How to add a drop shadow in Illustrator in 2 Easy Steps

In this article, I will show you how to add a drop shadow in Illustrator. This effect, if used correctly, gives a nice 3D-like depth to your artwork. The most common way I apply this effect is to highlight my text if I have a stronger background. 

What you will Learn

  1. How to add a Drop Shadow in Adobe Illustrator
  2. Adjust Drop Shadow Properties
  3. Edit drop shadow in Illustrator
  4. Preview Drop shadow Changes
  5. Change the drop shadow color

How to add a Drop Shadow in Adobe Illustrator 

You can add a drop shadow to many elements or objects in Illustrator. For example, you can add the effect to text or illustrations.

You however need to be careful because the more complex the artwork is, the easier your tablet or laptop lags which can be very annoying.

I recommend using the effect on simple objects without too many points. To add a drop shadow effect, select the subject you want to add the effect, go to Effect>stylize>drop shadow.

A menu pops up to allow you to set up your effect. You can toggle the preview to see how it comes out as you work on it.

How to drop shadow in Illustrator

Drop Shadow Properties

From the pop-up, you will be able to adjust the color, blur levels, X and Y offset, preview the results, and opacity. Here is what all the effects will do.

Blending Mode

The blend mode is set as Multiply by default. It will determine how your effect interacts with other elements behind it. The default is normally ok.

drop shadow in Illustrator

Opacity

Opacity refers to how transparent or opaque your effect is. It is set between 0% and 100%. The default is 75%.100% fully opaque and 0% transparent. Set to the best look you prefer

Blur, X, and Y offset

X and Y positions work like a graph. Increasing towards + values will move the shadow to the right of the X-axis and vice versa. Same to Y.

This is how blurry or sharp you want the effect. Slight blurriness makes it seem realistic. You can also change the color of the shadow and how dark it is. Before you start doing anything, however, we recommend you toggle the preview on to see as your changes take effect. After finishing, click Ok.

drop shadow in Illustrator

How to edit drop shadow in Illustrator

If you have set your drop shadow but want to adjust it, you do not have to go back to Effect because this will create a new effect.

With the object selected, go to Window>Appearance>Drop Shadow. You can now edit the effect.

drop shadow in Illustrator

How to add a drop shadow in Photoshop

Unlike Illustrator, Photoshop works with raster image files instead of vector files. You can however still add a drop shadow in Photoshop. Here is how to do it.

Open Photoshop then go to File>Open and navigate to your file

Objects in Photoshop are arranged in layers. Select the one you want

drop shadow in Photoshop

With the layer selected go down to the bottom menu and click Fx and choose drop shadow

drop shadow

Adjust drop shadow effects from the menu that pops up

Steps How to add a drop shadow in Photoshop

  1. Open Photoshop then go to File>Open and navigate to your file
  2. Objects in Photoshop are arranged in layers. Select the one you want
  3. With the layer selected go down to the bottom menu and click Fx and choose drop shadow
  4. Adjust drop shadow effects from the menu that pops up

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denis maina kamau

Written by: Denis Maina

I am an experienced and skilled graphic designer with a strong focus on Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator. He specializes in creating a wide range of design materials, such as digital art, business cards, stationery, logos, flyers, posters, banner ads, brochures, PSD templates, and other graphics.

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