How To Add A Drop Shadow In Canva (To Anything!)

Adding a drop shadow to an element is a great way to add depth and create a more dynamic design. You can add a drop shadow in Canva to an image or text with just a few clicks. 

Almost anyone can fool around with Canva for a few hours and add a basic drop shadow to an image or text box. This post will show you how to go beyond the basics when adding drop shadows. 

You’ll understand how to use all of the different settings available and how to add drop shadows to the toughest of shapes. By the end of this tutorial, you will know how to add a drop shadow in Canva to any element. 

How To Add A Drop Shadow To Images In Canva

Adding a drop shadow to an image is simple. The more times you do it, the easier it gets. Eventually, you’ll add a drop shadow to an image with ease. 

Step 1: Select Your Element 

Before you add a drop shadow to any element, you first need to select it. 

Click on your image to select it. A purple bounding box around the image will indicate that you successfully selected it. 

Step 2: Click On Edit Image 

Once you’ve selected your image, click the Edit Image button at the top left corner of the options bar. 

Step 3: Add A Drop Effect 

Once you click the Edit Image button, you will see an assortment of filters and options. Scroll down to the Shadows section. Click on Drop

If you don’t see Drop right away, click the See All button across from Shadows, and you will find Drop there.  

After clicking Drop, a basic drop shadow will be added to your image. 

Step 4: Adjust The Settings 

The basic drop shadow may be all you need for your image. Most likely, however, you will want to adjust the settings of your drop shadow. 

After clicking on Drop the first time, you may have noticed the icon that looks like three levers. This indicates that if you click the button again, the settings for the Drop effect will open up. 

Click the Drop button again to open the Drop settings. 

The first setting you can adjust is the direction of the drop shadow. Open up the drop-down menu at the top of the settings panel to find every available direction for your drop shadow. 

With the Offset setting, you can adjust the size of the drop shadow with the slider. Slide this setting to the left to bring the drop shadow closer to the element (making it smaller). Slide it toward the right to send the drop shadow farther away from the element (making it bigger). 

You can use the Angle option to skew your drop shadow off the element. If you’re making a realistic design, you’ll want to avoid this slider. This option might come in handy if you’re making something artistic that bends the rules. 

Adjusting the Transparency of the Drop shadow will determine how see-through your drop shadow will be. 

Adjusting the slider all the way to the left will make the drop shadow invisible. Adjusting the slider all the way to the right will make the shadow the darkest it can be. 

When using a drop shadow, you often want the transparency to be somewhere in the middle. This all depends on your project, of course. 

To make your drop shadow look more realistic, add blur to it with the Blur slider. This will take the hard edge off your drop shadow if that’s a problem. 

If you want to, you can also change the color of your drop shadow with the Color Picker. Most elements will need a black drop shadow to stay realistic. However, if your background is black or a darker color, you may want to change the color of the shadow to make the element pop out more. 

Step 5: Click The Apply Button

Once you’ve finished adjusting your settings, click on Apply to confirm. 

You now have a drop shadow applied to your image. 

How to Add A Drop Shadow To Text In Canva

Adding and adjusting a drop shadow to text is similar to an image. The biggest difference is where you find the drop shadow effect. 

Step 1: Select Your Text

Click on your text block to select it. 

Step 2: Add The Shadow Effect 

After you select your text, click on the Effects button in the options bar. 

Select the Shadow effect in the list of effects that open in the sidebar. 

Step 3: Adjust The Settings

Adjusting the settings for the Shadow effect is similar to changing the Drop effect. 

Click the Shadow button again to open up the settings. The settings for the Shadow effect may seem the same, but there are some key differences regarding the text. 

Adjusting the Offset slider will change the size of the drop shadow, just like with an image. However, because the text will typically be smaller with random curves and contours, you will likely have to add a good amount of Offset to see the shadow. 

You can do this by moving the Offset slider toward the right. 

The Direction slider acts like the Angle slider for the drop effect. Adjust the direction of your drop shadow to fit where your light source is. 

The Blur slider will add or decrease the sharp edges of the Shadow effect. Due to the size of most text, this blur effect may have little impact on the shadow’s edge. 

The Transparency slider will determine your drop shadow’s transparency under your text. This slider will depend on the project you’re working on. 

Like with the Drop effect, the Shadow effect will let you choose a different color for your drop shadow with the Color Picker

Step 4: Confirm Your Effect 

Once you’ve finished adjusting the settings of your drop shadow, you just need to confirm the changes you made. 

