How To Make Beautiful Customizable Drop Shadows In Photoshop

Want to make your texts stand out? In this tutorial, you’ll learn how to make beautiful, customizable drop shadows in Photoshop to make your text POP!

By adding drop shadows to the foreground objects on your composite, creates a contrast against the background and brings the object forward, which will grab the attention of the viewer.

Apply the Drop Shadow Layer Style

Now, start off with two things on your working document.

On the Layers panel, there is a clean solid color Background layer and a simple Text layer.

Start by double-clicking on the side of the Text layer to bring out the Layer Style window

To make beautiful, customizable drop shadows in Photoshop, check the box for Drop Shadow and it will take you to its Properties panel

Use the Structure and Quality controls to edit the adjustments on your drop shadow.

You can also click-and-drag the shadow with the Move tool to reposition it. 

For a more natural look, you can change the color of the shadow to a darker pink. Sample the background color, then, darken the color from the color picker.

Then, press OK to apply the changes.

To add a few more shadows to the Text layer, click on the plus icon beside the Drop Shadow label.

Click-and-drag the shadow to reposition it where you want it to be.

Again, you may freely apply the adjustments to the new Drop Shadow

For the second Drop Shadow, you may need to increase the size in order to blur it out more.

Then, add a third Drop Shadow by clicking on the plus icon beside the label.

Adjust the first Drop Shadow and reduce its size and shadow opacity for the illusion that it’s closer to the Text itself.

Then, press OK to apply the changes.

Convert Layer Styles into Layers

Now, you have three Drop Shadow effects under your Text layer. 

To make the shadows look more realistic, you need to distort the shadows, and to do that, you need to convert them into Layers. 

Right-click on the Text layer’s fx icon and select Create Layers. Then, press OK.

Right away, you’ll see a new list of Drop Shadow layers under the Text layer.

Convert the Shadow Layers into a Smart Object

Before you can distort them, you need to convert them into a Smart Object so you can work non-destructively.

Note: A Smart Object is a container that can hold one or more layers. It allows you to apply editable adjustments, distortions, filters, and transformations.

With the three Drop Shadow layers selected, right-click > select Convert to Smart Object.

If you press Ctrl T (Windows) or Command T (macOS) to transform, you will get a bounding box that covers the entire canvas itself. You need to uncheck one box to prevent that from happening.

To show you, undo the latest step by pressing Ctrl Z (Windows) or Command Z  (macOS)

On the Layers panel, notice the icon beside each of the Drop Shadow layers that is the cause of the issue.

Double-click on the side of the layer to bring out the Layer Style window.

Under Advanced Blending, check the box for Transparency Shapes Layer and you will notice that the dual box icon disappears from the Drop Shadow layer. 

Press OK to exit the window, and do the same for the other layers. 

NOTE: The reason why right-clicking on the layer and selecting Clear Layer Style is counterintuitive is because it removes the styles you apply on the layer.

Distort the Shadows Smart Object

Hold Shift as you click on all the Drop Shadow layers to select them. 

Then, right-click > Convert to Smart Object.  

You may notice that it is now confined to a smaller bounding box.

As you press Ctrl T (Windows) or Command T (macOS) to Transform, it is easier to apply distortion.

Right-click > Distort so you can move the shadow around to position and create the effect that you want. 

Warp the Shadows Smart Object

Right-click > Warp and you can click-and-drag on the points to warp the perspective of the shadow as shown below. 

On the Options bar, you can click the Vertical Split icon to create a split so when you adjust the points on the left, you don’t affect the right area.

When you’re happy with the warping, click on the checkmark in the Options bar to commit to the changes.

Since you are working with a Smart Object, you can always press Ctrl T (Windows) or Command T (macOS) to apply another transformation or edit your last transformation. 

Apply a Bevel & Emboss Layer Style

If you want to add more dimension to your text,  check the box for Bevel & Emboss to add it as a layer style. Be sure to adjust the Structure and Shading to achieve the look that you want. 

The added highlights and shadows will definitely make your text stand out.

This is also extremely helpful, especially if your background color and foreground color are similar or of the same luminosity.

That is how you make beautiful customizable drop shadows in Photoshop in just a couple of steps!

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