How to remove a shadow

How to remove a shadow in Photoshop!! Removing a shadow from photos in Photoshop is one amazing editing that can blow your mind. Shadow is an effect created depending on the light source and the shape of the subject. According to Google, “Shadow is a dark area or shape produced by a body coming between rays of light and a surface”. So, the conditions of a shadow are light, subject body, and surface.

Here we will discuss how to remove a shadow in Photoshop. Remove Shadow from Photo Gimp is another program that is popular and close to Photoshop. Let’s begin.

Photoshop Tools

You need to know a few Photoshop tools to remove the shadow from a photo surface. We will use the legendary brush tool for this. And, Photoshop removes the shadow from the face is the most difficult of all shadow removal. Here we will discuss three procedures.

However, they are methods of working procedure. The real creativity is up to you. You can turn any ordinary image into a masterpiece.

Removing shadows from the subject is the prime objective. The subject may be living or neutered. If the subject image is neuter the process of editing is simple enough. The operation is a little hard if the subject is a living thing like a human being. Don’t be afraid.

The procedure is not much difficult. Process of how to remove a drop shadow in Photoshop we will go with. You just need to follow along.

Using The Brush Tool (Remove a shadow)

The way Shadow Removing

The Brush tool is one of the most used tools in Adobe Photoshop. The action of the tool is remarkable for adornment. Sometimes you only need the tool to remove the shadow from the image subject. However, there are various situations when you may get bored using the tool for a long time. You can use this tool only if the subject is not with enough complicated outlook.

Editing Procedure

Open the Photoshop program on your computer and load the image. You can use ‘Open’ from the ‘File’ menu and locate the image or just drag and drop it in the Photoshop window. They both do the same thing. Make a copy of the image by using Ctrl+J for Win or Command+J for Mac. Or you can click and drag the background layer on to ‘Create a new layer’ button.

Sample image (Remove a shadow)

Creating a copy (Remove a shadow)

Create A New Layer Over The Background

The process is non-destructive. So you do not need to worry much about the image safety. But copying the ‘Background’ is a good habit to keep your original copy intact. Create a new layer over the Background copy and hide the original Background layer.

New layer

Tools Column

Now we will use the Brush Tool from the Tools Column. Select the new layer and zoom in on the image so that you can get a better look. Make sure the opacity is at 100% and Flow at 15% or less. I am using the Flow 13% for the image.

However, it may vary depending on the image quality. But it is convenient to use a low flow for perfection. Take a sample from a nearby area of the shadow. Brush over the shadow until the darkness gets removed. Do the same for all the shadows on the face. By the way, you can sample from other areas with a matching tone.

Settings for brushing

Use Of Brush Tool

You can see a harsh shadow over the right eyebrow and cannot use the Brush tool there. What would you do then? Very simple. Make a copy of the eyebrow that has no shadow. Just a small area that can cover the other one. Select the Background copy layer and take the lasso tool. Mark an area with the lasso.

Making a selection (Remove a shadow)

Flip Horizontal

Copy the area to a new layer by pressing Ctrl+J for Win or Command+J for Mac. Put the layer on top and use Ctrl+T for Win or Command+T for Mac to get the Transformation tool. Right-click on the copy and select ‘Flip Horizontal’. Place the copy over the shadowed eyebrow.

Positioning a copy

Reduce the opacity to 75% and mask the layer. Use the Brush tool on the mask. With the foreground color black brush over the edge of the layer to match. Set the Flow at 100% before brushing.

Opacity adjustment

Finishing Touch

We are almost done. Now, select ‘layer 1’ once again and add some noise. Go to Filter>Noise>Add noise. I am using 1.4% for this image. It may vary depending on the image quality. The final output is as below.

Final image

By Frequency Separation (Remove a shadow)

The way Shadow Removing

You can work separately with color and texture by the Frequency Separation method. The process has two different layers. Together they act like one. We are using the same image as before. The frequency Separation process is a little more complicated than the last one. But the result is more satisfactory.

Editing procedure

You need to make two copies of the background layer and name them ‘Color’ and ‘Texture’. Naming is not mandatory but good for understanding. 1st we will work with the color. Select the color level and add ‘Gaussian Blur’ from Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur. Use the Radius 4 pixels for the image and click ok.

Adding Gaussian Blur (Remove a shadow)

Now, select the texture layer and go to Image>Apply Image. Choose as mentioned below for the image resolution 8 Bit or 16 Bit. If your image is 8 Bit go with 8-Bit settings and if 16 Bit, go with 16-Bit settings. Then change the ‘Blend Mode’ from ‘Normal’ to ‘Linear Light’.

Select Both Layers

Select both layers (Color & Texture) and press Ctrl+G for Win or Command+G for Mac to make a group. If you hide or show the group and compare it with the background layer, you will see no difference. The reason is, the image got separated by the two layers that we make changes just now. If you work on one layer, the other will not get affected.

Frequency Separation settings

Add a new layer just above the color layer (Layer 1). Select the Brush tool and take a sample from a clean area and paint over the shadow. Make sure the Opacity is at 100% and Flow is around 15%. Select the ‘soft round brush’ and use it over the shadow until it matches the tone beside it. It will take time but repeat the process for all the areas with the shadow.

You can increase or decrease the size of the brush by using the ‘[ & ]’ from the keyboard. The activity will be easier with the proper brush size.

