Create Long Shadows in Adobe Illustrator

Long shadows are all the range amongst designers these days. In this video I show you how to quickly and easily create long shadows in Adobe Illustrator using Live Effects that can easily be saved as graphic styles and applied to any piece of artwork that you create.

Step 1

Select the graphic that you wish to apply the long shadow effect to on your artboard.

Step 2

Go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform


Step 3

In the Transform Dialog Box you want to adjust the move parameters as shown in the photo below. I usually use a value of .5px for both the horizontal and vertical movement, but you can choose any number that is less than 1.0. Basically you’re trying to keep the nudging to a minimum here to avoid an obviously jagged edge from the repeated objects.

Set the number of copies to a large number (between 300-400 usually works). You want the shadow to fall completely off the artboard to ensure the effect looks correct when you’re finished. Play around with this number until you get it just right.

Screen Shot 2013-10-23 at 3.02.07 PM

Step 4

Click OK.

Step 5

Change the color of the object to the exact same color as your background element and in the Transparency Panel set the Blend Mode to Multiply and the Opacity to 40-50%. This will make the shadow look a bit more natural and blend with the overall look of your design.


Step 6

Copy your artwork (CTRL + C) and paste a copy of it in front (CTRL + F).

Step 7

Go to the Appearance Panel and remove the Transform effect from the copied artwork.


Step 8

Change the blend mode of the copy back to Normal and set the Opacity to 100%. Then change the color of the artwork back to the color you started with (mine was white).

Optional Steps

From here you’re pretty much done, but you can finish it off by either trimming the excess shadow pieces with the Shape Builder Tool or by adding a clipping mask. If you’re saving this file for web output, don’t worry about these steps because you can just clip the artwork to the artboard in the save for web dialog box.

You may also want to save the appearance of this shadow as a graphic style as well, so you can use it on other projects going forward. I have a tutorial on how to save graphic styles just in case you’ve never done it before. That’s it… Happy designing!

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