Chris' ColorWorks Powertips- by Chris Wenham

Cut out Shadows and Netscape Palettes

This column is coming together a bit late this month, partly because I'm naturally lazy and partly because I've been busy making half-a-dozen versions of that glossy Readers' Choice logo you see on the contents page (picky editor y'see).

I've also been chastised in the past for not explaining the steps in my tips clearly enough, so this month I'll start to go a bit slower and outline the procedures more concisely to help the beginners out there.

News about future columns: someone pointed me towards a very cool site called CoolType which has a ton of tips for getting exqueemishly cool text effects, but for Adobe Photoshop. If I can (and when I get the time) I'll be working on 'porting' as many of these tips as I can to ColorWorks. Look for these in future columns.

As for this month, I'm catching up on some reader requests.

Q&A Center

I have a question for you... how do you create the cut out drop shadow as seen in the purple OS/2 e-Zine! logo?
- Colin Williams, Hamilton, New Zealand

It's not much different from the regular drop-shadow effect. Start with the base shape that you want to cut the text out from.

[example of initial shape]

Now pick white (or your background color) and double-click on the Text tool to set your font and enter the text you want to apply. Click 'Apply' and position this text over the shape. (Don't switch on anti-aliasing yet, we'll apply that later.)

[example of our shape with text cut out]

Now to create the shadow. Go to Edit.Copy (or press Ctrl-Insert for the same thing) then select Edit.Paste (or press Shift-Insert) to give yourself a new canvas with the same cut-out shape in it. Pick a very dark grey as your color, select the paint can tool and go fill that shape with the shadow color.

[original and a copy with shadow color set]

Next we go to the Effects.Filter Labs.Smoothing Lab dialog and pick "Gaussian Distribution" from the drop-down list. Click 'Ok' and then pick the Full Canvas tool from the floating toolbox. Now click on the canvas with the shadow-colored shape 3 to 4 times to blur it out. You don't have to wait for ColorWorks to finish each cycle before you click on it again, since the program will queue up your requests. This is a good opportunity to click on the 'i' in the corner of the canvas and check out what it's doing.

You should now have a nicely softened shadow.

At this point you want to left-click on the mask icon to flip ColorWorks into mask mode. Select the paint can tool and go fill the original, normal-colored shape with the mask. Don't mask the white parts since those must let the shadow show through from behind. (By the way, in this screenshot I'm using cyan as my masking color, selectable by double-clicking on the mask icon.)

[our original shape, now masked]

Finally we float the mask (Edit.Save and Float Image Mask, or Ctrl-F -- for ColorWorks v1.0 users you must save the image mask first, then float it) and right-drag it over the shadow canvas. Position it until it's just right, then Edit.Paste Floating.

You're done! Well, almost: right-click on the mask icon to take yourself out of mask mode then go to Effects.Drawing Merge Control and switch on Anti-aliasing. Use the eyedropper tool to get the original color you had before, then select the paint can tool and fill the 'cookie cutter' part of the shape with its own color. With anti-aliasing switched on the paint can will smooth the edges without giving you the 'fringing' effects you would have experienced had you anti-aliased the shape before dropping it over the shadow.

[final image]

Reader's Tips

Here are two palettes for ColorWorks. Together, they make up the Netscape colour cube. This means that if you use colours only from these two palettes, colours will never be dithered on 256 colour system, and turning your TIFs into GIFs won't ruin them for web work. The colours are made up of all possible combinations of the hex values 00, 33, 66, 99, CC, and FF, in case you are interested, i.e. a 6-6-6 palette (six intensities for each of Red, Green, and Blue).

For this to work, the gamma must be set to 1.00 all around, since otherwise ColorWorks adjusts the colours as it saves a file.

Carsten Whimster, EDM/2 Editor-in-chief

Thanks Carsten. A link for downloading the palettes is below.

Download Depot

Netscape Color Cube Palettes - Download and unzip to your x:\cworks\palettes directory.


Modular Dreams Incorporated has released another package of ColorWorks plug-ins, this one called "Renders", which will generate a variety of weird, wonderful and colorful patterns and textures. I'll be reviewing this package in full next month along with their Animated GIF plug-in. Meanwhile, here are some sample textures to whet your appetite:

Samples of MD+F Renders

Chris Wenham is a Team OS/2er in Binghamton, NY with a catchy-titled company -- Wenham's Web Works. He has written comedy, sci-fi, HTML, Pascal, C++ and now writes software reviews.

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