using Paintshop

Adding a realistic shadow:

I used Paintshop Pro XI for this one.

Click HERE to go back to the "Paintshop Index page."

I had a picture of a highway and a drawing (not photo) of a man that I wanted on that highway, WITH a realistic-looking shadow of that man ON that highway. Note that my man picture shows the man on a white background; a nice, even background which is quite different from all edges of the man; this makes it easier to remove the white background. First try, I had used a picture of a caribou but the animal is "wide" compared to the man and that makes this procedure awkward to use as you can see at the bottom of this page.


I do suggest working with COPIES of your pictures just to be safe. I used a JPG for the highway photo and a GIF for the drawing of a man.

1. Open both pictures in Paintshop Pro. I named mine "man.gif" and "calgary.jpg". Both could just as well have been JPGs.

2. Show both pictures at 100% size to see if the man looks to be the right size for that highway picture; if they don't match very well, resize one or both now.

3. First, the man picture:

- With your "Background Eraser" tool, erase the background in short pieces; not one long sweep. I had mine set like this:

PSP toolbar

That should change the entire white background to a checkerboard; i.e. it is now "transparent."

4. "Edit | Copy"

5. Activate the highway picture and "Layers | Add new raster layer" and then "Edit | Paste as new selection" and drop the man where you want him on the road.

NOTE: IF YOU find that the background had not been removed quite correctly, then "Edit | Undo....." to remove the man from the road and activate the other picture again. There, "Edit | Undo" until you have un-done the poor erasing. Then re-erase that part. It MIGHT be necessary to actually make a minor change on the actual picture, with a paintbrush or other tool; hopefully not.

At this point, my screen showed this:


6. When you are happy with that, "Selections | Select none" and go back to the man picture.

7. "Image | Free rotate" and I set it for "right" "free" and 35 degrees

8. Use your eye-dropper to grab some black from the man and use the "Flood fill" tool to make all parts of him, face included, black.

9. Now activate your "Pick" tool. That will put a box around the leaning man. Now you can change his shape, angle and dimensions to suit yourself.

10. When you are happy with the look of the angle of the shadow, "Edit | Copy"

11. Back to the highway picture and "Layers | Add new raster layer" and then "Edit | Paste as new selection" and drop the leaning man where the shadow should be.

12. In the "Layers" palette, click the little slider to reduce the "Opacity" to the left; possibly as low as 14. Then move the handles on the square box which appears around the grey man, to suit the shadow you want.

You could, at this point, "Adjust | Blur" to blur the edges of the shadow if you like.

At this point mine looked like this:


Clearly, the shadow does not match up perfectly with the man's shoes or stick. You can use your eye-dropper and paintbrush to fix that.

When you are satisfied that it is as good as you're going to get it, "Layers | Merge | Merge all (Flatten)" and "File | Save as" with a new name.


Yes, that overpass is for wildlife; both sides of the highway have tall fences to protect wildlife from motorists and vice versa. This is near Banff, Alberta, Canada.

Finally, a word about those "difficult" pictures, such as a wide critter such as a moose. I played with this one and this is how it looked before I made the shadow more faint.

Notice how I used the "Pick" tool to reshape the shadow so it is quite different from the moose; makes it look like the sun is higher in the sky than in the earlier example above.


Note how the feet do not line up except for the one. I think about all you can do in this situation is to use the "clone" tool to copy parts of the legs to "draw" them in, and erase other parts by cloning pieces of grass to cover the shadow that looks out of place. Once you reduce the opacity of the shadow and it is not so pronounced, then that won't be so obvious.

If you have a better idea, please let me know; Thanks!

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