Using Drop Shadow is one of the most basic things in Photoshop. Drop Shadow can help make your design more in-depth and highlight the part to press. However, Drop Shadow brings a lot of value that you might not expect, let’s find out.
What is Drop Shadow used for?
One of the most difficult tasks in design is to create depth for 2D objects. You need to practice a lot to create shadows for it to look the most natural. Drop Shadow will help you do this.
Shadow Style Drop Shadow Options window
To access the tool, go to Layer -> Effects > Drop Shadow . If you are using a newer version of Adobe, you can double-click the layer to add an effect to open the options window Layer Style .
From the left menu, select the Drop Shadow option . You will notice the settings on the right will change. These are parameters we can adjust to create different effects.
This is the style where the shadow will blend in with the background. Multiply is the default mode and usually works best.
The ball is not always black, so the version can change the color tone. Click on the color swatch on the right and choose a color for it. In the example below, the left side is using the default black shadow, while the right side is red.
Opacity is the value of shadow transparency. The higher the opacity, the more shadow will appear. Reducing blur will make the shadow more transparent.
Angle will determine the light source and show where the shadow will be placed. You can see the image below.
The Distance setting adjusts the distance to move the ball further or closer to the object. In newer Adobe Photoshop versions, you can click and move the ball around.
Looking at the image below, the text on the left with the shadow appears directly above the background, while the right text seems to be farther away from the background.
Spread controls the spread of the ball. It can make the shadow look thicker and thicker. Use this setting with Size to control the ball better.
Size shows the softness of the ball. We can create a very sharp, hard ball or a soft, diffuse shadow. This will greatly affect the illusion of the light source. The text on the left is set to 0. This creates the illusion that the light source is very close to the text. The text on the right is set to 12, and the ball is much more diffuse and softer.
Contour determines the shape of the ball. By default, Linear creates normal shadows. The remaining options of the setting are very useful when working with reflective surfaces. These effects will greatly depend on the parameters mentioned above.
Below, I’m using the conical reverse setting and set the Distance to 0. This creates a shadow with light around it.
Anti-aliased is a setting to help smooth the edges of the shadow. It is best to always check on it.
Noise controls the quality of the ball. Depending on the percentage you use, you can create a smooth or glossy noise. This is useful when you create shadows on rough surfaces and you need a rough texture.
Layer Knocks Out Drop Shadow
If you have transparent objects on top of the shadow, this option stops or allows the shadow to show through the object.
This option works with the Fill option on the Layer panel. In the example below, I set the Fill of both text layers to 0%.
Select the text layer on the right. Go to the Layer Styles options window and select the Drop Shadow menu. Uncheck the Layer Knocks Out Drop Shadow option and click OK. The result is a shadow that appears to overlap the layer contents.
Save and load default settings
If you want to apply the current settings as default, you can click the Make Default button. Photoshop will store these settings as default whenever using Drop Shadow.
Use the Reset to Default button to return to the last saved setting. This allows you to test and reload custom default settings if you want to start over.
Add more Drop Shadow
If you are using Adobe Photoshop CC with a new version, you can add multiple versions of Drop Shadow. This is great if you are creating complex effects that require more than one style.
In the Layer Style options window, look at the menu on the left. You should see the plus (+) button to the right of the Drop Shadow option. It will allow you to add multiple Shadow styles without leaving the options window. You can add up to 10 Layer Style on a layer.
In the above example, I created Drop Shadow for the text. I added 10 Drop Shadow styles and increased the spacing by 1px each.
This is all you need to know about Drop Shadow.