How to Create Realistic Shadows in Photoshop

Are you having a hard time making your composites look believable? Learning to create shadows in Photoshop is one of the critical elements in creating realistic composites.

One of the overlooked techniques when creating a composite is the addition of shadows. In this tutorial, Jesus Ramirez of Photoshop Training Channel demonstrates the best way to create shadows and make them look realistic. Some of you may be familiar with the drop shadow technique, where Photoshop can create an automatic shadow based on the shape of the layer. You can then manipulate this layer with the transform tool to fit your scene. Ramirez, however, has a different approach.

One of the elements of Photoshop that many of you are probably unfamiliar with is Photoshop 3D. If this tool is new to you, this is a great tutorial to understand the basics of what it can do. The benefits of the 3D option are that it gives you much more control when you are changing the different aspects of the shadow to fit the scene. Ramirez is able to easily control the angle, depth, and softness of the shadow with only a few adjustments.

This tutorial is eye-opening and worth watching for those of you who want to learn about creating shadows or if the possibilities of Photoshop 3D interest you. To see the exact steps Ramirez took to create a shadow for his subject, check out the video above.

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Sebastian Erras's picture

He should have used a different background. Not one that gives the illusion of strong evening backlight from the sun but the main subject is fully front lit. In the end it looks everything else than natural.

Unfortunately, the plant holder on the right reveals what the shadows in that scene should actually be doing.

Devin Groody's picture

*uses the least realistic looking composite as thumbnail for video*