How to Add a Drop Shadow in Adobe Illustrator

Your creations will look more three-dimensional and like they’re springing off the page if you add drop shadows to them. You can add a drop shadow to text, a shape, or numerous objects in Illustrator to give your creations a three-dimensional appearance.

My name is Aly, I have been using Adobe Illustrator for years now as a graphic designer, and I am also Adobe Illustrator certified. In this article, I will show you how to add a drop shadow in Adobe Illustrator. 

Key Takeaways

  • An effect that creates the illusion of a shadow on an object is called a drop shadow. Drop shadows improve and add depth and dimension to an image.
  • Drop shadows give the illusion that an object is hovering, which is why they are most frequently employed on buttons and typography.

How to Add a Drop Shadow in Illustrator 

Follow the steps below to learn to add a drop shadow. Adding a drop shadow to text works exactly the same as adding a shadow to shapes, so you can use the same steps below if you want to create shadow text. 

Step 1: Pick the shape(s) you want to add a drop shadow in Illustrator, then select Effect > Stylize > Drop Shadow. This will launch the Drop Shadow box, where you can customize Illustrator’s drop shadow settings.

To see a live preview of the effect that has been applied as well as any adjustments you decide to make, make sure the Preview box is checked.

Step 2: In Illustrator, you can choose the blend mode for your drop shadow by using the Mode dropdown option. Although we’ll utilize Overlay in this example, feel free to experiment with the other blend modes.

The up/down arrows on your keyboard can be used to quickly switch between blend modes.

Step 3: In Illustrator, the Opacity value controls the transparency of your drop shadow. To quickly change it, simply place the mouse cursor over the current value and roll the mouse.

You may alternatively type the required value directly into the input field or use the arrow buttons. The value will be increased or decreased by 10% if you click one of those arrow buttons while holding down the Shift key. In this instance, we’ll leave it at 50%.

Step 4: The location of your drop shadow in Illustrator is controlled by the X and Y Offset parameters.

Your shadow moves vertically with the Y Offset while it moves horizontally with the X Offset. When you want to move your shadow up or to the left, set a negative value. We’ll set both values for these cases to 20 pixels.

Step 5: The blur setting determines how blurry your shadow will be. This can be increased to create a larger shadow or decreased to add a crisp drop shadow. We’ll set it to 15 px for this demonstration.

Step 6: The color of your drop shadow in Illustrator can be changed using the Color tool. Simply select the color that best suits your needs by clicking the color wheel. We’ll go with the standard black for this illustration.

Step 7: When using Darkness, the fill color of your shape has an impact on the color of your drop shadow. To utilize the same color for your shadow that you did for the shape’s fill, set this value to 0%.

Any time you want to utilize a darker fill color for your drop shadow effect, simply increase the Darkness. Once you’re finished, click OK to finish adding a drop shadow in Illustrator.

Tip: If you wish to delete the drop shadow, you can delete the effect on the Appearance panel. Open the Appearance panel from Window > Appearance. Select the drop shadow effect and click Clear Appearance

Final Thoughts

Now you know how to create a drop shadow in Adobe Illustrator! Keep in mind that for this example I used a shape but this method also works the same way with text as well.

Keep practicing and playing around with the settings in drop shadows to see what works best with certain shapes or text. 

Any questions about how to add a drop shadow in Adobe Illustrator? Leave a comment and let me know.

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