A few quick thoughts on drop shadows

Setting up a drop shadow on some type seems pretty straightforward right? You can use the drop shadow tool or maybe just duplicate the type and move the copy behind the original and offset it a little bit; at least this used to be my thought process before class with Ed Benguiat. Below is an example of what you might get if you set the drop shadow that way.

The drop shadow in the preceding illustration is an exact duplicate of the shape above it. The problem with the method shown above is that even though it reproduces the shapes perfectly, the shapes aren't uniformly thick at all points. When drop shadows are added to type they are no longer just representations of shadows, they become part of the rhythm of the word. The lack of visual consistency caused by technically correct drop shadows breaks up the rhythm of the word.

The example above shows the inconsistencies in the diagonal and round shapes. The diagonals get way too thin or disappear altogether and many of the round shapes end up too heavy. One solution to this problem is to cut apart the letterforms that make up the drop shadow and adjust it manually. Below is an example of the drop shadow manually adjusted.

Problems like this remind me that I need to trust my eyes and not just the numbers.

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