The Shadow Always Knows
by Christine Gundersen
One of the easiest mistakes to make when it comes to digital scrapbooking can occur when you start
rotating elements and end up with your shadows going every which way. Image 1 has a wire frame and
a set of paper strips brought into the active document, exactly the way they came out of the kit. Notice
how in both cases the drop shadows are at the BOTTOM and along the RIGHT side. The arrows are
pointing towards the light source and look they are both pointing the same way. Always a good sign,
Now, what happens if I decide I want those strips to be vertical? Almost every photo editing program
out there has the ability to rotate objects. So in Image 2, I rotated my strips 90 degrees, clockwise.
Notice what happened to my shadows. Again the arrows are pointing at the light source. The wire
frame still has its shadow at the BOTTOM RIGHT, but the strips element has its shadow at the
So hmmmmm, what to do? What to do? I know! We can flip it! Some programs call this mirror, others
call it flip. Either way, it is the same thing. In Image 3, I did a horizontal flip and behold, the shadow is
now back on the BOTTOM RIGHT.
The only tricky part is to know which way to flip. The direction depends on whether your element
starts out vertical or horizontal and whether you rotate clockwise or counterclockwise. Just remember
you want the end result of the shadows to the BOTTOM RIGHT!
Hint: Do you HAVE to choose the top left for your light source? No, of course not, especially not if you
are designing your own elements. The important thing is to make ALL of your shadows go the same
direction. At DSP, we all use a top left light source, to make it easy to mix and match, so if you want
your light source to be somewhere else, just be sure to switch all of your shadows to be consistent!
Good luck, everyone! And remember, the next time you rotate by 90 degrees or more, if you didn't flip,
as well, you probably need to take a hard look at your shadows, because “THE SHADOW KNOWS!” :D
©2009 Christine Gundersen
Items in the images are from my Bee a Prince and Ko'Olina Cove page kits.