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Drop shadow without affecting layer transparency

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Nick Matthews
Drop shadow without affecting layer transparency
on Mar 3, 2014 at 10:47:56 pm
Last Edited By Nick Matthews on Mar 3, 2014 at 10:49:30 pm

Say I have a rectangular Shape layer set to 70% opacity. I would like to apply a darker shadow all around the edges to separate it from the background, without the shadow showing through the opacity of the shape layer, darkening it.

The only way I can think to do it is to duplicate the object twice, apply a drop shadow (0 distance with Softness ramped up) to one of them, use the second copy as alpha to cut a hole in the figure of the Shape layer, then leave the third on top untouched.

I would rather not do it like this, because my actual comps have far too much in them and it would bog down preview/render time (I would like to keep it procedural, because I will be changing the shape/size of what needs the shadow).

Does that make sense?


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Mike Sevigny
Re: Drop shadow without affecting layer transparency
on Mar 4, 2014 at 12:36:01 am

hey Nick,
Two things that might help,

1. When you set the 'cast shadows' to 'on', click on the word 'on' one more time to set it to 'only'. Now only the shadows will cast.

2. If you're not using the raytrace engine with 3D layers then you can try to simply add a drop shadow layer style. Right click on your shape layer, go to 'Layer Styles' and select drop shadow. Your settings are in the timeline.

Mike Sevigny
TorusFX Inc.
http://www.torusfx.com
http://www.linkedin.com/pub/mike-sevigny/49/875/495


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Erik Waluska
Re: Drop shadow without affecting layer transparency
on Mar 4, 2014 at 4:03:29 am

Just a warning, layer styles can wreak havoc in 3D comps, doing all sorts of weird things that make no sense. Or at least up until CS6. If you do try that and things start going all hinky, then delete the "layer styles" from all of the layers in the comp. Just turning them off doesn't do it.

Erik Waluska
EAWmedia


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Nick Matthews
Re: Drop shadow without affecting layer transparency
on Mar 4, 2014 at 4:53:08 am

Thank you both for your efforts, but unless I am misinterpreting the suggestions I think I will have to get a bit more specific. See image.

I only mentioned the shape layer to keep my explanation simple, but the reality is a bit more complex. I am looking to get shadows on the edges of a comp with ~30 layers with animation, without the shadows showing through the transparent parts.

My attached example uses 3 copies of that comp to get the alpha shadow, then the normal comp over top again. Which is more taxing than it needs to be when previewing and I'd rather not go through the steps for each separate future animation. I'll do it if that's the only way, but I feel there's something I'm missing to make it simpler.

There is no 3D being used, I'm simply using renders from C4D and some creations within AE.

Thanks for your time.

shadowsample.jpg


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Walter Soyka
Re: Drop shadow without affecting layer transparency
on Mar 4, 2014 at 10:46:06 am

Walter's single-layer, transparency-avoiding drop-shadow recipe:

Levels: Alpha only, alpha gamma tweaked to crush out transparency
Fill: Black (Color will be shadow color, opacity will be shadow opacity)
Fast Blur (Blurriness will be softness)
Transform: (takes the place of offset/direction/distance)
CC Composite: Original, in front, RGB only unchecked

Walter Soyka
Principal & Designer at Keen Live
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
RenderBreak Blog - What I'm thinking when my workstation's thinking
Creative Cow Forum Host: Live & Stage Events


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Nick Matthews
Re: Drop shadow without affecting layer transparency
on Mar 4, 2014 at 5:49:31 pm

Walter, your process absolutely works with single objects like shape layers, but when I tried applying it to a composition it did not avoid the transparency like it did with the one layer.

shadowsample2.jpg

Thanks for sharing that though, I will definitely remember how to do that for other projects.


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Walter Soyka
Re: Drop shadow without affecting layer transparency
on Mar 4, 2014 at 7:33:31 pm

I said "crush the alpha" above, but I should have said "blow out the alpha" instead. If you bring that gamma slider to the right (making the gamma number very small instead of very big), then this should behave as expected -- it shouldn't matter that the source layer is a comp.

Walter Soyka
Principal & Designer at Keen Live
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
RenderBreak Blog - What I'm thinking when my workstation's thinking
Creative Cow Forum Host: Live & Stage Events


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Nick Matthews
Re: Drop shadow without affecting layer transparency
on Mar 4, 2014 at 7:55:25 pm

Oh excellent, I should've thought to tweak the setting a little more when I wasn't getting the proper result.

Works great, thanks!


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Walter Soyka
Re: Drop shadow without affecting layer transparency
on Mar 5, 2014 at 11:24:19 am

You're welcome.

You can simplify this process a bit for future work by saving this as an animation preset [link].

Walter Soyka
Principal & Designer at Keen Live
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
RenderBreak Blog - What I'm thinking when my workstation's thinking
Creative Cow Forum Host: Live & Stage Events


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