Ever heard the phrase “Presentation is everything?” Sometimes the presentation can be even more important than the thing that’s being presented. Just think of those fancy 5-star restaurants that end up spending more money on the decorative trimmings of a steak than the steak itself. This principle is especially at work in an industry where the lasting impressions are usually the first ones.
It’s always a good thing to take the extra time to refine the presentation of your designs. It can easily mean the difference between just satisfying versus impressing a client. I’ve included a few quick and easy tips that can greatly enhance the presentation of your work. We’ll actually be drawing from many of the topics covered in earlier posts such as gradients and shadows.
For our example picture, we’ll be using a photograph of some stones. Right now the image is just sitting on a white background…nothing fancy. I don’t have anything against simplicity and truth is, anything on a white background always seems extra class to me.
However, in this case, we’re looking to do liven up this image. We’ll start off by creating a document that has the following – “Rock Layer” and “Background”. Our first step is to add a radial gradient background. I chose a light gray to an even lighter gray as my gradient colors. While you should go with whichever colors you like the best, I would suggest keeping them in the same family so that the lighting effect that’s created looks realistic. When you create your radial gradient, you’ll want your foreground color to be the lighter of the two colors.
The next step is to add a reflection. I took the rock layer and then duplicated it (CTRL-J). Label the rock layer “Rock Layer Reflection” and with the layer selected transform it (CTRL-T). The active layer should have the transform handles surrounding it now. Right click in the middle of the photo and select flip vertical. Drag the “Rock Layer Reflection” layer down until it’s top is just underneath the bottom of the original photo. From here we’ll reduce the reflection layer’s opacity to 35% and mask out the bottom half of the image. The image was masked out using a “layer mask” (details to be covered in a later post.)
The final step is to add some shadows to increase the realism-factor. These shadows will be different than the standard drop shadows used in the layer style effects. We’re going to manually make these by creating small triangles at the bottom left and bottom right of the stone photo. Make a new layer and once you’ve made your triangle selection, fill it with black, deselect the selection, and add a guassian blur filter with a radius of 3.7. Make sure that this layer is behind the photo layer. When the blurred shadow is perfected positioning-wise, duplicate the triangle layer, transform, flip horizontal, and drag it over to the other side of the photo.
Your final product should look something like this.
Of course, you can add your own preferences to the mix and alter the background color, strengthen or lessen the reflection or shadows, etc. If you want to get even fancier, you can drop in a watermark logo of your company and set the layer blending mode to Overlay with an opacity of 50%. Hopefully through this example, you can appreciate how a little extra time in presentation can go a very long way.