This is a tutorial on creating a shadow that will sit under an object to give a subtle raised effect. The final shadow will look like this:

Final Image

Step 1: Setting the Scene

First, add the item that you want your shadow to sit under to the scene. For this example, I have chosen one of the built in shapes from the Custom Shape Tool.

Step 1

Step 2: Shadow Layer

Next, create a new layer and name it "shadow". Ensure this layer is above the scene object that was created in step 1.

Next, choose the Elliptical Marquee Tool and draw a circle selection around the scene object. Use the shift key to keep the circle dimensions even.

For now do not worry about the width of the circle, we will alter this later.

Step 2

Step 3: Shadow Gradient

Pick the Gradient Tool and select the Radial Gradient option from the top bar.

Set the gradient from black to transparent.

Draw a gradient from the centre of the circle to the outer edge. Use the shift key to ensure the gradient is straight.

Step 3

Step 4: Shadow Size

Deselect the current selection (Select > Deselect, or Ctrl/Cmd + D).

Now free transform the "shadow" layer (Edit > Free Transform, or Ctrl/Cmd + T).

Use the top handle to crush the shadow layer as shown in the following screenshot. At this point you may want to use the left/right handles to make the shadow wider.

Tip: Hold shift and drag the left handle, this will automatically adjust the right to match.

Step 4

Step 5: Shadow Placement

With the layer still in free transform mode, drag the layer (a black arrow is displayed when hovering the centre) down below the scene object to the desired location.

Now click the tick icon, highlighted below, to accept the transformation.

Step 5

Step 6: Finalise

Finally, use the highlighted menu item found above the layers panel to set the opacity of the "shadow" layer to 30%.

Step 6

If you would like to download the PSD file for this tutorial, please find it here.