom Festival (April 03 – 22 in our forum). As always, I’m working in Photoshop CC and this tutorial should work the same in Elements.

Most of us tend to find our shadow style and stick to it, come hell or high water. I challenge all of you guilty of this to mix it up and change those shadow settings depending on your page, the light, the brightness, the happiness you are scrapping.

The Cherry Blossom elements are bright & light. They deserve to stand out on their own. They don’t deserve to be weighted down and made dreary with too dark, too heavy shadows.

For this tutorial, I’ve chosen a plain black shadow using the multiply blend mode. Different colors and blend modes can add even more dimension and movement to your page, today I want to focus only on the difference between heavy and light.

I’ve turned off all the layers except the flowers. I’m going to re-shadow my flowers using my new, lighter settings.

  • Click on the layer to change its’ shadow style; then
  • Click on the layer style icon (fx) in the bottom menu of the Layers Palette

Choose the pop-up option, Drop Shadow to get right to your Layer Style choices.

  • I am keeping all my settings the same except my Opacity
  • My initial Drop Shadow settings are:
    • Blend Mode Multiply (black hex #000000)
    • Opacity = 50%
    • Angle = 120°
      tip: keep your Use Global Light checked to have your shadow directions match
    • Distance = 30 px
    • Spread = 0%
    • Size = 40 px

I really want to brighten this up. I am happy with all my other setting except Opacity. For this light, bright page I’m dialing it all the way down to 15%

  • My new Drop Shadow settings are:
    • Blend Mode Multiply (black hex #000000)
    • Opacity = 15%
    • Angle = 120°
      tip: keep your Use Global Light checked to have your shadow directions match
    • Distance = 30 px
    • Spread = 0%
    • Size = 40 px

I like the way my flower is once again the star of this cluster. It is no longer weighted down by a too dark, to heavy shadow. Now I want to copy this layer style onto all the other flowers as well.

  • Click on the layer with the drop shadow style you like
  • Then right-click to access the pop-up menu
  • Click on Copy Layer Style

The pop-up menu disappears once you click on Copy Layer Style. Now simply paste your new drop shadow style to all the other flowers.

  • Click on your first flower then use Shift-Click to select all the other flowers
  • Right-Click to access the pop-up menu
  • Click on Paste Layer Style

TaDA! Now all your flowers are beautifully, lightly, drop-shadowed.

I made similar changest to the other elements in my cluster. Using slightly different settings for leaves, string & the butterfly.

  • My foliage Drop Shadow settings are:
    • Blend Mode Multiply (black hex #000000)
    • Opacity = 15%
    • Angle = 120°
      tip: keep your Use Global Light checked to have your shadow directions match
    • Distance = 38 px
    • Spread = 0%
    • Size = 32 px

My string drop-shadow settings are:

  • My new Drop Shadow settings are:
    • Blend Mode Multiply (black hex #000000)
    • Opacity = 20%
    • Angle = 120°
      tip: keep your Use Global Light checked to have your shadow directions match
    • Distance = 25 px
    • Spread = 0%
    • Size = 13 px

And finally, my butterfly drop shadow style is:

  • My new Drop Shadow settings are:
    • Blend Mode Multiply (black hex #000000)
    • Opacity = 18%
    • Angle = 120°
      tip: keep your Use Global Light checked to have your shadow directions match
    • Distance = 102 px
    • Spread = 0%
    • Size = 43 px

You can follow along with the tutorial. Or simply reduce the opacity on your own favorite styles. Or to make it really easy, you can download my free Bright & Light styles set. I’ve included the pre-shadowed cluster for you as well. Enjoy!