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Removing Shadows in Photoshop: The Simplest Guide

January 01

15 min. to read

Photographs of objects that have been exposed to harsh light are always accompanied by harsh shadows, which in some cases simply spoil the aesthetic perception of the image. Fortunately, there are built-in functions in Photoshop that are aimed at eliminating such aesthetic defects.

Familiar with the recommendations, on how to remove the shadow in Photoshop, even an inexperienced graphic designer will be able to immediately implement everything practically. But figuring out how to edit shadows in Photoshop with all the many tools available is difficult, especially for the novice user. Is it better to do it with the Dodge Tool, and create new pixels? Or there is no need for Photoshop at all?

It is straightforward to perform such a task if the shadow of the object does not completely cover the plane on which it falls. In our tutorial, we'll show you several methods of how to remove shadows in Photoshop!

Different Ways of Removing Shadows in Photoshop

Adobe Photoshop contains many tools that can be manipulated in a clever way to successfully correct images. In the process of performing such actions, it is not difficult to eliminate not only the shadows but also, if necessary, individual objects that degrade the quality of the image itself.

Experienced graphic designers suggest using the recommendations, on how to make the shadow in Photoshop invisible. There are some options for solving such a graphic problem.

How to Remove Shadows in Photoshop by Clone Stamp Tool

The Stamp tool in Photoshop allows you to clone a source in one area and immediately transfer it to another. Given such possibilities, some designers often use Stamp if there is a need to remove an object's shadow. First, you should open the photo for editing in a graphical editor, then zoom in to improve the visual preview of the part of the photo where the blackout is located.

Next, you select the stamp on the toolbar and make the necessary changes to its settings. When the shape and hardness settings are selected, you can proceed directly to shadow removal. To do this, press the Alt key and click with the left mouse button on the place that is at the minimum distance from the shadow. Thus, it will be possible to copy this area with the help of a stamp. Now, by pressing the left mouse button, it will be easy to "paint" the whole shadow.

Applying the "Stamp" tool, it is really not difficult to delete the blackout. However, such actions are not always very effective. In particular, very often the transitions on the image remain quite noticeable, and the process of removing the shadow area can be lengthy, so it's better to use alternative and more effective methods.

An Alternative Method to How to Get Rid of Shadows In Photoshop

It is not at all difficult to figure out an alternative algorithm to make the shadow invisible. Initially, you should also open the photo, zooming in immediately.

Next, it is very important to select the shadow that you want to remove from the object completely. This is easy enough to do with the tool "Magic Wand". After successful selection, it is important to find the "Image" parameter, then go first to "Correction" and then to the sub-item "Level brightness", which is the last in the drop-down list.

After selecting this option, a pop-up window will appear with the "Align only selected area" line next to it and a checkmark should be added. Immediately after performing these quite simple actions, the brightness of the darkening will change, but will still be significantly different from the main plane.

In order to remove the darkening, and make it invisible, it is necessary to undo the parameters of brightness, color saturation, and contrast.

Using Photoshop, you can choose the "Fill with Content" function, which will almost instantly remove any shadows. However, it should be noted that, unfortunately, this feature is only available in new versions of the program, so experienced designers always monitor the appearance of updates and download them in a timely manner.

Initially, it is also necessary to select with the help of the tool "Magic Wand" the darkening, then in the drop-down list "Edit" to find the parameter "Perform Fill". Clicking on this parameter will open a window in which you should select the item "Considering the content" and the mode "Fade in". After these actions, you will be able to delete the unwanted shadow.

Another Method How to Fix Shadows on Faces in Photoshop

Most often the shadow problems are caused by improperly set light and the shadow falls on the model's face. We will tell you how to remove the shadow from the face in Photoshop.

  • First, create a copy of the background layer (CTRL+J). Then go to the "Image - Correction - Shadows/Lights" menu.
  • In the settings window, by moving the sliders to the left, we achieve the manifestation of details hidden in the shadows.
  • In the settings window that opens, bend the curve towards lightning until the desired effect is achieved.
  • The lighting effect should be left on the face only. Press the D key, reset the colors to the default settings, and press the CTRL+DEL key combination, filling the mask of the curve layer with black color.
  • Then, take a white brush and paint on the mask the areas that need to be further lightened.

Using this method you can easily remove shadows from a face in Photoshop.

