Photoshop Tutorial: Drop Shadows

This is a basic tutorial that will teach you several ways to make a drop shadow in Photoshop. Even though drop shadows are very simple, you’ll most likely find that you will end up using them quite a bit in your work.

Note: In newer versions of Photoshop, there’s a new-and-improved way to make dropshadows: choose Layer » Layer Style » Drop Shadow.

Though Layer Styles are definitely the way to go these days, you may occasionally run into a few cases where you need a little extra control that isn’t offered by Layer Styles. So if that’s the case, or if you use an older version of Photoshop, follow along.

Step 1

To start off, you’ll need something to add a drop shadow to. This can be text, a logo, clipart… whatever. It will need to be on its own separate layer, whatever it is. Press D on your keyboard to reset your colors to their default values (we’re going to be using black).

Step 2

If you’re putting your drop shadow on text, select the Type tool now and type your text. Make a new layer and in your Layers Palette, drag it underneath the layer that contains your text… you can name this layer Shadow. Hold down Command (PC: Control) on your keyboard and click on the text layer, and it should load a selection around it.

Step 3

Now, go to Select » Feather and choose a number and press OK. The higher the number, the more “soft” and spread out your drop shadow will be. In the example, a setting of 5 was used. Make sure that the Shadow layer is selected and go to Edit » Fill » Foreground Color, to fill the feathered selection with black.

Step 4

Now, depending on the direction your “light source” is coming from (top left, bottom right, etc) you need to move the Shadow layer several pixels up/down and several pixels right/left. In the example, I moved the shadow 5 down and 5 right. You can sometimes create the illusion that the object is high above the background by using much higher numbers… and note that the numbers do not have to be identical (e.g. could be 4 and 7, etc).

Step 5

You’ve probably now noticed that the shadow looks a bit unrealistically dark. To fix this, adjust the opacity of the Shadow layer—in the example, the opacity has been brought down to about 60%.

This is the example of very basic shadow. I am looking for some advanced shadow that makes an object look like in 3d mood.


Thanks for the tutorial David. Sounds really simple - (now to put it to the test ;))


Great tutorial, very useful


Which version are you using currently?. I will go through your tutorial. I have older version and looking for never version to improve my web design quality. which has some additional and extra helpful/shortcut options.


is there a shortcut PS Cs direct to drop shadow please ?

Back to top