Drop Shadows: How Shady Are You?

As mentioned oh-so-briefly in the last post, when given the tools to create a great looking yearbook, it can sometimes be tempting to use all of them (all at once! on every page! this is fun!), but we are going to ask you, loyal blog readers, to NOT. This post, we'll focus mainly on drop shadows. Drop shadows have become standard in any kind of layout software. However, with great drop shadow power, comes great responsibility. It's the responsibility of YOU, yearbook designer, to use your drop shadows subtly, beautifully, and wisely.

Take a look: In the above example, the left image is a page using a subtle, low opacity drop shadow. It gives the idea that the images contained on the page are "photos" held to something using tacks. In real life, pictures pinned to something would create a small shadow...much like we see here. On the right, we see the exact same layout, but we changed the drop shadows to a color and gave them a harder edge. See how unnatural this looks in comparison? One should use drop shadows to enhance a layout and add interest...not to steal focus from what's important: your images!

In this example, the exact same layout was used, with the exact same drop shadow. Only difference? We changed one to white. Again, your drop shadow goes from something that adds interest and depth to your layout, to being something that steals the show...or distracts from what your initial focus was! This drop shadow changes from a shadow, to more of a glow around your images. In some cases, this may be a fun design element to add, but on a page that already has so much to look at, we suggest less is more.

When deciding on a drop shadow to use, keep in mind that it should stay consistent throughout your spread. In the above example, the left hand page shows a slightly more aggressive drop shadow on the main image, and the drop shadows in the rows above and below being a little more subtle. Still looks nice: all is right in the world of yearbook design. However, on the right hand example, we created different drop shadows for each small image above the main image. This is not only confusing for the eye, but would result in a hand slap and a firm talking to in the world of good design.

We know, keeping it simple is so much easier said than done with so many exciting design features and tools out there to play with! Just stick with the basic rules and guidelines we're teaching you and you'll have a beautiful, professional looking yearbook that will 'wow' all those who have the pleasure of viewing it.

Happy Designing! The Idea Garden Team