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Shadowing Clusters Tutorial

by Toiny Westberry on 7 January 2014
in Freebies,Photoshop CS+,Tutorials Pin this scrappy stuff!

Designers frequently create amazing clusters either as freebies, or as a make-my-life easy add on product.  Lately I’ve found that most of these clusters are pre-shadowed and I can just do a happy dance & slap them on my page.  Sometimes, though, they are not preshadowed.  Sometimes I am okay with that.  Shadowing can be very individual, and very dependent on your background.  However, shadowing a cluster can be difficult.  Especially one with ribbons, frames and a background splash or stamp all-included.

Today I created an unshadowed cluster  from some of  my favorite new releases: Tis The Season Clusters from Just So Scrappy, {I Am} Thankful: Messy Stamps from Two Moose Designs and On The Go – Frames from Laitha’s Designs.  I love getting something totally new by mixing up my stash!

My cluster looks pretty good:


But my cluster needs a little bit of a shadow.  First, I want to add a little pop-off-the-page magic to the ribbon element.  I change my Layer Style settings until it looks good to me.

My settings:

Blend Mode: Multiply
Opacity: 41%
Angle: 120 degrees
Distance: 22 px
Spread: 0%
Size: 16 px


Obviously this works for my ribbon, but not my whole frame cluster.  There is an easy fix for this!  Move your mouse to you Layer Palette and select your cluster layer (here Layer 1).  Right click on the teeny-tiny drop down arrow next to the fx on your layer.  Then scroll down to Create Layer and click:


Your drop shadow is now on it’s very own layer.  We can change things up now!  Be sure you are on the Layer 1’s Drop Shadow layer before moving back to your active canvas.


While on Layer 1’s Drop Shadow layer, select your erase & set it the way you like. I like mine fairly large, and with a soft edge to prevent harsh edges on my shadows.  Erase most of Layer 1’s Drop Shadow, keeping only the bits shadowing the ribbons.


Already your cluster looks much better, but the frame needs a little pizzaz too, especially around the inner borders.  You don’t want it flat & blending in with your photo.  Again add a drop shadow in your Layer Effects palette.  This time I went softer, and I stayed closer to the frame:

My settings:

Blend Mode: Multiply
Opacity: 63%
Angle: 120 degrees
Distance: 0 px
Spread: 0%
Size: 24 px


This worked great for my frame but not for my already-shadowed ribbon or stamped background.  Again move your mouse to your Layer Palette and select your cluster layer (here Layer 1).  Right click on the teeny-tine drop down arrow next to the fx on your layer.  Then scroll down to Create Layer and click.  You will now have two Layer 1’s Drop Shadow layers:


Again erase the shadow parts you will not need.  Be sure you are on the correct Layer 1’s Drop Shadow layer in your Layer Palette before erasing.  I erased all shadow away from under my stamp, and under my already-shadowed ribbons.



Now I love my cluster! It’s ready for my page.  I still have both shadow layers turned on so I can increase, or decrease, the opacity of my shadow layers dependent on my background paper.


You can download both the original cluster, and the final shadowed cluster by clicking the final image. Or click HERE!

***Download No Longer Available***

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Vicky Holden 16 January 2014 at 9:39 pm

Thank you for these wonderful clusters & your Tutorials. they are very easy to follow. Though this one doesn’t work for Photoshop Elements 12. Im new to photoshop and am finding it very hard to get easy to understand tutorials for pse 11 or 12. Thanks again for the ones that do work. Very much appreciated.


2 Pam 17 January 2014 at 11:15 am

Thank you for the tutorial … the ability to create shadows on a digi page is what has finally convinced me to start scrapping digitally. I never liked the flat look of the digital page. I, too, have PSE 12 & am just learning how to use it. Thanks for detailed tutorials! (& the freebie, too!)


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