Shadows in Illustrator

    ●   Shadows are not easy to do well, but they are a major component of realism.

    ●   You can make circular shadows or rectangular shadows.

    ●   And don't forget the plain old Drop Shadow effect to add shadows in Illustrator.

Learn About:

Gradient Tool Transparency

  •   This tutorial is part of the Shadow Life Project and the Make a Scene Project.

Other People's Work:

Here are examples of work inspired by this tutorial.


Step #1: Open Your Project in Illustrator ~

Make a New Layer, and lock your other layers.

Drag the New Layer behind your object.

Step #2: Ellipse Tool ~

Get the Ellipse Tool or hit the keyboard shortcut letter (L) …

… turn the Stroke off and make the Fill Black.

Drag an oval circle around the bottom approximately where you want your shadow.

Step #3: Radial Gradient ~

Now click the Gradient icon or hit the keyboard shortcut: Cmd(⌘)+F9 and select Radial as the Type.

Step #4: Reverse the Gradient ~

Hit Reverse Gradient so black is on the inside and white is on the outside …

Step #5: Opacity of the Shadow ~

Click on the Gradient Slider on the lighter side …

… and lower the Opacity of the lighter side so the background will show through, especially if you have a background.

Step #6: Aspect Ratio ~

Locate the Aspect Ratio setting for your shadow and lower it (if necessary) …

aspect ratio

The Aspect Ratio squeezes the Gradient to fit inside the oval better …

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Step #7: Horizontal Shadows ~

Another easy way to make shadows is to copy the outline of the object by selecting it and hitting the keyboard shortcut Cmd (⌘) +C

copy the outline

… and pasting it on a new layer BELOW the other layers.

copy paste new layer

Step #8: Gradients and Strokes ~

With the object selected, set stroke to none stroke none (shadows don't have stroke), and set the Fill to Gradient by clicking the small icon or hitting the keyboard shortcut (>) …

stroke none fill gradient

Step #9: Free Transform ~

Go to: Effect > Distort & Transform > Free Transform

Step #10: The "Other" Gradient Tool ~

Get the Gradient Tool or hit the keyboard shortcut letter (G) …

… and use it to adjust the gradient to your requirements.

Step #11: Opacity of the Shadow ~

Double-Click on the Gradient Slider for the lighter side …

… and don't forget to lower the Opacity of the lighter side so the background will show through …

Last Step: Save and Attach ~


Attach it!

  •   ALWAYS save your projects using the following naming convention:

  •   DO NOT name your project any other way - Improperly named projects will not receive credit and you will be sad.

  •   NEVER leave your work on the desktop or depend on a flash drive - instead, save your work in a folder you can find later - preferably on a virtual drive where it can be backed up.

Other Resources: http://vectips.com/tutorials/create-non-raster-drop-shadows/