I have the following image:

enter image description here

The gray version of the pin will obviously be it's shadow. I know how to skew it and all to make it look like a shadow.

What I want to do, but don't know how, is to blur the shadow version of the pin more at the top and less as you go towards the tip of the pin shadow.

I want to do that because in real life, the shadow will be more softer as it gets farther from the object that casts it (as can be seen in the bellow example).

enter image description here

Thank you!


Just to clarify: I need a map style shadow, not a simple drop shadow. Something like this:

enter image description here

  • 1
    Blur tool: graphicdesign.stackexchange.com/questions/5153/… I sometimes start with gaussian blur and then continnue with the blur tool.
    – Joonas
    Nov 21, 2012 at 19:45
  • Incase I forgot to mention. Try the Blur tool
    – Joonas
    Nov 22, 2012 at 12:26
  • I saw your comment (tho I forgot to answer it because I got excited I found a solution). The problem with your solution is that you'll have to be pretty skilled to nail a gradient progression blur on such a small layer. Thanks for your input anyway!
    – Nicu Surdu
    Nov 22, 2012 at 14:27

6 Answers 6


The best way I know to do what you're after is to apply a small blur may times. This gives you the most natural gradual change.

  • Enter quick mask by pressing Q.
  • Change to the gradient tool by pressing G.
  • Draw along the axis you want the blur to follow, covering the length of the object.

enter image description here

  • Exit quick mask by pressing Q again.
  • Choose Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur and use a small radius (0.5px etc).
  • Press command-F quite a few times to reapply the small blur.
  • Stop when you're happy.

enter image description here

If you're not happy, try again. The initial gradient selection makes a big difference to the result.

Once you're done, you can use Edit > Transform > Distort to get it in place with the correct perspective.

Edit: Lens blur can use the current selection opacity and use that as blur radius. This is a far better and easier way to achieve the result. Here’s an example of that in action: https://twitter.com/marcedwards/status/1334368371589058561

  • Your solution seems simpler than mine. I'll try it later, tho it appears you already did try it, so I'm confident it will work.
    – Nicu Surdu
    Nov 22, 2012 at 14:25

To skew the shadow properly, you need to rotate it, then use "transform->distort"enter image description here

I shortened the item and then adjusted the top edge to align with the horizon.

After you do this, you can duplicate the shadow layer and apply blur to one copy.

Add a layer mask to the blurred layer, select the mask itself by clicking on it in the layer palette (if selected, it will be outlined slightly). Then apply a black to clear or black to white gradient along the axis of skewed shadow of the pin. Experiment until it looks decent.

ctrl+click on the layer mask thumbnail to create a selection from it, then add a new layer mask the first copy of the skewed shadow. Deselect, ensure the mask is selected, and invert the colors (ctrl+i). You should now have a really blurred layer and a non-blurred shadow layer and a cross-fade between the two.

enter image description here

Note that for the particular use you have asked about, the shadow will appear to go through the map and not lay on it. To maintain the planes implied in google maps, You really should be skewing the pin itself as if you are looking straight down on the map.

  • I clearly said in my question: "I know how to skew it and all to make it look like a shadow." In your example you can clearly see the hard shadow still being there, and if you mask it, it will look ungly.
    – Nicu Surdu
    Nov 22, 2012 at 7:33
  • this is actually the same method as the one you approved. My example was to show the method, not to tweak and make a perfect specimen.
    – horatio
    Nov 27, 2012 at 15:01

In newer versions of Photoshop, such as 22.4, there is finally a proper solution:

Filter > Blur Gallery > Tilt-Shift

enter image description here

  1. Drag the center to the pointy part of the pin
  2. Rotate the effect to match the angle of the shadow
  3. Drag the lines to where you want the blur to begin and end (hold alt if you want the top/bottom to move in tandem)
  • It's a brilliant point. Nov 1, 2022 at 13:35

Heres I would create the blur of the Pin' shadow:

Right-click on the Pin layer

Select layer style

Check Drop Shadow in layer style

Move and adjust the shadow

On Shadow layer, you may blur the shadow via filter and change the opacity if you like

  • I don't need a simple drop shadow on the layer, I need a more elaborated shadow effect. I thought it was clear from my question. Updated the question.
    – Nicu Surdu
    Nov 22, 2012 at 7:38

There is an easier way. The following is for a receding shadow beneath and for an object that is floating level over a surface. It recognizes that if the distance from the shadow remains constant, the farther away something is, the sharper the shadow appears to be. This can also be used for a shadow from a vertical object by reversing the process vertically, in which case the blur increases over distance as the perceived ambient light washes out the shadow over distance.

Create the desired shape as a flat image; a straight-on birds-eye view, aligned on the X and Y (not at an angle). Make it large and make sure you have plenty of room at the sides.

Select and isolate the image, then transform > perspective and stretch the top right and left corners as wide as they can go and still have room for a broad blur. Blur the entire object to the maximum amount needed at the point that will be closest to the "camera".

Now select and isolate the result and use the perspective tool to squeeze the top corners together unit they are at the desired width. Now skew and distort the result so that it corresponds to the projected shape, then move it into position. Note that where the shadow is compressed horizontally, it will tighten up the pixels and give the false impression that it is darker. (If you wish, you can use the gradient trick below to compensate.)

If you want a more dramatic effect, create an empty layer mask and apply a vertical gradient from white to around 15% gray. This will make the shadow gradually fade out over the distance.

Another trick:

Create the shape of the shadow, then duplicate the layer as a backup and hide the original Create a new stand-alone channel and apply a black-to-white gradient. Use this to create a selection. With this selection active, apply your gradient. The lighter the area of the mask, the stronger the blur and vice-versa.

(This is old-school stuff. A million years ago I was a PS sysop on Compuserve.)

  • In the third to last sentence, did you mean to say "apply your blur"?
    – Andy Swift
    Nov 8, 2017 at 9:59

I know this is an old question, but I thought I would put this in for future visitors: if you are willing to use gimp rather than photoshop (gimp is free too!) then there is a fantastic plugin called G'MIC, which has the tool Blur by Color. This will do exactly what you want, properly and mathematically, with just a simple gradient (depth map) as input (see tutorial linked above in Blur by Color).

The tool is ridiculously powerful, and will do various direction blurs with full color depth maps too! Check out the examples in the link.

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