Ever since I found designs that has this warped shadow effect I couldn't stop trying it out and see if I could do it. I've already done my research and I can't seem to get it perfectly. I'm trying to achieve this: enter image description here

I'm trying to achieve that shadow effect below the large image. It's on the green background. But so far this is what I came up with:

enter image description here

I don't think it's the same as the first image. Well, it's not really the same cause the shadow on the first picture is on a green background but I'm saying, it's really not perfect like the first one. Please tell me how to make this perfectly. I know there are a lot of ways to achieve this but I am really running out of ideas. I already tried every method I know of.

I already checked the said "duplicate". It's quite not the same as what I'm trying to achieve. I wanna achieve the first image's shadow PERFECTLY not similarly. I've already gotten it similarly now I wanna achieve it perfectly.

Here's more of what I came up with:

enter image description here

Okay, so this question is about modifying curved shadows to simulate a bulge that lifts high enough for some light scatter to soften the middle of the shadow. - user568458

^ that is exactly the problem. Thank you for pointing it out for me user568458

An update:

enter image description here

It's still not perfect but this is what I came up with trying what user568458's suggestion.

  • 1
    Okay, so this question is about modifying curved shadows to simulate a bulge that lifts high enough for some light scatter to soften the middle of the shadow. Seems legit. The key place you're going wrong is, you're eliminating the shadow from the middle, instead of softening it. Also, yours has nothing that is like the very thin dark 'lip' of the edge of the paper. A final tip for problems like this is, if you get stuck: get some real paper and light and try to re-create it in real life. Really understand what the light is doing and why. Commented Feb 9, 2014 at 22:33
  • @user568458, that is exactly what I'm having problems with. I'm posting up more of what I came up with but none of them are exactly perfect like how you're describing it.
    – CheeseCake
    Commented Feb 9, 2014 at 22:38
  • Yeah you want something between those two examples. A hard shadow for the lip, two soft shadows left and right for the upward curves for the areas where the gap is tight and primary and secondary light sources are blocked (softening both down and towards the centre as the distance between papers increases), and one very soft shadow over the whole area for areas reached by secondary scattered light but not primary light. Commented Feb 9, 2014 at 23:01
  • You should great a base gradient shadow (under the image layer. Select a round marquee with a 5-10% feather (try a few different levels. Fill it with gray. Then you need to warp transform it. Keep in mind you can also transform the size of the shadow too (as in squishing it) Once you have the one side, duplicate the layer and reflect the it. This should give you the uniformity and the desired effect.
    – Javi
    Commented Feb 10, 2014 at 1:58

3 Answers 3


If you look at it very carefully, it's not a centred shadow, and its not symmetrical.

The user has probably hand drawn a mask of the shape they desired, and then used a brush to scrape out some of the shadow where they felt it gave the best feeling of depth.

An easier way to do this is to use iBooks Author or Pages, they both have presets that do something very similar to this.

  • Unfortunately, this noob designer who asked the question doesn't own a mac. But thanks for the answer though. I'm voting it up I'm sure this is helpful to those who have macs. :)
    – CheeseCake
    Commented Feb 17, 2014 at 15:06

Make a Background and the Main Image Layer


Create a vector upside-down pentagon from the center


Transform the pentagon until getting an extended triangle at the bottom of the Main Image layer


Deselect the vector and add a mask to this vector layer. Click the mask thumbnail to make it active and using the gradient tool, make a reflected gradient from black to white from the center to the pentagon left or right


Select the pentagon transparency holding Cmd Mac or Ctrl Win and clicking the vector object thumbnail. Invert the selection.


Click the mask and fill the selection with 100% black. This is the resultant mask:


Select this mask holding Cmd Mac or Ctrl Win and clicking on it. Delete this vector layer. From the Background layer, with the mask selection active, make a Solid Color fill layer, 100% black multiply mode.

fill color

Click the Solid Color layer mask, apply a Gaussian Blur Effect and decrease the opacity

Gaussian Blur

Transform and move up or down this Solid Color Fill layer until getting the exact shadow shape


Image from unsplash.com


This is my starting image. It's a photo copied from the question and a new colored paper stripe below it (by Photoshop's notepaper filter). There's an empty layer in the middle for the shadow.

enter image description here

Draw a black narrow approximately circle sector to the empty layer. Make a selection and fill it. Place the sharp tip in the middle of the image. That's needed for easy blurring later:

enter image description here

Warp the sector to curved. This is exaggerated and it will cause much deeper bump in the background than the original:

enter image description here

We need blur which increases from left to right. One way to get it is to warp constant blur, but I use Filters > Blur > Radial Blur > Zoom:

enter image description here

Place the blurred shape in a good place. Scale and rotate if needed. Have the transform handles ON for easy stepping to transforms (it's a move tool option):

enter image description here

Insert a gradient layer mask for good transparency at the wider end. Duplicate the layer and flip the duplicate to make the other side:

enter image description here

A variation - not the same, but this is what I thought at first it to be:

enter image description here

The photo has a slight curved hole. The shadow is a blurred rectangle which in the middle is thinned with a layer mask and warped a little downwards:

enter image description here

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