How to Create Natural Drop Shadow with Photoshop?

The use of drop shadow is to make your image natural to its viewers. You would find the importance of natural drop shadow if you see an image with drop shadow and without shading side by side. Here is an example to explain the difference.

Creating natural drop shadow is quite easy. You can do it yourself by following the below tutorial:

First Step: Open the image in Photoshop first. Then, cut out the image from the original background. You can apply clipping path, image masking technique or magic tools to remove the background. We prefer you to apply clipping path for the images with solid edge to get the best result. Once, you are done with cutting out the object onto a transparent layer please take a new layer below the cutout layer and make it pure white. You have to work on another layer that will remain between the white layer and the object layer.  So you have four layers in total:

  • Layer 1: Cut Out Layer
  • Layer 2: Transparent Layer
  • Layer 3: Pure White Background Layer
  • Layer 4: Original Background


Step Two: The shadow we will create is going to be same to the original one. Now, put the Layer 3 off and you will see the original image. Make a selection of the original shadow by creating clipping and the object layer. The selection has to be very accurate since it will determine the shape of the shadow.

Third Step: Once you have created the selection of the original shadow go back to Layer 2 on which you are going to create natural drop shadow. Select clipping path by pressing Ctrl + click on path layer (second clipping path that is created according to the shape of the shadow). Now, apply 10 pixel feathers (Shift + f6) to the selection and apply pure black (Alt + Backspace) into the selection. Here, you have to apply necessary blur to make it more natural. Remember, the ratio of blur and feathers is an important issue in this regard. You should apply less blur than feathers to get the best effect. Adjust the opacity of the layer according to your requirement. If you want the shadow to be soft you have to decrease the opacity and increasing the opacity will make it harder. We advise you to keep the opacity between 50 to 60 percent.

Fourth Phase: In this step you have to make further adjustment to make it more natural. It can be called as the finishing step. You have to add a bit gradient effect to the shadow with the help of eraser tool. Use eraser tool with 10 opacity and 0 hardness. The outer surface of the shadow has to be softer than the closer portion. You can slightly erase the periphery of the drop shadow shadow to make it accordingly.

drop shadow sample

Yes, you are doing with it. These simple four steps will provide you the basic guideline of creating natural shadow while professionalism lies on expertise. By applying natural shadow you can make your images professional very easily. This is one of the great image enhancement techniques. The quality of your shadow might not be quite well first time but if you practice for several times you must be able to do it successfully. You are always welcome to contact us for any kind of assistance in your image editing project. The sleepless team of Clipping Mask Asia is available for 24/7 for your convenience.