Creating shadows in Adobe Photoshop

Creating minor shadows

This tutorial will help you in adding small areas of shadow to your 'shops. These help correct any inconsistencies in the lighting of a scene and also help blend small details into their backgrounds.

The main things which affect the nature of minor shadows are:

  • The direction of illumination.
  • The surface the shadow is projected onto.

To make use of in this tutorial i knocked up a quick posh meerkat (1.57Mb psd).

The source images were chosen because: well, i like posh meerkats.

Step1 - What needs a shadow?

This is fairly simple. Look at the picture and try to work out what looks wrong, the human brain is pretty good at spotting inconsistencies. In this case i'd say that a shadow is needed around the brim of the hat and behind the monocle, especially the string.

Step 2 - Make some initial shadows.

First make a path which fits the shape of the brim of the top hat and convert it to a selection with a feather of around 2 px:

Now create a new layer and fill the selection with a dark grey colour. use the arrow keys to shift the selection down and to the left around 5 pixels.

To make the monocles shadow i have applied a drop shadow style to the monocle frame layer in direction 41 degrees with quite a high opacity. Convet this layer style to a new layer.

Step 3 - Adjust and blend the shadows.

*This stage is hard to explain and much of it is subjective*

Use layer masks and liquify to adjust the shapes of the sadows until they give you the effects you were looking for. Remember that the shadows should meet the objects casting them in certain places.

Next change the blend mode of the top hat shadow layer to multiply and apply a gaussian blur of 2-3 px to both shadows.

Duplicate both shadow layers and change the blend modes of these new layers to color burn.

Adjust the opacities of all 4 shadow layers to give the correct effect.


If you followed the above correctly you should end up with something similar to this (1.64Mb psd).

Any advice on this would be gratefully received, any questions likewise. E-mail me.






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