For any image, shadows are essential to the impression of vitality, character and a sense of depth and texture. The types of effects are multiple and range from mirroring and reflection to a simple, yet effective grey drop shadow. Each effect can transform your images in different ways to provide the exact expression you are looking for.
Drop shadow, natural shadow, cast shadow, and reflection shadow are the most common effects used in images and provides very different outcomes as we shall see below. If you are looking for a shadow effect not described here please don’t hesitate to contact our customer service as we can probably also help you with any special requirements you may have.
Drop Shadow :
Drop shadow provides the impression that the object is slightly raised above its background and is almost hovering in free air. In some cases, the drop shadow effect can make the object look like it has a faint glow.
Using advanced blending and softening techniques, we create drop shadows that exactly emulate their natural counterparts, with the bonus that they can be easily manipulated to create a range of variations. As a consequence, we can easily adjust the shadow size, the angle of the shadow, the hardness of the drop shadow, the shadow distance and the opacity of the shadow.
When to use drop shadow effect :
- To provide a sense of depth and texture
- To distinguish product from background (ex. white dress on white background)
- When you want a uniform look to multiple objects (ex. products in ecommerce)
Natural Shadow :
A natural shadow provides, as the name revels, a natural shadow. This means that the visible shadow from the object in most cases originates from one specific light source. Further, the natural shadow is always cast onto the surface the object is placed on.
Unlike the drop shadow effect where the light source is hard to determine and the object seems to hover in free air the natural shadow effect is simulating a shadow which is cast onto the surface the object is placed on and the source of light simulates the sun or a single lamp in a room.
When to use natural shadow effect :
- To add character and context
- To provide a sense of depth in the picture
- To get a natural look
Mirror effect and Reflection shadow :
Mirror effect and Reflection shadow are popular names for reflection shadow services. The term Mirror effect comes from tools and functionality in software’s, such as Photoshop, and refers to a technique whereby you can mirror an object around an axis creating a mirrored version of the original object.
By adding reflection shadow, we can make the product look like it was photographed on a highly reflective surface like a high gloss table. Reflection shadow creates the illusion that the product featured in your photo is not simply a disembodied picture, but has a depth and solidity which comes from its relationship to another surface.
When to use mirror effect and reflection shadow :
- When to use mirror effect or reflection shadow:
- To make your surface & object “shine” in the image
- To provide a context without applying background
- To create depth and 3D illusion
Existing shadow or cast shadow :
In some cases, we can use the existing shadow in a photo. When possible we can apply clipping paths, and retain any original shadows whilst removing the background and providing an appropriate level of opacity and transparency to the shadows. If the existing shadows cannot be used due to background condition or the original lighting conditions, we can still provide a shadow which will look completely natural.
Other considerations :
Although adding a shadow effect is, at a fundamental level, quite simple, the difference between a rudimentary creation and the result of a professional image processing service is immense. In essence, a drop shadow is just a grey or black shape which matches the main image and is inserted beneath it and slightly offset.
Softening the edges of the shadow helps improve the look and professionalism of the image, but there are a wide range of factors that need to be kept in mind. It is, for example, important to ensure that you maintain the proportion between the shadow and the size of the object and that the direction of the light is kept the same when creating multiple shadows. This becomes even more complicated when you realize that there’s a direct correlation between the distance of the image and the background, and the colour of the shadow itself. adding reflection shadow, we can make the product look like it was photographed on a highly reflective surface like a high gloss table. Reflection shadow creates the illusion that the product featured in your image isn’t simply a disembodied image, but has a depth and solidity which comes from its relationship to another surface.
Use shadow effects with care – Even the most perfectly staged images might not be suitable for shadow effects when the context in which they are used changes. Too much effect, even if it’s natural, can make an image look cheap and gaudy.
Understatement is the best way to proceed when it comes to high-quality publications and our operatives know exactly how to achieve that look. They work closely with our clients to understand how an image is being used and the exact requirements for the finished article. Even if a product is captured without a reflection or shadow, we can create an elegant and natural looking mirror effect or shadow which will help showcase your products in the best way possible. Indeed, the finishing touches on shadows and reflections make all the difference between a professional image and one that has simply been captured and pasted into a layout.
How we do shadow effect :
Pixel Expert bd are proud to work with some of the world’s leading publishers, offering a range of services that transform images from the ordinary into the extraordinary. Our skilled DTP operatives have years of experience optimizing photos – whether online or in print. We recognise it’s important to work with our clients to understand how you will deploy the image – and can advise on the best types of shadow effect that can help transform pictures from flat and lifeless into something dynamic and glossy.