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Creative Shadow

Raw images may perhaps not satisfy your need in the digital world. They may need a few extra elements to catch the attention of people. Creating and adding a shadow to your image can enhance it intensely and immediately.

But shadows are complex. The areas that are closer to the object will emit firmer, darker shadows, whereas the areas that are far will gradually fade out into lighter, softer shadows. The complexities of creating a shadow can be easily handled by forming multiple layers with several shadows and blending them together.

Photoshop’s Drop Shadow layer style is traditionally used to replicate a 3D depth in a 2D image, which is done by creating a counterbalance shadow behind any object in the image to make it look like it is hovering atop the background in 3D space. But the standard Drop Shadow just doesn’t work so well. Here’s an easy yet more effective way on how to create natural shadow in Photoshop.

Step 1: Select the Object

If you want to add a shadow to an object in an image, first you need to select them. You can use any selection tool such as Quick Selection Tool, Lasso Tool, Pen Tool, etc. to select around the object. Once done, you should be able to see a selection outline surrounding the object. Here, we have selected the Grape:

For smooth edge, add 0.3 feather for selection.

Step 2: Copy Your Selection to a New Layer

Before selecting the object, press Command+J (Mac) on your keyboard to copy the object as a new layer. Once the object is selected, apply the layer mask to the previously selected layer. You can see that Photoshop has applied the mask to a new layer named “Background copy” above the Background layer.

Step 3: Add Extra Canvas Space If Necessary

Depending on the image, this step may or may not be necessary, but here, I want to add some additional canvas space to make sufficient room for the shadow. Photoshop’s Crop Tool is the simplest method to add extra canvas space to any image. It can be selected from the Tools panel.

Step 4: Add A New Blank Layer underneath the Background copy

By pressing down your Ctrl (Win) / Command (Mac) key, click on the New Layer icon, which is located at the bottom of the Layers panel:

Please ensure that that the new layer is added below the presently selected layer (Background Copy) so that it is placed between Background Copy and the Background layer.

Step 5: Creating a Path for Shape of Shadow

A path is just the outline of any object. Create a path at the bottom as per the direction of the light coming in the image.

Create a selection of the path and fill black to the “Layer 1”

Apply desirable blur depending upon the dimension of the image. Here, I have applied 45.8 pixel radius.

Next, the opacity of the shadow that was dependent on this lighting, and the exposure of the image should be controlled.

Step 6: Add Shadow at the Very Bottom of the Object

You have to brush at the bottom of the image. Create a new layer in a layer panel above the “Layer 1”, select the brush tool and select foreground color as black. Brush exactly at the bottom of the object. Please ensure that the opacity of the brush is greater than the opacity of the fill of the “Layer 1”

After creating a fill at the bottom of the object, adjust both the opacity as per your wish. And select both the layers and make a group and rename as “Shadow”.

Final File Will Look Like This: