Semi-transparent “real” shadows in Photoshop

[This is an ancient draft note I forgot to publish. Had to dig it out for a current task so figured it was time to press go.]

Struck upon a good way to isolate a semi-transparent, real shadow in Photoshop CC when trying to remove the background of an image. This can be appropriate for things such as package or portfolio shots.

This technique seems to work well so long as the shadow is against a fairly even background. An example of where I’ve found this useful is with some scans of booklet spreads. A false shadow wouldn’t look right because it wouldn’t have the variable character of the original shadow.

  1. Draw path around object throwing the shadow (omitting the shadow).
  2. Copy/paste object on to new layer. cmd + J
  3. Select layer w/ full image.
  4. Use Color Range to select the shadows. Switch the dropdown to “Shadows”. The fuzziness and range will really depend on your image, so start in the middle for each and it out a few times to see what works best. Usually fuzziness = 100% and range = 70 works well for me.
  5. With the shadows selected, create a new empty layer above the full image layer.
  6. In the new empty layer, fill the selection with black or a similar dark colour.
  7. Turn off the full image layer visibility to remove the background, and adjust the opacity of the shadow layer. I found that 80% works well.

The downside of this technique is that the replicated shadow ends up being a flat colour and is missing the natural hue nuances, but overall this worked well for my purposes.

Video tutorial on P5 and Prim’s Algorithm by Daniel Shiffman

I’ve wanted to do this for ages with Distributaries. I tried to find a minimum distance solution that wasn’t OTT back when I started collecting location coordinates, but I probably wasn’t using the right vocabulary in my searches… ended up ordering them manually (!). Would like to get this in place, I think the manual ordering is part of the reason I’ve been tardy in adding more coordinates.

Blender reference links

Black and white rendering of an 8 page gate fold leaflet done with the Blender Internal engine by Piper Haywood

Render of 8pp gate fold, done with Blender Internal engine

Been experimenting with Blender these past few months, pretty incredible free/open source 3D software. Definitely a bit of a learning curve, but very addictive and satisfying once you get the hang of it.

Links to some of the more helpful tutorials and info I’ve found are listed below. I switched from the Blender Internal engine to Cycles recently for improved results w/ architectural rendering, so some of these links are specific to Cycles.

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Sushi-making reference

Got a crash-course in sushi making from a lovely guy over New Year’s. I’d always wanted to make it, but it’s one of those things that’s a lot easier to get the hang of when someone shows you what to do. I’d also always been nervous about the raw fish bit (love eating it, but not so sure where to find sushi-grade fish at home…). Never really thought to just make vegetarian rolls (d’oh!).

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Moving from London to San Francisco – Nicolas Gallagher

Moving from London to San Francisco – Nicolas Gallagher

Though I was born in and have lived the majority of my life in the US, I’m not familiar with being an adult in the states. Not exactly sure how I’d go about opening an American bank account, and definitely not sure how to get a new mobile plan (thank goodness for giffgaff and untethered iPhones). Just a strange thing to realise, really.