How to Apply a Drop Shadow in After Effects

By Thomas Lynn

Updated September 28, 2017

Drop shadow effects often are used by graphic designers and editors.
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Adobe After Effects is post-production software that enables video editors and graphic artists to add special effects to their videos. A drop shadow is one of the program's special effects that can be added to give your video a more professional, high-quality appearance. Drop shadows give on-screen text and graphics the appearance of floating by creating a "shadow" version behind the original version. Drop shadows often are used by movie studios, news broadcast stations and aspiring filmmakers.

Select the text or image to which you wish to add a drop shadow in the "Layers" window. Drop shadows are effective on free-floating text or graphics, such as watermarks or on-screen credits. Select only one layer at a time because you will create conflicting drop shadows if you have more than one object selected to shadow.

Click "Effect," "Perspective" and then "Drop Shadow." This opens an "Effects Control" window for your selected layer and object.

Edit your drop shadow's attributes using the "Effects Control" window. This window allows you to edit multiple parts of your drop shadow to achieve a desired look. Enter an "Opacity" percentage; this number represents the degree of darkness or lightness in your drop shadow. Also edit your drop shadow's direction and distance from its source, along with its softness and shadow color.


Always save a copy of your work before and after editing. Saving copies ensures you don't lose valuable data during the editing process.