To do this with text, simply click anywhere on your canvas outside of your text. 

How To Add A Drop Shadow To Shapes & Graphics In Canva

Adding a drop shadow to a shape or a graphic is very different than with an image or text. Shapes and graphics don’t have an Effects button or an Edit Image button. 

You will need to perform a workaround to add a drop shadow to these elements. You can use two workarounds—one for basic shapes and another for more complicated ones. 

Basic Shapes  

Use this method to add a drop shadow to the shapes you can find in the Elements section of Canva or any shape or graphic with few edges or curves. 

Step 1: Duplicate Your Shape

Your drop shadow at the end of this method will be a duplicated version of your basic shape. 

You can quickly duplicate your shape by selecting it, then clicking the Duplicate button in the Mini Options Bar above the shape. 

An exact duplicate of your shape will be added on top of, or near, your shape. 

Step 2: Change The Duplicate Shape’s Color 

Now that you have a duplicate of your shape, you need to make it look like a shadow. You can do this by changing its color. 

To do this, select the duplicated shape, then click the Color Picker in the Options Bar. Click on the color black or the color you need your shadow to be for your project. 

Step 3: Send The Duplicate Shape Backward

A shadow is not much of a shadow if it’s in front of the original shape.

To fix this, select the shape you just changed the color for. Then, click the Position button, and select Backward

This is now your shadow layer. 

Step 4: Line Up Your Shadow Layer 

Now that your shadow layer is the right color, you just need to select it, then move it behind the original shape or graphic at the angle you wish it to be. 

Step 5: Adjust The Transparency Of The Shadow Layer 

Your shadow is now the correct color and in the proper position. From here, you can change the transparency. 

To make things easier, click on the original shape, then click the Lock button in the upper right corner. This will make it easier to select the shadow layer. 

To adjust the transparency of your shadow layer, first select it, then click the Transparency button. Use the transparency slider to change how much you see of the shadow layer. 

Unfortunately, you won’t be able to blur the shadow layer. You will have to leave the shadow with a hard edge.

Adding Shadows To Complicated Shapes 

With more complicated shapes, you must convert the shape into an image and then add and adjust the drop shadow. 

Step 1: Duplicate The Page Your Complicated Shape Is On

You first need to duplicate your page to make it easier to convert your shape into an image. You can do this by clicking the Duplicate Page button above your page. 

This will make an exact duplicate of the page you’re working on. 

Step 2: Isolate Your Shape 

On your duplicated page, delete every element except the shape to which you want to add a drop shadow. 

After you delete all the other elements, you can click on it to ensure that the shape wasn’t also deleted. 

Step 3: Download Your Element As A PNG

Once you have isolated your shape, click on the Share button. 

In the options that drop-down: 

  • Make sure PNG is selected under File Type
  • Check on Transparent Background
  • Double-check that the page your shape is on is under Select Pages. 

Once you’re ready, click Download

Your image has now been downloaded to your hard drive

Step 4: Add Your Downloaded PNG To The Original Page 

Go back to your original page and delete the original complicated shape. Then, drag your newly downloaded PNG to your project. 

To resize the PNG, line it up toward the corner of the page, then use the opposite corner handle to fill the entire canvas. 

Step 5: Adjust The Crop Handles

This part is crucial, so don’t skip this step. Before you add your drop shadow, adjust all four crop handles on the image

Drag the crop handles away from the edge of the Canvas. If you don’t do this, the image will shrink and move when you apply the drop shadow. 

Step 6: Add And Adjust The Drop Effect 

Now that your complicated shape is an image and that image has been cropped correctly, you can add your Drop effect exactly as described at the beginning of this article. 

First, select the image, click Edit Image, and then click Drop. Click Drop again to adjust the settings. 

Click Apply to finish your drop shadow effect.  

Article By

Brendan Williams

Hey, I'm Brendan! I'm a professional photographer and photo retoucher who has spent the majority of his career shooting or retouching outdoor lifestyle and social media campaigns for brands like G-Adventures, xoxo Bella, P&G, Fitbit, Chevy, Tourism California, and more. These days I primarily focus my efforts on this site, creating guides and tutorials that I wish I had earlier in my career. Each week I publish new tutorials on Photography, Photoshop, Lightroom, and Canva to help you unlock new skills and bring your creativity to new levels! Everything you learn here is backed by real experience, so you can finally skip the fluff and focus only on what matters.

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