Creating Artificial Shadows In Photoshop

In this live workshop Karl demonstrates how to create realistic-looking artificial shadows in Photoshop.

Following on from a previous live show where he demonstrated how to create shadowless lighting for product photography on a white background, Karl explains important considerations for creating artificial shadows.

Karl guides you through the process of creating a shadow for a product, showing how to quickly and easily make selections, how to create halos/glows around a product, and how to use multiple layers to get the most realistic results.

To end the show, Karl also shows a second, quicker technique for creating artificial shadows which may be good for those who aren't as familiar with Photoshop. Additionally, Karl also shares tips for creating shadows for different coloured objects and transparent objects throughout the show.

Topics covered in this show include:
  • Creating shadows in Photoshop
  • Understanding shadows
  • How to create selections & cutouts
  • Working with layers and masks
  • Creating shadows for different coloured objects
  • How to change the background colour
  • Tips for creating shadows for transparent objects

For further Photoshop demonstrations, check out our post-production section.

If you have any questions about this show, please post in the comment section below.



  1. Thanks for this. I wondered if Karl had any tips for creating a consistent shadow across multiple products. I have the same shoes in various colors and I am creating shadows as in the tutorial. At the moment I am just making each layer mask for the shadow individually therefore I’m not sure about how to make them look consistent. Is this just done by eye or is there an ingenious way of ensuring consistency? Copying the layer mask would not be too precise as the shoes are not perfectly aligned between photos. Thank you!

    1. Hi Geoff, hadn’t thought about this before because I just do it by eye because often different products (or shoes) will be dark or light so that would also affect how dense the shadows should look as well as total height of the product. I suppose it would be possible to save your selection shape and then create a gradient using the gradient tool to make the mask within your selection shape but it seems it might be a bit convoluted. As mentioned in the show you can create actions to do some of the donkey work and then just finish off with the brush tool, which by the way is easier if using a pen and tablet.

  2. Great tutorial! I will try to make the blurred layers as smart object so I can adjust the blur at any time to adjust the shadows. Carl, do you think that’s a good approach?

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