Masking is one of the features that make Photoshop so powerful especially for photo manipulation. With masking, you can hide and show particular areas of your layer.
Designers also use drop shadows to add depth and dimension to artworks. As useful as it is, it is difficult to manipulate the drop shadow as you don't have complete control of where the drop shadow should appear.
As of writing this article, there is no definitive solution to this. However, you can improvise and isolate the drop shadow from your object and place it into a separate layer. Then mask it from there.
In this article, I will show you how I mask drop shadows in Photoshop.
Adding Drop Shadow to your object
Open your Photoshop document containing the object you want to apply the drop shadow to. For this demonstration, I will be adding a drop shadow to the Geekbits logo.
To add a drop shadow, right-click on the logo layer and select
blending options as shown below.
On the layer style window that opens, select
Drop Shadow. It is the last one in the layer styles.
The Drop Shadow tab has more options you can tweak such as the distance, spread, and size of the drop shadow. Tweak them to your liking. Click okay when you are done tweaking the drop shadow.
These options in the drop shadow tab are limited though. We can't choose where not to show the shadow. Let's say I don't want to show the drop shadow in the area marked in red, it would be difficult to do that without masking.
So let's see how we can mask that area.
1. Separating drop shadow from the layer
After setting the drop shadow to your liking, the layers panel should show the effects you have added to your object.
To separate the drop shadow into its layer, right-click on the Drop Shadow Effect and choose
Create layer. Click Okay when Prompted.
By doing this, the shadow will be on a separate layer as shown below.
2. Masking the drop shadow
Once we have the drop shadow on a separate layer, we have the freedom to edit it as we please. To add a mask on the drop shadow, select the drop shadow layer and click on the
Add layer mask icon at the bottom.
This will add a thumbnail next to the drop shadow.
Make sure that the thumbnail is selected. This is what we'll use to hide/show the parts we need.
B on your keyboard to select the Brush tool. Also, make sure the foreground color is set to black.
You can switch between black and white using the
X key on your keyboard.
Now paint on the layer mask to reveal or hide part of the drop shadow. In my case, it is the top part of the logo.
This is how it looks after painting the areas I don't need.
Not the ideal use case but you get the point.
You can refine your mask by adjusting the brush size, opacity, and hardness as necessary.
That is how you mask a drop shadow in Photoshop.
Using this trick, you can add drop shadows to your layers and mask the shadows easily. If you found the article helpful, share it with those who would find it interesting.
Thank you for reading and also let me know if you would like to see more Design tricks and tutorials in the comments below. . : )