Shape shadow

14/09/2009

Simulating realistic environments for web-to-print designs requires attention to detail. This example demonstrates how a variable image can be layered inside an image using a shadow dropped on it.

Lets say we want to create a web-to-print or dynamic imaging template of a person standing in front of a billboard with variable content. To make it realistic, we need to add a semi transparent silhouette of that person so that it appears like the body is dropping a shadow over the billboard image even after the user changes it.

Before you start

Web-to-print before you start

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  • Import the background image and place it as the bottom layer in your CorelDRAW document.
  • Use CorelDRAW’s Polyline tool to draw a shape that covers the billboard. We will use this shape as the PowerClip container.

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In a nutshell, we are going to sandwich a PowerClip’d image placeholder between the Background and Foreground images.

Inside Adobe Photoshop

Open the image in Photoshop (or any other photo editing application) and duplicate the layer. We will use one  layer as a reference while editing the other one.

Photoshop polygonal lasso tool/

Activate Photoshop’s Polygonal Lasso tool and start clicking along the persons body to make a selection.

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Photoshop cut out background/

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Note. We only need to select the part of the body that has the billboard in its background, so don’t worry about the feet.

Invert the selection (Ctrl+Shift+I) and hit Delete to remove the background.

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Press Ctrl+J to duplicate the layer.

Web-to-print shadow position/

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Move the bottom layer to where you want the shadow to be and fill it with black (Right click/ Blending options/Color Overlay).

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Photoshop blur/

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Next we need to blur the edges of the silhouette, go to Filter/Blur.

Note. Press Ctrl+F e few times to repeat the filter until the edge of the silhouette is blurry enough.

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Photoshop transparency/

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Set the Opacity of the layer to 40%.

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Web-to-print cut shadow/

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Since we are only simulating the part of the shadow that will go over the billboard, you need to cut out parts that we don’t need.

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Web-to-print photoshop foreground image/

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Deactivate the background layer and save the image in a format that retains transparency (ex. PNG).

Inside CorelDRAW

Since CorelDRAW doesn’t allow a perspective effect to be applied on a bitmap, we’re going to skew the image to make it appear like it’s viewed from an angle and goes with the flow of the billboard. Learn how to simulate a perspective effect on a bitmap.

Note: CorelDRAW does have a bitmap effect called “perspective”, but doesn’t really do what we need since our web-to-print software doesn’t allow the perspective settings to be retained after the image is replaced.

Web-to-print place inside container/

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Place a dummy image inside the billboard shape and turn it into a variable image field.

Final step

Web-to-print foreground image/

Import the Foreground image and place it on top of all objects. The Foreground image is semi transparent and will give the illusion as it is dropping a shadow on the image placeholder.

The result should be similar to this web-to-print template.

Download the FREE CorelDRAW template file.

See also: