How to Create Ultra-Realistic Shadows in Photoshop CC 2021-2024

Go beyond the drop shadow and create truly beautiful and ultra-realistic shadows in Photoshop CC 2021-2024 with this easy-to-use plugin.

Shadow Examples

In this tutorial, I’m going to show you how to install and use an awesome plugin called Shadowify that can help you create some ultra-realistic and creative shadows that go way beyond the capabilities of the drop shadow.

Here is an example of a perspective shadow the plugin can create.

Here is an example of a perspective shadow the plugin can create.

Here is an example of a drop shadow effect you can create.

Here is an example of a drop shadow effect you can create.

Here is an example of a card shadow, complete with corner blur, that Shadowify can create.

Here is an example of a card shadow, complete with corner blur, that Shadowify can create.

Lastly, here is an example of a crisp long shadow that you can create with this plugin.

here is an example of a crisp long shadow that you can create with this plugin.

Watch the Video Tutorial

If you enjoy learning by watching along, feel free to watch my tutorial below, which will guide you through both installing the plugin and how to use Shadowify.


Step-by-Step Tutorial

Install Plugin

Step 1 – Head to elements.envato.com and set up your account. You’ll get a 7-day free trial to try some of the thousands of resources on the site. Also, make sure your Adobe Creative Cloud account is active.

Step 1 - Head to elements.envato.com and set up your account. You'll get a 7-day free trial to try some of the thousands of resources on the site. Also, make sure your Adobe Creative Cloud account is active.

Step 2 – Type ‘shadowify’ into the search bar and click to locate the plugin.

Step 2 - Type 'shadowify' into the search bar and click to locate the plugin.

Step 3 – Click the arrow to download Shadowify 2, and make sure you know where the file is downloading to.

Step 3 - Click the arrow to download Shadowify 2, and make sure you know where the file is downloading to.

Step 4 – Once downloaded, assign a license to the plugin so that you can use it for your project. Using without a license will severely limit what you are able to do with the plugin. From there, add and download.

Step 4 - Once downloaded, assign a license to the plugin so that you can use it for your project. Using without a license will severely limit what you are able to do with the plugin. From there, add and download.

Step 5 – Locate the downloaded folder, and double-click the .ccx file to install the plugin.

Step 5 - Locate the downloaded folder, and double click the .ccx file to install the plugin.

Step 6 – As the plugin has been downloaded from outside the Creative Cloud marketplace, you may get the following message. If so, click to install locally.

Step 6 - As the plugin has been downloaded from outside the Creative Cloud marketplace, you may get the following message. If so, click to install locally.

Step 7 – Click ok to install the plugin.

Step 7 - Click ok to install the plugin.

Step 8 – Double check the installation by launching Creative Cloud (I use the desktop icon in the top bar) and go to stock & marketplace > plugins > manage plugins. There, you should see Shadowify 2 has been installed.

Step 8 - Double check the installation by launching Creative Cloud (I use the desktop icon in the top bar) and go to stock & marketplace > plugins > manage plugins. There, you should see Shadowify 2 has been installed.

Load and Use Plugin

Step 9 – Return to or load Photoshop, then go to plugins > Shadowify 2. From there, you can load the specific types of shadow or blur, or you can load the family by clicking ‘Shadowify 2.’

Step 9 - Return to or load Photoshop, then go to plugins > Shadowify 2. From there, you can load the specific types of shadow or blur, or you can load the family by clicking 'Shadowify 2.'

Step 10 – The plugin will load, and you can select the type of shadow you want by simply clicking the button to bring up that shadow or blur’s settings.

Step 10 - The plugin will load, and you can select the type of shadow you want by simply clicking the button to bring up that shadow or blur's settings.

Step 11 – Select the layer you would like to apply the shadow to.

Step 11 - Select the layer you would like to apply the shadow to.

Step 12 – Click the type of shadow you would like to generate to bring up the shadow’s settings menu. You can drag this menu into your shortcuts bar if you want to keep it on hand.

Each shadow has a number of options for you to adjust. You cannot preview your changes however, so it’s best to generate a shadow with the default settings, then use the sliders individually to change the shadow accordingly.

Step 12 - Click the type of shadow you would like to generate to bring up the shadow's settings menu. You can drag this menu into your shortcuts bar if you want to keep it on-hand.

Step 13 – If you like a particular shadow’s settings, you can save it as a preset in the presets menu.

Step 13 - If you like a particular shadow's settings, you can save it as a preset in the presets menu.

Step 14 – Once you are happy with your settings, click create shadow.

Step 14 - Once you are happy with your settings, click create shadow.

Step 15 – This step will depend on your computer’s processor speed, RAM, and graphics card. Each shadow you generate and change you make will run the plugin, which depending on the depth and complexity of the shadow, will take a little time. Be patient with it, and wait until the shadow generates.

Step 15 - This step will depend on your computer's processor speed, RAM, and graphics card. Each shadow you generate and change you make will run the plugin, which depending on the depth and complexity of the shadow, will take a little time. Be patient with it, and wait until the shadow generates.

Step 16 – Your new shadow will generate and a new layer will be created. Use the adjustments settings to make changes to the shadow, one at a time, and have fun!

Step 16 - Your new shadow will generate and a new layer will be created. Use the adjustments settings to make changes to the shadow, one at a time, and have fun!

Considerations

  • The plugin requires a hefty amount of processor speed and RAM, so as mentioned above, generating shadows can take a little time.
  • You can only make one change at a time to the shadow. Every time you input a new value or adjust a slider, the shadow will regenerate with the new settings.
  • Often the shadow created will be a layer mask or smart object layer, so you can also change the size, orientation, and shape of the shadow using the selection tool and so on, then use the shadow menu to make specific changes to the shadow.
  • If you want a quick drop shadow, this isn’t the plugin for you. The idea of this plugin is to generate very realistic shadows, but that does require more thought, time, and tweaking to get it right.

If you’re looking to take shadows to the next level, for flat objects, mockups, or other types of artwork, this is an amazing plugin to try.

It gives you a range of in-depth options, and while you will need patience to tweak the shadow, the results are definitely worth the time spent!

Featured Image: Licensed by Freepik

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