Drop Shadows

Drop shadows provide an illusion of depth on a page so that parts of the image or text appear to be floating above the page and you pretty much find them everywhere.

Paint Shop Pro has a couple of built-in features to achieve these results but they have their limitations.

In this tutorial you'll discover a few different methods to produce the illusion of depth to your order, including making your own from scratch..

Before we look at the way to make your own custom drop shadows, let’s check out Paint Shop Pro's built-in methods first.

3D Effects

3D Effects

I’ve created some text in Paint Shop Pro.

drop shadows straight text

It’s on a vector layer that’ll need to be changed to a raster layer before we can do anything with it.  Layers > Convert to Raster Layer

You can, of course, just go straight to the next step, and Paint Shop Pro will remind you and do it for you anyway.  Now select Effects > 3D Effects > Drop Shadow to bring up the following Drop Shadows dialogue.

drop shadows box

Simply clicking OK will produce this on the line of text ...

drop shadows on text

So you can set the properties of the shadow, such as ....
  • Vertical and Horizontal Offset
  • The Attributes - Opacity, Blur and Color, and
  • Whether to put the Drop Shadow on a new layer.
If you find this one far too brash and over powering then there are a number of different adjustments that can be made to tone it down somewhat.

Layer Properties

There is another method of achieving drop shadows.

In the example I’ve chosen, I generated some text and duplicated the layer.  The lower of the two text layers was selected in the layers palette and converted to a raster layer.

Layers > Convert to raster layer

Then with the layer still selected, layer properties box was chosen Layers > Properties.

dropo shadows layer properties

You have the same drop shadow choices as in the one described at the start of the tutorial, ie limited options, but you do have some creative possibilities opened up by combinations of the contents of the other tick boxes.

I chose outer glow; changed its colour to blue; and reduced its opacity before moving the layer into place ...

drop shadows layer method

drop shadows light direction
The little light source icon is very, very touchy so be careful with it and be prepared to go back and do it a few times until you are fully satisfied.

But that’s a regular shadow, what if you want the right bottom corner much lower?  What if you’ve got lots of different stuff on your page and you want it all shadowed exactly to the same extent?

Making Your Own
Drop Shadows

I needed to create a front cover for a special person’s photobook.  Each of the images was pasted as a new layer above the background layer.

The background layer (for the new master image) was created by File > New then setting the size I needed together with its colour.

Each image was opened in turn and selected using Edit > Copy And then with the new master image selected Edit > Paste as New Layer.

There were 7 images, and so 7 new layers in my master.

drop shadows seven images

For reference, here's the layer's palette after adding the images ...

drop shadows layers palette

Select each one of these new layers in turn and duplicate it to make the shadow layers.

Layers > Duplicate

Then move it to the bottom of the layers stack Layers > Arrange > Send to Bottom

Each shadow needs to be created. Select one of the layers you’ve made and then Adjust > Brightness and Contrast > Threshold.

drop shadow threshold

You’ll probably need a value close to 255 for an image, but a lot less for any text.

Once they are converted and at the bottom of the stack they need to be combined into one layer.  So select the top one of the new layers and drop it into the one below using ... Layers > Merge > Merge Down ... until all the shadows sit in one layer.

With the images ‘switched off’ you can see the shadows which were created.

drop shadows seven shadows

With the ‘Pick Tool’ and the shadow layer selected you can distort the image like any other layer.  There are 8 handles on the layer, moving the handle has the following effects.

You can use the SHIFT and CTRL on the keyboard, but a less difficult method is the use of the control button on the Tool Options-Pick Tool bar.

drop shadows pick options

Perspective Scale

No distortion


No distortion

The opposite corner on the same side move in synchrony, pulling the corner in also pulls the opposite corner in;  the opposite edge is unchanged.


The corner is moved so that both edges attached to it move in and out.


The edge is distorted in the direction in which you pull it;  the opposite edge is unchanged

The edge is distorted in the direction in which you pull it;  the opposite edge is unchanged
Handle is deactivated.

The edge is pulled out parallel to its original position.


In the centre of the image there is an additional handle which allows undistorted movement of the layer to wherever you wish (circled in red on this screen shot of one of my projects - Rich).

drop shadows nodes

In my image, it was this movement I chose.

Holding the pointer near to the corner displays a rotate symbol, and thus the shadow could be rotated too around the centre pivot point.

The shadow will need softening Adjust > Blur > Gaussian Blur.

The amount of blur should be small if the distortion is small, but large if the distortion of the shadow is large.

Then all that remains is to make the shadow paler by setting the opacity of the blend to a smaller value; in my example I chose 12%.

drop shadow final image

The last image is to show the effect you can’t create with the Effects > 3D Effects > Drop Shadow from the Corel menu.

drop shadows shadow

Using the bottom corner handle with the CTRL key the pick box was dragged in slightly so that the red letters appear to sit above the shadow. Of course, the shadow layer has had a Gaussian blur added and the opacity lowered.

So there you have it;  three methods; three techniques;  a large number of possible variations of ways of enhancing shadows.

Drop Shadows
Page Links

3D Effects

Layer Properties

Make Your Own

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