Deke's Techniques 300: Blending an Object's Shadow into Any Background
In this week's free Deke's Techniques video, Deke shows you how to blend the cast shadow of an object---particularly a standard stock photo-type object against a white background---into any new background. The trick is to use the Multiply blend mode to capture all the goodness of the shadow and mix it with its new environment, then put white pixels behind the actual object so that the opaque object itself doesn't blend.
The technique works great for the volleyball that Deke uses in the movie, but I found myself wondering how it would work with say...a giant hunk of swiss cheese. Yes, I'm going to attempt to move my own cheese.
Although my object isn't quite as easy to select as a nicely uniform round volleyball (which naturally lent itself to the ellipse tool), grabbing it with the Quick Selection tool actually worked fairly well. Rather than use a shape layer to provide the white backdrop, as Deke does in the video, I just filled my selection with white on a new layer between my cheese and my potential backgrounds.
Once the Cheese layer is set to the Multiply blend mode, the white pixels of the original background disappear and the shadow casts nicely onto my new tabletop scene. The Whiteness layer prevents the cheese itself from blending, as well.
OK, Deke claims this will work on any background. Let's see how it worked on the kitchen floor. (It's so hard to keep white tile clean!)
Let's see how it looks lakeside. Sure, the cheese looks a tiny bit radioactive, but look how well the shadow blends in. It's actually still cheese-colored, now blending nicely with the wood of the dock.
Check out the video to see how it works, and then adapt to your own objects and backgrounds at will. And for members of lynda.com, Deke's got an exclusive movie this week in which he shows you how to save your shadow against a transparent background, allowing you to use your object and its itinerant shadow in places that don't support blend modes like Keynote, Power Point, and your friendly web presence.