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How to Add the Drop Shadow Effect to Text and Images in AE?

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Mar 27, 2024• Proven solutions

Capturing the play between the light and shadow is what makes cinematography an art. Learning how to control the shadows in the footage you’re editing, will enable you to improve its quality, which is why you also need to know how to add artificial shadows to images or text layers you use in your projects. The Drop Shadow effect is commonly used to add depth to static and animated text, but there are lots of creative ways you can use this effect to enhance the footage you’re editing. Read on if you would like to find out more about the process of creating the Drop Shadow effect in Adobe After Effects.

How to Apply the Drop Shadow Effect in AE?

Adding a drop shadow to the footage you’ve chosen randomly won’t necessarily produce the results you want, because how visually pleasing the effect is going to be depends on how the shot is composed. If a shot contains one or two objects against a solid background, then applying drop shadow can be effective, but if the background contains a lot of details you might want to consider other methods of creating shadows in AE.

The Perspective folder in the Effects & Presets menu contains the Drop Shadow effect, and the only thing you have to do to access it is to type its name in the Effects Browser. You can then just drag and drop the effect to a layer on the timeline and proceed to adjust its settings in the Effect Controls panel. Once you apply the effect a soft-edged outline will appear behind the layer, which makes it a great choice if you want to create an outline around an object. You can fine-tune the opacity of the shadow, alter its direction, increase and decrease its distance from the source or change its color to make the effect look more convincing.

Adding the Drop Down Shadow to Text in After Effects

Logos, watermarks and all other types of text animations often lack depth, and for that reason, animators often create the 3D effect by using the drop shadow. During the process of making a handwritten animated text, adding the drop shadow effect below or behind the text can help you make the animation look more professional.

Before you start you’ll have to select all the layers in the animation and hit Precompose, in order to merge them into a single layer. Duplicate the animation layer, by selecting it and pressing the CMD+D keyboard shortcut. Click on the 3D checkbox to turn the animation layer into a 3D layer or alternatively you can just toggle the switches on modes and select the 3D option. Press the R button, while having the animation layer selected to gain access to the Position properties. Adjust the X-rotation and Z-rotation properties to reposition the text and click play to see if both text layers are animating at the same time.

Head over to the Effect&Pressets panel and use the Effects Browser to locate the Fill effect. Drag and drop the effect to the shadow layer and then change its color from the Effect Controls panel. Additionally, you can add the Gaussian Blur effect to the shadow layer if you would like to make the text in the shadow less sharp. Click on the shadow layer and press the T button to bring up the Opacity parameter and reduce its value to about 20%. The rendering process, however, may take a while, especially if the computer you’re working on doesn’t have a lot of processing power.


The text is an important part of any video’s visual identity, as it can make a social media video or a full-feature movie more appealing to the audience. Nonetheless, the text can sometimes look two-dimensional, and you can solve this problem easily by creating a drop shadow effect and adding some depth to it. On the other hand, mastering text animation techniques requires a lot of hard work, since this task requires a developed set of design skills. Do you use the Drop Shadow effect in your work often? Leave a comment below and share your experiences with us.

If you want to create drop-shadow effects in an easier way, you can try Wondershare Filmora. Download Filmora video editor today and try it free.

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Benjamin Arango
Benjamin Arango is a writer and a lover of all things video.
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Benjamin Arango

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