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Shadow Options for Footwear Product Images - Pixelz


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Giving your shoes a sense of space in product images by using shadows can help them stand out more naturally. By following the tips in this post, you will learn how to use shadows to your advantage, and make your images pop!

The best way to create natural looking shadows is to use a light source, either daylight or artificial. In order to do this, make sure that the light source is positioned to the side of your subject, enabling it to cast the shadow at an angle from your product and to give it a more three dimensional look. Photographing your product out of white will also give the shadow greater depth. There are different shadow options. When using natural shadows, the post-production work is minimal because your shadow already exists.

A natural shadow lighting setup

A natural shadow lighting setup

After minimal adjustments

After minimal adjustments

If you are unable to create a natural shadow by using lighting techniques, you can replicate one in post-production. Follow the steps below and watch the video to learn how to create a natural shadow using Photoshop.

  1. Open your original shoe cut out image in Photoshop or similar, and then a create a new layer with a white-fill background beneath the shoe image layer. Select the white area around your shoe image to mask out the shoe from the background. Remember to refine the edges so it has a smooth transition.
  2. Select the areas under the toe and behind the heel to create a curved layer mask. Feather the curved mask.
  3. Darken your curves layer, using the Image – Adjustments – Curves tool to simulate the shadowing under your shoe. Refine the mask a little more for an even better transition.
  4. Carefully brush out areas of your shadow layer manually to achieve the desired look. You may need to make parts of it less translucent than others, which may mean brushing certain areas more than others to make it look more realistic.
  5. Lastly, tweak your shoe layers mask by reducing its opacity a little so it doesn’t look so harsh against your shadow. This helps soften the shadow that may already be there to match the ones you have just created.

Added natural shadow

Added natural shadow

If you’d like to make your images a little more visually appealing and create a sense of environment, try creating a reflection shadow. This will make your product look as though it was photographed on a reflective surface. Follow the steps below and watch the video to learn how to create a reflection shadow using Photoshop.

  1. Open your original shoe cut out image in Photoshop or similar, and then create a duplicate layer from the cut out. Transform your duplicated shoe 180 degrees vertically so it looks upside down.
  2. Move your reflection layer behind your shoe layer and begin to mask out the background of your shoe layer. You will notice the background reflection shoe showing through. Refine this mask so you can’t see any white ground on the bottom of the shoe.
  3. Position the shoe so that the points of the sole are touching. Remember, a reflection is just a mirrored image of your object; all parts of the shoe may not touch.
  4. Use the opacity slider on the reflection layer to get the desired effect. You can play with this a little, but remember not everything should be super clear because a reflection is very faint compared to the product.
  5. Add in a gradient mask to your reflection so it fades off at the bottom. Make sure to refine any areas that look different.
  6. Lastly, add a slight curve on the bottom half of the image to allow the shoe to be grounded. It helps the reflection look more realistic and professional.

Added reflection shadow

Added reflection shadow

In some instances, for example detail shots of footwear, the product can be photographed from above. For these shots, use a drop shadow to create a sense of light source streaming in. Follow the steps below and watch the video to learn how to create a drop shadow using Photoshop.

Drop Shadow

Drop Shadow

  1. Open your original shoe cut out image in Photoshop or similar.
  2. Double click your shoe layer and a layer style box should pop up. Select ‘drop shadow’ and adjust your settings to give the desired shadow you want.

Footwear- Shadow3 from Pixelz on Vimeo.

There are many ways you can add a shadow, but the most important thing to keep in mind when adding one is to make the shadow look realistic. So select one type of shadow and continue to use it throughout all your images so it looks clean and consistent on your product pages.