Realistic shadows around objects help images look a lot more professional and natural. However, you might not have the strength to create images in the right settings or use the correct lighting to get the shadows you need. With a lot of patience and practice, you may add natural-looking shadows to the product photos you have.
Using the feature of Photoshop’s realistic shadow, you can add very real-looking shadows in your images and get the perfect results afterward.
How can you create shadow in Photoshop?
To have Photoshop’s realistic shadow created, you will have to learn a few things. Objects have two kinds of shadows, cast shadows and form shadows. What is the cast shadow? You may be thinking. Cast shadows are the shadows around the objects that appear over the floor or over other objects around any object. Form shadows are the shadows show in the object itself.
Both these types of shadows are determined using direction, distance, and several light sources. You may use the form shadows over your object to give the clues as to give a realistic cast shadow will show. Before you start drawing or creating the shadow in Photoshop, it is highly important to understand how shadows work. Cast shadows happen to become blurrier or lighter as they get away from the object.
Through this tutorial, you will learn about how you can create a realistic shadow in Photoshop by using a combination of The Drop Shadow Layer Style, transform tools, blurs, gradient tools, and alpha channels.
So let us begin now:
Isolate the object from its background:
Open your photo that you want to edit. Once you are in the new file, open up the Layers palette by going to the Window > Layers. Cut the object out in your photo, and then place it on the new layer.
Give the new layer a name that shows the background has been cut out from it to avoid confusion with the other layers when you create the shadows. Click on the eye icon near the background layer to make its background invisible.
Create the new background behind your isolated object:
In your layers palette, select the hidden background layer. Go to layer> New Layer, or click SHIFT + CONTROL + N to create this new layer. This layer will also serve as your new background. Fill the new layer using color by going to Edit > Fill. By picking the Color from the dropdown menu, you have the choice to choose a custom shade.
Determine the cast shadow color:
Shadows have colors and you may look at the form shadows on your object to decide which color of the cash shadow must be. Front the form shadow in the object and use the Eyedropper Tool to select this shadow.
The selected color will then appear like the foreground color at the bottom of the Tools palette. Double click over the new foreground color to bring up your Color Picker adjustment dialog box. Adjust the selected color to be a bit darker.
Create the drop shadow:
With the isolated object layer now selected, click on the fx button on the bottom of the Layers palette and then select the Drop Shadow. The Drop Shadow dialog box will then pop up; create the drop shadow by setting the shadow color to your foreground color. The opacity, spread, and distance levels are not that important now, as you will be adjusting all this later on.
- Create a layer using your drop shadow:
Go to layer> layer Style > Create a layer to separate the drop shadow from its initial layer. This will let you modify the shadow independent of the object. A warning dialog box will pop up when you go to create a layer. If so, you only click OK.
- Distort the drop shadow:
In your Layers palette, select the newly created drop shadow layer. Go to Edit > Transform > Distort to pull the drop shadow down onto the floor. Draw a selection on the area of your shadow you need to edit using the rectangular Marquee Tool, and then go Edit > Transform > Distort to edit this part of the shadow.
Once you are fully satisfied with the changes, apply the transformation and use the Paintbrush and Eraser tools to fix the edges of the shadows. Then change the Layer Blend Mode of the drop shadow layer back to multiply and then reduce the Fill for this layer back to 75%.
- Create the alpha channel:
This shadow is starting to look more realistic now, but remember that shadows become blurrier in our real lives and lighter the more they recede from an object. Using the alpha channel is also an easy way to control the shadow areas that need to be blurred and lightened again.
To create the alpha channel, go on Window > Channels to open the Channels Palette. Click on the Palette menu to now select the New Channel. The New Channel box will show.
- Create the gradient in your alpha channel:
In the Channels palette, select the new Alpha 1 channel only as you will select the layer. Make sure that the visibility is toggled on for all of these channels. Select the Gradient Tool from the Tools palette.
At the bottom of this tool’s palette, make sure that the foreground is set on black, and the background is white. In the Options palette on the top of the application window, make sure that the gradient is set on black to white, and the gradient is linear.
- Blue selection:
Once you have created the gradient in the alpha channel, you will see the red gradient over the top of your image, showing how the mask in the channel interacts with the image. You may toggle the eye icon next to the Alpha 1 to make this red gradient invisible, so it isn’t distracting.
This is how you will create Photoshop realistic shadows that will allow you to make your images highly realistic even when you are using custom backgrounds.
To have Photoshop’s realistic shadow created, you will have to learn a few things. Objects have two kinds of shadows, cast shadows and form shadows. What is the cast shadow?