Photo shadow creation is essential in giving depth to an object. Are you interested in learning about Photoshop shadow creation? Then, read this article to understand the types of shadows and how to create realistic shadows. As a result, you can use shadow creation tools confidently. 

In the sections below, you learn what a shadow is, its importance in photography, types of shadows, and much more. So, let’s get started! 

What is a Shadow in Photography?

A shadow is a dark area created when an object blocks a light source. 

Shadows change shape, intensity, and color based on light’s angle, direction, and temperature.

For example, with the light source in front of a subject, the shadow falls behind. Then, when the light source is from the side of an object, the shadow appears on the opposite side. Finally, the shadow appears underneath the object when the light source is directly above the object. 

More intense light sources create deeper shadows with higher contrast. 

Another important concept to understanding shadows is a highlight. A highlight is the opposite of the shadow. Shadows are dark areas, while highlights are the light areas of the image.

What is Photo Shadow Creation?

A Kades Shoes Before Shadow Creation
Figure 01: Shoes Before Shadow Creation
A Kades Shoes After Shadow Creation
Figure 02: Shoes After Shadow Creation

When you click a photo in a well-lit environment, shadows are naturally created based on the laws of physics. Conversely, a photograph taken with inadequate light will have imperfect shadows. 

Photoshop shadow creation is the process of manipulating the shadows in the image to enhance the look. Shadow creation is an important part of the photo editing process.

Create realistic shadows to add depth to your image. For example, a product image looks more professional when it has shadows. However, after background removal, the product looks like it is floating in the air. A simple solution is to add shadows using image editing software. 

You can create realistic shadows yourself, or get professional photo shadow creation services.

Importance of Shadows in Photography

Photographs look more balanced when the contrast between light and shadow is optimized correctly. Shadows add drama to an image, while light can make it seem brighter. 

Shadows are important to photography because they:

  • Provide dimension
  • Bring focus to your subject
  • Strengthen the contrast between light and shadows

Benefits of Photoshop Shadow Creation

Now that you know the importance of shadows, what are the benefits of creating realistic shadows in Photoshop? 

Professional image shadow creation helps both businesses and photographers add shadows to their photographs. 

Benefits of Photo Shadow Creation for Businesses

Businesses use Photoshop shadow creation to make their product photos look good. eCommerce businesses specifically require shadow creation. Some of the benefits of adding shadows to images for businesses include:

  • Make Eye-Catching Product Images
  • Increase Product Image Quality
  • Make Products Look Natural
  • Remove Distractions (By Removing Background and Add Shadows)

Benefits of Photo Shadow Creation for Photographers

Creative photographers use shadows to enhance their photos in many different ways. For example, a professional photographer may tell a dark story by cleverly using shadows. However, it may not be possible to create shadows naturally. 

Photographers can use Photoshop shadow creation to easily add shadows as desired. They can:

  • Make Shadows the Main Subject
  • Create a Sense of Space
  • Add Mystery, and more!

Types of Shadows in Photo Editing

Now that you know what shadows are, their importance, and their benefits, you should understand the different shadow types. Knowing the types of shadows will help you decide which kind is best for your photo. 

There are four main types of shadows you can add during photo editing:

  • Drop Shadow
  • Natural Shadow
  • Reflection Shadow 
  • Retain Original Shadow

Drop Shadow

First off, what is a drop shadow? Drop shadows create a hover effect on the subject. It appears like the object is floating and casting a shadow underneath it. Create realistic drop shadows to give the illusion of your object being 3D. 

Drop shadows are essential to increase the depth of a 2D image. For example, online stores can add drop shadows to their products to make customers believe the items are genuine. 

Natural Shadow

Natural shadow creation is required for eCommerce businesses. 

During photo editing, the editor removes the background and replaces it with a white background. However, this process also removes the natural shadows of the product. So, the next step is to create natural shadows so the product looks real and high-quality. 

Natural shadows are essential as it gives clients the confidence to shop online as they could in person. 

Reflection Shadow 

Deep Cleansing Oil Bottle and Packet Before Adding Shadow
Figure 03: Deep Cleansing Oil Bottle and Packet Before Shadow Creation
Deep Cleansing Oil Bottle and Packet After Adding Shadow
Figure 04: Deep Cleansing Oil Bottle and Packet After Reflection Shadow Creation

A reflection shadow creates the impression that the object was photographed on a reflective surface, like a glass mirror. Reflection shadows are important for shiny products like jewelry because it shows quality. 

Images used in eCommerce stores, magazines, brochures, catalogs, and printing industries all benefit from reflection shadow creation. 

