How to make a real cast shadow Photoshop Tutorial

How to make a real cast shadow Photoshop Tutorial

easter puppy wearing bunny ears

GC_1908 Easter Puppy Greeting Card

There is a drop shadow feature that makes a shadow instantly in Photoshop. However if you would like to know how to make a more natural cast shadow, one that looks more realistic – a long shadow that anchors the subject to the background, try this cast shadow photoshop tutorial.

1. Open an image in photoshop and remove it from the background. OR license an isolated KRI Studio Pet PSD file, like the images featured on this page, and you can skip this step! Click here to see Easter Studio Pets in Image-bank!

2. Create a standard drop shadow. Use the Layers style button, select drop shadow. A few tips here: choose a color for your shadow to match your background objects in image. Play with sliders to soften the shadow to your likeness. Click ok.

3. Put the shadow on its own layer: In the Layers Panel right click on the little “f” on the right of the layer name. You will see a drop down menu. Choose the option to “create layer”.

4. Distort the shadow layer: Press Ctrl T to free transform, select “distort” from the menu. Reposition the top handles as necessary.

puppy with bunny ears

IMG_2248 Chihuahua Puppy Zeke wearing bunny ears

NOW YOU HAVE A BASIC CAST SHADOW. to improve on it, and add more realism to your shadow, continue with these steps.

5. Replicate how a “real” shadow gets softer as it goes farther away.  Duplicate shade layer (Ctrl J). Turn off visibility of bottom shadow. Select top shadow to soften. Choose Filter>blur>guassian blur to blur shadow to your likeness.

6. Add layer mask to your top shadow. Use gradient tool, set colors to black and white (Ctrl D) choose linear foreground to background.  Select the mask, drag gradient tool 1/4 way from bottom to 3/4 way to top up to blend the two shadow layers. Set top shadow opacity to 50-75%, bottom shadow to opacity 30%.

** Is there a shadow that you want to hide? Use layer mask and paint it away with a black brush.

extra credit: Observe real shadows in natural environment. Notice and learn the following: how the shadows change in the distance, notice direction of the shadows and sun, notice how shadows appear on different surfaces.