by Sharif aka Reef | 08 June 2005

Brief Introduction:
Lately, people have emailed me asking to show how to make a small nifty effect I used on lots of images. I like to call this effect a "Camera Shadow," because it's as if a person/camera is creeping upon a portion of the scenery in dark mysterious way. You've seen this done numerous times and here is the effect:

[ a shadow cast upon an old book]

Readying Up :

  1. First steps first. Open Photoshop (CS/7). We'll be editing a premade image.
  2. I found the old book from a great site: The stock images are completely free for personal work and you're missing out if you don't have an account. For now, the direct link to the image: (click here) - beware 56k, the images are large resolution.
  3. Once it's saved, open the file in Photoshop. Then, go to image > image size or simply transform the image into an fairly editable size. I've edited the dimensions of mine to be 400 by 350, for purposes of the tutorial.
  4. Select all (ctrl+a) using the marquee tool and cut this selection (ctrl+x). Close this document, because we won't work directly on it.
  5. Open a new file (ctrl+n). Photoshop should automatically detect the selection size and set the canvas to be as big as it is. So paste (ctrl+v) after the document is created. Make sure this new pasted image is on a new layer.

The Real Editing:

  1. I always edit my images, no matter how good the lighting is, so go ahead and do that if you please. If not, just skip this and continue to the next step.
  2. Create a new layer (ctrl+shift+n), this will be the layer of the shadow. Now, using the marquee tool, create a rectangle selection that is just about 75% of the image. Invert the selection (ctrl+shift+i) and fill this in black (alt+backspace) if your foreground color is set to black.

    [ a black fill over the image ]
  3. If you don't understand, just use the image above as reference. Now, go to filter > gaussian blur. Type in an amount of about 35.0. This should make it blurry and round enough. Play around with the settings, until it fits your needs.
  4. Once you do this, you can set different blend modes, tweak opacity, and do many other changes if you'd like.
    Note : Inner Shadows
    There are 2 advantages to my method. One, you achieve a nice round and blended out shadow. Two, you can add layers under the shadow! That's the most important function. If you use innershadow, the shadow will be very square and too predictable, with the fact you wont be able to add anything under the shadow. Now you can add text and other images underneath.

Last Words:
As always, I've included the source file (.psd) for you. Have a look and observe how it's done.

Download Adobe Photoshop CS File

You can always post your work, comments or any questions on the heroic KirupaForum. See you in a few!

This is my trashcan! Sharif
The Reefster


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