Retain Original Shadow

The concept of retaining the original shadow is simple. During a photoshoot, the original shadow expected may be distorted due to conditions outside the control of the photographer. Thus, a photo editor can recreate the original shadow to make it look professional. 

History of Shadows in Photography

Shadows have played an important role in photography since their inception. Early photographers used long exposures and light-sensitive materials to capture images that included the play of light and shadow. 

In recent years, digital photography and image editing tools have opened up new possibilities for manipulating and enhancing shadows. It is easier to control and play with light and shadow during image post-production with tools like Adobe Photoshop. 

Shadow creation has been a popular trend in photo editing recently. The growth of visual content on social media platforms and the desire for eye-catching images have contributed to the popularity of creative shadow creation. 

Some of the popular trends in photo shadow creation include:

  • Soft Shadow Creation: For a subtle and natural look.
  • Hard Shadow Creation: For sharp and defined shadows that give a more dramatic look.
  • Double Shadow Creation: Additional shadows for a more complex and interesting look. 
  • Abstract Shadows Creation: Creating unusual and creative shadows for a unique touch. 

Photo Shadow Creation Skills

What skills should a photo editor have to add shadows to photographs? 

Some important skills a photo editor creating realistic shadows in Photoshop should have include the following:

  • Understanding Lighting and Shadows
  • Knowledge of the Types of Shadows
  • Mastery of Photo Editing Tools like Photoshop

Photo Shadow Creation Tools

What photo editing software or mobile photo editing apps help create realistic shadows? There are many different editing tools you can use to add shadows, with the most popular being Adobe Photoshop. However, there are many online tools you can use for Photoshop shadow creation, including the following:

  • GIMP
  • PhotoDiva
  • CorelDraw
  • Luminar AI 
  • Sharpen AI 
  • Photolemur

How To Create Shadows in Photoshop?

So far, you have learned about shadow types and the benefits of creating shadows for your photographs. Let us now understand how exactly you can create shadows in Photoshop. However, the concepts and skills are similar to other photo editing software. 

Photoshop Shadow Creation Step-by-Step Process

Create basic shadows in Photoshop by following the five steps described below:

  1. Open Your Image in Adobe Photoshop
  2. Create a Shadow Layer and Set Opacity Around 15-20%
  3. Create a Highlight Layer and Set Opacity Around 10-15%
  4. Decide on the Direction of Light and Draw Highlights
  5. Based on Light Direction, Draw Shadows on the Opposite Side


In conclusion, creating realistic shadows is essential to good photography. Furthermore, knowing how to add shadows using a program like Photoshop is important due to imperfect lighting conditions during photography. 

I hope you understand the importance of shadow creation. The step-by-step process of Photoshop shadow creation should help you draw the shadows and highlights yourself using shadow creation tools. 

Finally, thank you for reading my article! If you have any questions on shadow creation please comment below. I will try to answer your queries accurately. 

Photo Shadow Creation FAQs

Frequently asked questions (FAQs) about image shadow creation. 

What are shadows and highlights?

Highlights are the lightest parts of an image, while shadows are the darkest parts. The dynamic range (DR) is the ratio between the light areas (highlights) and dark areas (shadows). Your dynamic range is key to providing depth and drama to an image.

Who needs photo shadow creation?

The following parties benefit from Photoshop shadow creation:
Online sellers
eCommerce owners
Product photographers
Professional photographers

What are the two types of shadow effects?

There are two main types of shadow effects; Soft and Hard. Soft shadows come from larger light sources and are less distinct. On the other hand, hard shadows have sharply defined edges from a smaller light source.

What directions can light come from for shadow creation?

There are five main directions light comes from to create shadows. A good photo editor must know to create realistic shadows for each type. 
Backlight – Light from behind the subject, casts a shadow in front of the subject.
Frontlight – Light from the front of the subject, casts a shadow behind the subject.
Sidelight – Light from the left or right of the subject, casts a shadow on the opposite side.
Overhead light – Light from above the subject, casts a shadow directly below the subject.
Upward light – Light from underneath the subject, casts a shadow upwards.

How do I create realistic shadows in Photoshop?

Create two layers, one for highlights and one for shadows. On the shadows layer, draw with black. Then, draw with white for your highlight layer. Adjust the opacity of each layer to get the perfect balance between light and shadow.

What is the best app for photo shadow creation?

Many apps and shadow creation tools help you create realistic shadows, including Canva. If you want to create realistic shadows quickly, use Canva’s mobile app or website.

This page was last edited on 3 April 2024, at 10:28 am