I'm shooting singular objects in studio and would like to save them isolated with their shadow information and a transparent background as a png.

Is there a tutorial someone could point me to to do this?

Thank you in advance!

  • \$\begingroup\$ PNG is almost always the wrong format for photographs. Could you explain why you need this as a PNG? \$\endgroup\$
    – Philip Kendall
    Apr 3, 2018 at 17:42
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ jpeg doesn't do transparancy, .psd is application-specific and tiff is bulky? \$\endgroup\$
    – remco
    Apr 3, 2018 at 18:26
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ I not believe is a wrong format. It is quite useful. It is a specific type of delivery format. \$\endgroup\$
    – Rafael
    Apr 3, 2018 at 19:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ @PhilipKendall I need to deliver png to designers so they can add their own background. \$\endgroup\$
    – kphotog
    Apr 3, 2018 at 22:05

1 Answer 1



I come from a 3D rendering background besides photography. So I am used to think as separated layers. My approach would be:

  • Cut the object in one image without the shadow.

  • Depending on the background, using all the image with shadow as a separate layer. Probably convert it to grayscale if the background is not neutral white.

We can go several ways for the shadows.

  1. Using this grayscale image with a blending mode multiply and using it below the object layer. This is faster but only if you work with a layered method.

enter image description here

  1. Using this image as a transparency mask for a total black layer. You need to invert the image. This second option is the one that can give you a single PNG with shadows included.

enter image description here

You can play with the levels of this mask and the curves, to adjust the intensity of the shadow and to clean the background.

You probably need to paint a bit on the borders of this mask so it does not show behind the clipped object.

enter image description here

An additional explanation for The comment about the mask.

  1. Open your image, and make it a new layer.

  2. Add a layer mask

  3. Alt+click on it, and paste the image again inside. You have now a transparent image based on the information on the image. But the information is backwards, you need to invert it in order to work.

Apply this method to a black plate as described in the steps above.

enter image description here

Your shadow layer should look like this: enter image description here

I have not masked the red dot layer, I only did the shadow part.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I am struggling with Rafael's answer as there are some steps I am not familiar with. Particularly using the inverted image as a mask for the solid layer. This seems to not be working for me. \$\endgroup\$ May 13, 2021 at 11:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Lewis Logan, I added some steps at the end of the post for you. \$\endgroup\$
    – Rafael
    May 14, 2021 at 16:06

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