Frequency Separation action (Remove a shadow)

You will see some uneven textures where the shadows were. We need to take care of those. Our next step will be to take care of the texture.

Uneven texture (Remove a shadow)

Select the ‘Texture’ layer and take the ‘Patch Tool’ for this operation.


With the Patch tool, select an area that has a harsh texture. Now, click and drag the selected area to a clean textured surface. Continue doing the same for all the areas with impure textures.


The result is as below following the above process. But, we are not done yet. The finishing touch is still pending.

Close to finish

Finishing Touch

Select ‘Layer 1’ again and select the ‘Brush’ tool. Brush over the uneven tones following the same brushing as before. Take a sample from a nearby clean area and brush over the impurities. The final output will be as below.

Final image

With Curves and Masks (Remove a shadow)

The way Shadow Removing

Curves and Masks are completely non-destructive processes. Anything you do applies to separate layers. So, you do not need to worry about any mistakes. You can go back to the original form or correct the mistakes anytime you want. However, there is a con to the process. When the shadow is harsh enough, it is quite difficult to remove it with the process. But if the shadow is soft, it is easy and time-saving.

Editing procedure

We will use the same image for this procedure as well. Though there is a harsh shadow on the image we will go with it. You may need to give more time for this one than the above procedures. Curves and Mask’s process is a little more time-saving and effective way for the image with soft shadows.

For the harsh shadows, the process is a little lengthy. However, let’s use the process to remove the harsh shadow.

Open The Image in Adobe Photoshop

First, open the image in Adobe Photoshop. As we already know the activities of Photoshop, I will not waste time with details. Create a ‘Curves adjustment layer’ and brighten the image below the curve settings.

Curve implimentation

Select the Mask and press Ctrl+I for Win or Command+I for MAC to invert.

Invert masking

Soft Round Brush

Take the soft round brush. Set the Opacity to 100%, Flow around 7%, and Smooth to 100%. Brush over the shadow a couple of times until it reduces to the minimum. As already said, the shadow is too harsh. So, you cannot make it perfect at once.

Settings for brushing

Curves and Masks layer activity ends here. But, still, there are some harsh textures left on the face. We will take care of them in a moment.

Harsh effects

Lasso Tool

Before that, we need to copy the corner of the eyebrow that has no shadow over it. You see, shadow went over the other eyebrow and you cannot do any good without a clean one. So, we will copy the good one and put it over the shadowed one same as the first procedure.

Make sure you select the background layer then make the copy. Take the layer to the top so that no layer can affect this one. You can use the ‘Lasso Tool’ because it is convenient.

Copy placing in position

Place the copy in the exact position and mask it. Get the soft round brush, choose the foreground color black, and brush over the edge of the copy to match the shade below.

Masking in copy layer

Take A New Layer

Take a new layer right over the Curves adjustment layer. Select the soft round brush and take a sample from the nearby area with a smooth tone. You can also select the Color Picker tool first to select sample size 5X5. It will take an average sample of 5 by 5 pixels. Also, select the sample ‘Current and Below’.

Now, take the brush, press and hold Alt for Win or Option for MAC and click on a clean area. Brush over the shadowed area until you remove all the impurities caused by the shadow. Take care of the lips, eyes, and throat as well. Keep the opacity 100% and set it to flow to 15% or less depending on the image category.

New layer usage (Remove a shadow)

Finishing Touch | How To Remove A Shadow in Photoshop

We are almost done with the procedure. If you are already satisfied with the current result, no need to go further. However, we will add a finishing touch to the image. It is not mandatory but you can apply it for better finishing.

Take a new layer on top of all layers, select the soft brush again, and paint over the skin areas. The process will smoothen the skin tone without any harm to the textures.

Make sure to keep the opacity 100% and flow not more than 5%. Brush gently and if you are using a Wacom Tablet device, brush with less pressure. The output is as below. Very minor differences but looks more furnished. Well, as already said the procedure is optional and you may skip this step.

Finishing touch (Remove a shadow)

The final output is as below.

Final image (Remove a shadow)

We have discussed three major and effective procedures for you. The Brush Tool is common for all procedures. You cannot ignore the necessity of the procedure at all. However, there are other ways you can implement to remove a shadow from the image.

Removing shadows from the face app is sometimes good to save time. They might be a little more complicated than these but you can do it. By the way, you can remove a shadow from photo online services but that is not good enough. We are just giving you the touch of the working procedure. The real performance for the best result lies in your efficiency and creativity. Good luck.

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FAQs | How To Remove A Shadow in Photoshop

What is the literal meaning of shadow?

Ans: Shadow is the dark part over an image subject, not relevant to the original image. The shadow often creates a disturbance to the image that needs to remove for a good look.

What is the common property of a shadow?

Ans: The most common property of a shadow is darkness. For a Raster image, it damages the beauty or makes the image imperfect. Well, sometimes shadows create a different impression that gives the whole image a great look.

How shadow removal can help an image?

Ans: Unwanted shadow removal restores the image impression to the fullest. With the shadow removal procedure, you can make the image fresh without any distractions.

Which editing method is Shadow Removal related to?

Ans: Shadow Removal is related to the Image Retouching method. We cannot vanish the shadow literally. We can edit it to hide it from the image with the appropriate work of action.

What is the best way to remove the shadow from an image?

Ans: The question is pretty technical and conditional as well. One single method is not always good for many people. Similarly, all the images are not good enough to edit with a specific method. The convenience depends on the image quality and the editors’ efficiency.

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