Cover Image

How to Make Badass Shadows

April 16, 2021 - Reading time: 3 minutes

Tips to help create better UI shadows.

Shadows play a huge role in modern user interfaces. They bring depth and hierarchy to organized rectangles.

Based on how you use them, they can bring joy and a feel of elevation to your interface. Here are my tips to help create better shadows with such design tools as Sketch, Figma, or XD.

Tip 1 — Make it Soft

Don’t use default application shadows. Instead, adjust the shadow opacity around 5–25%, and set a higher level of blur.

Bonus Tip:

You can also perform this trick with CSS. Here is a great material showcasing many use cases of applying multiple shadows within a single property.

Tip 3—Don’t use pure black

Avoid using #000 for shadows. To make the shadow look more realistic — pick a color based on the element background or its surroundings.

Tip 4—Use a separate layer as a shadow

For a more decorative purpose. You can duplicate the layer and put it beneath the original to emit a more natural-looking shadow.

Add a smaller layer with a maxed blur behind your fore element.

Tip 5— Add depth

Position your shadows based on the light source to emit their direction. Lower the fore layer’s opacity and add a slight border for more depth vibes.

Tip 6— Make it crisp

Add a 2-step gradient stroke/border to highlight the shadow and make it crispy.

Tip 7 — Blur images background

Put a blurred image behind another to radiate a more natural colored shadow and match it with the image.

Tip 8—Handy tools


  • — Generate Soft-UI CSS code
  •—Make a smooth shadow visually and copy the code
  •—Generate neumorphic styles
  •—Neumorphic playground