Cool paper shadow tutorial for Adobe Illustrator CS5

illustrator paper with shadow

Have you ever seen those banners, photo holders or images on websites that appear as though they are a piece of paper lifting off the desk or a post-it on the fridge? Ever wondered how to do it in Adobe Illustrator?

In this simple tutorial, you’ll see one way how.

Step 1. Draw your rectangle or square.

Drawing the rectangle

Draw either a square or a rectangle with the Rectangle Tool (m). To draw a square, hold down shift + left click while drawing and drag out. A tip is to make sure it is a square cornered rectangle rather than rounded, it looks much more realistic. Colour the rectangle with a lighter shade. I think white works best, but I do change the colour briefly so it can be seen it on the white Art Board. Change it back once the shadow is created. The edges will be visible at that point.

Step 2. Create your shadow shape.

Shadow shape on the left

The best way to create your shadow shape is to repeat your original shape and just modify the edges. Select your original shape hold down the left mouse button + alt + shift and drag the shape to the left. This will create a replica of the original shape and will also align it perfectly; so that once the shadow has been made you can simply hold down shift while dragging it to the right, and then drop it when you’re back over position of the original shape.

Now we are going to modify the newly created rectangle. Select the shape then Grab the Pen Tool (p) and create an anchor point for each side of the rectangle. This anchor point should be created close to the corner and at the same position for each side. Now, select the Direct Selection Tool (A) and convert each point to a smooth point. Next, grab the extended handle next to each point and curve the edge just so slightly. Bring the handle to the center of each side; making sure the curve is almost even on each side.

Adding anchor points

Modifying the blur shape

Step 3. Add your blur.

The best way to create a blur is to use the Photoshop effect Guasian Blur. Select your latest shape then from the menu bar, select Effect > Blur > Gaussian Blur… Once selected, set the radius to 10.0 pixels and click ok. Now that you have your blur, move it back to the exact position of the original shape. Then right click the shape > arrange > send to back. Now change the colour of the blur shape to black.  That’s it. All done. But if you feel that your shadow isn’t poking out enough, then just perfectly extend the size of the blur shape by selecting it and holding your left mouse button + shift + alt and dragging out. You’ll only need to adjust so slightly and just play around until the shadow feels right.

Applying the blur

Change the colour of the blur shape to black

Have fun playing around with different shapes, angles, colours and positions.

Illustrator CS5 Paper Shadow