Add a Drop Shadow to a Layer in After Effects

This tutorial teaches you how to add a drop shadow to a layer in After Effects. You can easily add a drop shadow to text, shapes, solids, videos, and graphics. Here’s how:

Adding a Drop Shadow to a Layer in AE

Right-click the layer (ex: text, solid, shape, video, graphic, etc.) in the Timeline panel. In the menu that appears go to Layer Styles then choose Drop Shadow.

After Effects menu on clip that was right-clicked with Drop Shadow selected
Right-click layer. Go to Layer Styles. Then select Drop Shadow.

A drop shadow is now added to that layer. By default this drop shadow is quite nice IMO. You can absolutely modify it though.

Drop shadow applied to text in Composition panel
The drop shadow is decent, right? A bit small but not aggressive. Change it as needed.

Modify the Drop Shadow’s Properties

In the Timeline panel, the layer you added the Drop Shadow to now has Layer Styles as one of its properties you can edit. Find Drop Shadow under Layer Styles. And here you can change the Blend Mode, Color, Opacity, Angle, Distance, Spread, Size, and more.

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After Effects Timeline panel showing Drop Shadow properties
Mess around with these settings. Each project or even each element may require a different drop shadow.

Click into one of their values and change it to another number. For example if you change Distance from 5.0 to 25.0, the Drop Shadow will move further away from the its source (in this example it’s the text).

AE Composition panel with text with the shadow moved further away than the default
Check out how much can change with the drop shadow with a tiny tweak

Copy and Paste Drop Shadow to Another Layer in AE

If you want to copy and paste the drop shadow from one layer to another in After Effects, select the Drop Shadow property of the layer in the Timeline. Hit Command+C if you’re on a Mac or Control+C if you’re on a Windows company to copy it. Then select the layer you want to paste it to. Use the keyboard shortcut Command+V (Mac) or Control+V (Windows) to paste the drop shadow.

Composition panel with a solid and text layers having the same drop shadow
Copy and paste the drop shadow onto multiple layers to give the same look and feel across your video

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If you’ve read this tutorial and you still can’t figure it out, please leave a comment and I’ll do what I can to help troubleshoot it. But if you can now add a drop shadow in After Effects, I hope you stick around and check out some of the other After Effects tutorials on my website or consider signing up to get notified about new blog posts and happenings around EVF.

– Josh

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