Drop Shadow Tutorial

Today’s tutorial is on how you can add realistic shadows to objects in just a few simple steps. Let’s dive in!!

Isolate Object

This is the first step.

If you want to add drop shadow to a text:

Select the Horizontal Type tool from the sidebar or press ‘T’. Write your desired text and then right click on the text layer in the layer window and click ‘Rasterize Type’. This will put the text on a layer with a transparent background.

If you want to add the drop shadow on an object:

You must first separate the object from the background. If the background is transparent then you can skip this step otherwise please read our article on how to make a clipping path and copy the object on a new layer.

Creating the Drop Shadow

Now that you have your desired text or object on a separate layer, it’s time to create the shadow.

For newbies, the Drop shadow dialog box is a good starting place. Double click on the layer with the object and the layer styles window should pop up. Select the drop shadow on the options on the left of the window and then mess around with the settings beside.

Blend mode:
This is the option which specifies how your drop shadow blends into the layer behind it. A good choice to use would be the linear burn or the multiply option so that the drop shadow darkens that bit of area on the layer behind it. But do go through all the options so that you find the best blend mode that suits your image. Blend mode is also the place where you get to chose your drop shadows color. Click the black box beside the pull down option bar to select color.

Opacity:
This setting specifies how opaque or transparent your drop shadow is. Move the slider back and forth to find the right amount your image needs. 100% is fully opaque and 0% is fully transparent.

Angle:
This option allows you to change the position of the light source and thus the position of your drop shadow. Change the position of the spinner or the change the value of the angle in the box to change the position of the shadow. It is recommended that you check the “use global light” option so that the position of the light sources on all other effects used (such as bevel and others) and so will produce a coherent image at the end.

Distance:
Here, moving the slider allows you to change the apparent distance between the object and the background.

Spread:
The spread option controls how much the edges of the drop shadows fade off. Usually for normal shadows, keep spread to 0% but if you require harder shadows then start pushing the slider towards 100 and see where your shadows fits perfectly.

Size:
At 0, the size of your shadow is the same as the size of your object. Pushing the slider towards the right increases the size of your shadow in 1 pixel increment. This option is also a great tool to control the softness of the shadow.

Contour:
Contour allows you to control how the shadow fades off. Change the curve profiles to see which effect looks fitting. This option is only really useful if you need to make special glows so that the shadow falls in a unique shape or for abstract effects.

The “anti-aliased” checkbox, if checked, allows for a higher quality shadow falloff but at a drop in performance, but this drop is barely noticeable so it is recommended to keep the box checked.

Noise:
noise is basically the amount of textural roughness. moving the slider away from 0 will increase
the roughness or noise in the shadow and add texture

Make default/ Reset to default:
The make default button will save the current settings on the effect as the default setting and the reset to default button will revert all the settings to the previously saved settings. This gives you to freedom to experiment without having to worry about losing your previous configuration

After messing around with all the settings, click on OK on the top right corner and you have yourself a drop shadow!!