Frequency Decomposition Method

The frequency decomposition method is also used to remove shadows:

  • Decompose the image into two frequencies with such a radius that the background texture is preserved as much as possible. Move the group of frequency decomposition adjustment layers to the group with the background mask.
  • On the empty layer (above the layer with a low frequency), adjust the shadow color, drawing over the shadow with the corresponding background color. The brush diameter settings should be Hardness/ Hardness = 0% (soft brush), Opacity/ Opacity = 100%, and Flow/ Pressure = about 10%.
  • Since the shadows have almost no distinct texture, they should be restored. To do this, on the copy of the texture layer, use the Lasso Tool/ Lasso to select the part that will be copied to the corrected area. After that, make a copy of the quick selection on a new layer (CTRL+J/ CMD+J).
  • Move the created copy to the area where you want to replace the texture.
  • Now create another copy of the texture layer and move it to the desired location. After that, make a clipping mask of it.
  • Repeat the actions of copying and replacing the texture in other areas. If repetitive elements appear, gently tweak them on the corresponding layer with a stamp.

This way, all the shadows will be removed without damaging the texture. Note, however, that the photo may look unnatural after the shadow is completely removed.

How to Fix Shadows in Photoshop With Blending Mode

This technique uses two very useful Photoshop features combined to solve the shadow problem in the image below. One is the RGB selection using channels, and the other is the screen blend mode.

  • Select the wanted image and open it in the app. Since the image will open as a background layer, navigate to the layer and choose "Duplicate Layer" to create a new layer.
  • With the duplicate layer selected, select the "Channels" panel on the right. If you don't see the panel, go to the Window menu and make sure that the box next to Channels is checked.
  • Press and hold CTRL (Windows) / CMD (Mac) and click RGB to select areas of the image based on brightness. This is a very useful feature as it highlights the bright areas of your image. 
  • As in this image, we need to select the dark areas of the image. We invert the selection. You can do this by pressing CTRL + SHIFT + I (Windows) or CMD + SHIFT + I (Mac). Alternatively, you can go to the "Select" menu on the top menu bar and select "Invert". This step actually selects the area of the shadow you want to work on.
  • Press CTRL (Windows) / CMD (Mac) + J shortcut keys to duplicate the layer and create a second duplicate layer. It will form a separate layer of selected dark areas, ensuring that any effects you apply will only affect the shadow.
  • Select the Blend Mode to Screen. Screen mode makes the dark areas brighter as soon as you select it.
  • This will largely solve your problem. You can see how accurately Photoshop blends the layers, resulting in a significant difference between the before and after views. However, if you still see some dark areas that need extra brightness, use the Brush tool for that.
  • Create a negative mask by pressing and holding the ALT (Windows) / Option (Windows) key and clicking the "Create Mask" icon at the bottom of the Layers panel.
  • Select the Brush tool.

Make sure that the foreground color is set to white, and then paint over the dark areas with the brush. This will further reduce the shadow to lighten the affected areas. Such a method can answer the question: “How to get rid of a shadow in Photoshop”.

Easy Alternative Way of Removing Shadows in Luminar Neo

Photoshop is not the only application that can easily remove unwanted shadows from a photo, and Luminar Neo can be a great alternative! 

  • As with the other methods we've described, open the image in a new workspace.
  • Find Dodge and Burn in the Professional Tab and click on it;
  • You will see three tools: Darken, Lightnen, and Erase. The first helps make the area darker, the second helps make it lighter, and the third will remove the area.
  • Click on the Lightnen and run the brush over the area you want to lighten.
  • If the area is too light, you can easily adjust this with Amount.
  • You can easily see the before and after photos by clicking on the eye icon on the Dodge and Burn panel.

Once the shaded area has been replaced with a lightened area, you can use the healing brush to clean up any mess and further remove the shadows. As a general rule, a dot repair brush helps to improve blending so that viewers can't notice the changes, even if they zoom in. 


So, I told you how to reduce shadows in Photoshop in several ways. Now you know how you can do it without problems, and even in different ways! What are you waiting for? Try these methods to get real photographic masterpieces!

Removing Shadows in Photoshop: The Simplest Guide | Skylum How-to(2)

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Written by

Yehor Mishchenko

Freelance photographer

Yehor Mishchenko is a freelance photographer who specializes in artwork. His sources of inspiration are books by Howard Lovecraft and paintings by Hieronymus Bosch, so he is well-versed in surrealistic photography. He likes to show objects in an unfamiliar way and has excelled at it. Yegor also enjoys film photography and movies from the 1990s, from which he draws inspiration. He became interested in photography at university and now successfully combines his love for it with his main profession.

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Removing Shadows in Photoshop: The Simplest Guide | Skylum How-to(14)