A good drop shadow is hard to come by. There is no shortage of Photoshopped “shadows” on the web that are nothing more than a grayscale circle with a little Gaussian blur. Rare is the computer-generated shadow that captures the complexity and detail you’ll find in real life.
In their simplest form, shadows are obstructions of light produced by the object casting them and the light surrounding it – but their shape, color, and intensity is dependant upon a whole goodybag of variables. The distance between the object and the start of shadow and the direction and intensity of the light all impact how a shadow appears. Which means people wanting to replicate their dynamism in Photoshop have their work cut out for them.
Aaron demonstrated his process for producing realistic-shadows from scratch during his Retouching Product Photography class. Using a photo of ear buds against a white backdrop, Aaron taught how to mimic shape and convey distance using some very simple techniques.
To make your own shadows less flat and more believable, check out the complete tutorial below:
For more tips on mastering Photoshop from Aaron Nace and other instructors, Photoshop Week 2016 is on-air to check out for free.
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