Finally, an Amazingly Fast, Simple Way to Create Realistic Shadows in Photoshop

If you want to learn how to quickly create realistic-looking shadows for your subjects in Photoshop, you need to check this out.

There has been a lot of conjecture recently about the increasing role of AI in photography, with many bemoaning its growing presence. The fear for many is that AI will completely take over photography to the point where clients, or those seeking images for publications and websites will simply go to AI platforms, type in a few keywords, and get amazing results in the blink of an eye. If that ever comes to fruition, the need for a photographer will all but disappear. However, there's still one area where I think AI can't compete yet, and that's composite photography. If you know how to add different elements seamlessly and make them look realistic in a single image, then the only thing holding you back is your imagination. The only problem with composite photography is that when it's done poorly, it often looks ridiculously fake.  

And that brings us to this great video by Colin Smith from Photoshop Cafe, in which he demonstrates a fast, simple, and effective way to add shadows to subjects you might be using in composite images. Shadows can often be tricky, depending on the source of light and the direction the light is coming from. You also need to account for edge sharpness drop-off according to how high your light source is, particularly if it's the sun. Thankfully, Smith covers all these issues in this short, sharp video so that by the end of it, you can create shadows in your composite work that will pass the eye test for how realistic they look. Let me know your thoughts below. Do you have a better method?

Iain Stanley's picture

Iain Stanley is an Associate Professor teaching photography and composition in Japan. Fstoppers is where he writes about photography, but he's also a 5x Top Writer on Medium, where he writes about his expat (mis)adventures in Japan and other things not related to photography. To view his writing, click the link above.

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To put the shadow on a different layer, was great.

I've been trying for actual *years* to figure out how to do this! I was close, but never close enough. This is terrific! Thanks!