Take the 2-minute tour ×
Graphic Design Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for professional graphic designers and non-designers trying to do their own graphic design. It's 100% free, no registration required.

We all know the default Photoshop drop shadow:

enter image description here

I know that ideal is subjective, but I have a hard time producing anything that doesn't seem nearly as crude as this does.

A drop shadow that is more "ideal" is one like this:

enter image description here

I love how the drop shadow is sharp and defined (almost black) up close to the object, but has a large spread. I suspect it might be achievable with contours, but I don't know well how to utilize them.

This is a quick effort:

enter image description hereenter image description here

And these settings don't work well at all on text.

Anyone have any better advice? How do I produce a drop shadow that isn't as crude-looking as the default? Using what techniques can I achieve drop shadows like in the example image?

share|improve this question
1  
That image is not one shadow... it's at least 2, if not 3. –  Scott Mar 28 '12 at 4:44
1  
There's no ideal drop shadow, so as it's currently phrased, this is not a productive or answerable question. However, if you want a drop shadow that is like those pictured, you simply need to soften the drop shadow and increase its opacity and perhaps a little bit more spread. The reason you can't reproduce it is because you're using different foreground and background colors. If you use a dark background that is closer to the shadow color and a lighter foreground color, then there will be sharper contrast between the FG and shadow while blending the shadow with the BG more. –  Lèse majesté Mar 28 '12 at 5:14
    
@Lèsemajesté Added answerable questions. –  NickC Mar 28 '12 at 5:36
add comment

1 Answer

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Scott is right. To reproduce the effect I had to use 3 sets of drop shadows. One for the buttons, one for the text, and one that is slightly in-between the two. Here is the result:

(The right half of each icon is the original; the left half is the reproduction.)

Drop shadow sample next to original

There are some kerning differences, and I didn't bother to reproduce the background noise, but it's fairly close for a quick mockup.

Here are the settings for the two main shadows: enter image description here

Here is the PSD file.

share|improve this answer
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.