ugaldew's blog

Cast Shadows

posted by ugaldew, Jun 14, 2006 1:37 AM — 36 comments

Hi SXCers and guests : In today's trick we will learn how toCast Shadows ,This is a very useful trick ,first , because sometimes it is hard to get the light to create well defined and outstanding shadows that will make our stock better selling and second because when isolating an image , the shadows are usually difficult to extract . for this tutorial you will need Photoshop and do not worry if you are a PS newbie , the visual steps will guide you step by step

This is the effect we want to achieve at the end of the practice

Strike a pose by Mistermast at SXC

Red Post by Ugaldew at SXC

Pin by Brokenarts at SXC

So Lets Get Started !!!

>> Step 1
Open , Select the object, cut and paste twice

Open Your image ,

Strike a pose by Mistermast at SXC

Select the object that will cast the shadow use your favorite tool for the kind of selection you will do Rectangle , polygonal lasso etc I will use the magic wand

Then cut the selection and paste it twice ( pressing Ctrl + X and Ctrl + V , twice ) or using the menu (edit / cut ) and ( edit / paste ) twice .The image will be cut out from the background and duplicated in two new layers called “layer 1” and “layer 2”

>> Step 2
Distort Shadow

In our workspace we have the background and our selected object , duplicated in two layers, the object we will use to create the shadow is the one in “layer 1” or the one in the middle between background layer and the top layer . So lets select the layer to start working

In this step we have to distort the image in layer 1 , so it looks like a real shadow. To distort go to ( edit / transform / distort )

Then drag the middle adjustment point in the top, to the place you want to cast the shadow

>> Step 3
Paint in black the shadow image

We have to paint in black the shadow image “layer 1” So lets select the Paint bucket tool in the tool palette , (make sure it is set in black color) and start painting the image

>> Step 4
Add a mask and a b/w Gradient

First add a mask layer in the layer of our shadow image (layer 1) . To add it , just click the (add mask layer) button in the bottom of the layers palette

Now we have to trace a gradient that will cover our shadow object
So lets select the gradient tool and make sure the gradient goes from black to white

Now Apply the gradient . the start point will be in the bottom of our object , and the end point depends on how faded you want your shadow to be

My gradient for this exercise looks like this

>> Step 5
Add Gaussian Blur filter

We are about to finish, in this step our shadow will really look like shadow , by applying some blur , remember to keep selected the shadow layer

Then we will add some Gaussian blur to our shadow , (Filter / Blur / Gaussian Bur ) ,

The blur we have to add ,depends in the effect of space you want to get, , sometimes you will blur it a lot and some times will be only a slight blur ., so play with it until you get your desired effect

>> Step 6
Reduce opacity

This is the last step our tutorial , just to add a more realistic effect we have to reduce the opacity a bit
In the layers palette select the layer of our shadow (layer 1) and click the opacity button and and drag the opacity’s slider to the left until you get the desired effect

And that was all

Mine ended up like this :

This technique can be applied in white , black or more elaborated backgrounds with great results, Im sure it will make your stock look very classy and better selling

have a happy practice I hope you can easily apply this trick , and that you have enjoyed as much as I did writing it , please feel free to ask anything in this weblog's comments or write an email to if you have more doubts or comments about this tutorial

Miguel Ugalde Ugaldew

Comments | RSS

1. posted by tes, Jul 13, 2006 9:11 AM

No offence but the picture in the example: the first thing I saw is that the light comes from left and the shadow also goes to the left: I think it is very important that people look at the lightfall if they wanna generate a shadow. Am I wrong? Just a little detail missing in this tutorial.

2. posted by wender52, Jul 16, 2006 11:45 AM

Thanks a lot

3. posted by ellyo, Jul 13, 2006 10:58 AM

Thanks for sharing! I think it will be even better if the blur is not even, but lighter at the end closest to the object....

4. posted by gtrfrkbob, Jun 14, 2006 5:39 AM

Awesome! They don't look 100% authentic but the look pretty believable. Only problem with the result picture is that the lighting sources are different.

5. posted by ugaldew, Jun 14, 2006 7:02 AM

True , not 100% authentic , but it helps to produce cleaner images , and in most cases this is better selling than the authentic , many stock images applies this technique ...

I hope this tut helps the community someway ...

6. posted by gtrfrkbob, Jun 14, 2006 7:55 AM

It was helpful to me. I think adding a texture to the shadow would make a HUGE difference. Look at brokenart's pin for example. It looks real but without texture, it would look a flat, gray reflection created in photoshop.

I think fading can be adjusted accordingly as well.

7. posted by canoncan, Jun 14, 2006 10:21 AM

this is what i needed to know, i will be giving this a go at the weekend, cheers for sharing your master skills with us,

thanks miguel.

8. posted by DFine1Lady, Jun 15, 2006 3:53 AM

Awesome...another way to treat an image into a simple, clean piece of art.

Thanks for the tutorial!

9. posted by DFine1Lady, Jun 15, 2006 4:06 AM

Awesome...another way to treat an image into a simple, clean piece of art.

Thanks for the tutorial!

10. posted by skrasii, Jun 17, 2006 9:56 PM

very helpful, thanks!

11. posted by xymonau, Jul 3, 2006 9:57 PM

A great tutorial, but I scratched my head at how complicated it was. Doesn't Photoshop have a simple shadow button that applies a shadow? In PhotoImpact, you can apply a shadow with a few clicks, and then separate the shadow if you wish, to move the angle.

12. posted by sundesigns, Jul 20, 2006 4:40 PM

Useful, this is very widely used way of creating shadows

13. posted by brimenzies, Jul 23, 2006 3:56 AM

I was doing shadows, but wasn't doing it quite the same, hence, not quite as good of a result as what you've shown me here.

Thank you for making my work much easier!!!

God Bless!

14. posted by jpriest, Jul 24, 2006 11:43 AM

Very amateur,not good sorry

15. posted by theknitter, Jul 24, 2006 7:08 PM

The gradient on the shadow is a great technique. Well done.

16. posted by ciprynus, Jul 26, 2006 6:02 PM

Thanks for sharing!
But, as "tes" said, the shadow goes in the same direction from which the light comes...funny! Anyway, good staff!

17. posted by dfr3sh20, Jul 28, 2006 8:18 PM

Great tutorial.

18. posted by conmani, Aug 2, 2006 10:25 PM

Great! Thanks for sharing yourknowledge!

19. posted by teambo, Aug 3, 2006 5:45 PM

Good tutorial but the shadows will always look like a cartoon / unrealistic using this technique. Simply having the object photographed against a white background with its natural shadows is always going to look better.

20. posted by alias007, Aug 5, 2006 3:45 PM

have to agree with tes. great tutorial and easy technique to master. A+ for sharing - though to give it the professional edge always establish the direction of the light. Oh, teambo is wrong, the graphic artist I employ does killer shadow and reflective surfaces

21. posted by WiredMarys, Aug 22, 2006 8:40 PM

Enjoyed this a lot. I've wondered how to do this technique easily in PS. Super easy. Well written and easy to follow.

22. posted by MeHere, Aug 27, 2006 1:35 PM

Very nice. Decided I wanted to drop a shadow on a picture and found this tutorial. Sounds simple and easy, thanks. (as said, maybe not realistic, but so pretty :D)

23. posted by Rashed509, Aug 29, 2006 12:37 PM

Not so Perfect shadow technique, sorry to say. Original is original.

24. posted by jacquecab, Sep 2, 2006 1:53 PM

easy to understand tut esp for beginners but in photoshop, shadows can easily be generated through layer style>drop shadow(xymonau's query). Just manipulate the angle, distance and size settings.

25. posted by extremekos, Sep 18, 2006 8:47 PM

i have to definitley agree with Jacque, i tried tut's way and then Jacque's way and jacque's was way easier. you form the drop shadow and make it into it's own layer. then transform it. good stuff though

26. posted by a_kartha, Sep 23, 2006 7:39 AM

Very well written. As been said before, many ways of going from point A to point B, but your way is definately great!


27. posted by amitnair, Sep 27, 2006 3:07 PM

Posts like these make life easier for the beginners, great job .

28. posted by wingedstar, Oct 29, 2006 2:12 PM

Quite helpful and easy to use. :)

29. posted by emdelr, Dec 22, 2006 2:57 PM

thanks Miguel, very useful

30. posted by moon_dream, Jan 6, 2007 10:09 AM

thank you this will be very useful

31. posted by sattamande, Jan 17, 2007 3:20 AM

For the life of me I still don't understand why Photoshop does not have a tool to do this. I have to go back to my old version of Paint Shop Pro 8 to drop shadows. That software allows you to change angles, opacity, color, you name it it is great! When will Adobe catch on?

A big thanks to you for showing how it CAN be done inspite of the softwares limitations.

32. posted by voodoo87, Mar 18, 2007 2:38 PM

thanks for this little tutorial :)

33. posted by gtapostolx, Mar 28, 2007 12:52 AM

Excellent post! It really made my work easier to use!

34. posted by irum, Apr 10, 2007 11:56 PM

Thanks a lot for this easy to floow tutorial. It was very helpful for my task

35. posted by trainer2, May 31, 2013 9:05 AM

Thank you for the procedure. I have had to do something like this on a couple of others, and this helps simplify the process.

36. posted by carlislekm, Jul 29, 2013 4:38 AM

Very interesting

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