How to Remove Shadows in Photoshop (3 Effortless Ways)

If you want to take good pictures, you need to choose a well-lit angle with good surroundings. Otherwise, problems related to shadows are very likely to occur. If that’s the case, the photograph will look quite dark and lifeless.

But don’t worry, this issue is easy to fix with a professional photo editing software like Adobe Photoshop. This application provides many features and tools to enhance your photos, including removing shadows.

This article will teach you how to remove shadows in Photoshop, making your work more impressive.

Method #1: How to Remove Shadows in Photoshop Using the Patch Tool

The Patch Tool is one of our favorite approaches because it gives you more control over the whole process.

In other words, you can inform the application which areas of the picture you want to use to replace unwanted parts. As a result

, Photoshop won’t pick pixels at random.

Using the Patch Tool
Using the Patch Tool

Duplicate the Background Layers

Remember to duplicate layers every time you make some changes. So you can ensure that the original file is preserved. You can always go back to the original file and start over if something is wrong.

Although you can use the History Palette to undo actions, it’ll become a nightmare if you’ve used hundreds of strokes and want to go back.

If you don’t know how to duplicate layers, below are three quick ways you can follow:

  • Drag the layer you want to duplicate to the ‘Create a new layer’ button.

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  • Find the option ‘Duplicate Layer.’.. in the Layers menu.

  • Press Ctrl + J (or Cmd + J if you’re on a Mac).

You’ll see a dialog box that asks you to name the new layer. Otherwise, it’ll be called by the default name, which is the original’s name plus the word ‘clone’.

Select the Patch Tool

On the left toolbar, select the Patch Tool.

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Then, look at the top toolbar, choose the ‘Content-Aware’ option in the ‘Patch’ drop-down menu.

This is necessary if you want Photoshop to help you create new pixels. That’s how to get rid of shadow in a picture as accurately and smoothly as possible.

Remove the Shadows

First, you need to activate the ‘Content Awareness Patch’ by drawing an area around the shadows.

Remove the Shadows
Remove the Shadows

Next, hold-click the selected area and move the cursor to the part of the image where you want to replace it.

It sounds a bit confusing at first. But you’ll get used to it very soon. As you move the cursor, you’ll see the selected pixels match the part they will be copied to.

After you release the mouse button, Photoshop will merge the edges. If you don’t like the results, you can adjust the Structure and Color settings in the top toolbar below the menu bar. Feel free to experiment with them to find out the best option.

Method #2: How to Remove Shadows in Photoshop Using Healing Brush Tool and Clone Stamp Tool

In most cases, when a photographer has to erase something while editing an image, they’ll use the Healing Brush or the Clone Stamp Tool.

These tools come in handy when you need to remove an element from a photo entirely. Therefore, they are definitely helpful when getting rid of shadows in Photoshop.

How to Remove Shadows in Photoshop Using Healing Brush Tool and Clone Stamp Tool

Duplicate the Background Layers

We’ve already mentioned this in Method #1. Please scroll up and re-read it if you’ve skipped it.

Select the Clone Stamp Tool

On the left toolbar, select ‘Clone Stamp Tool’. A brush will appear.

Adjust the size of the brush if necessary. And if you want to get smooth edges, you need to reduce the hardness level.

The quickest way to adjust the size of the brush is to press the open bracket key or closed bracket key on your keyboard to decrease or increase the size, respectively.

Choose a Source Pixels

After that, you need to select the pixels that will be used to remove the shadow from the image. Inspect it to find a suitable area and move the cursor there.

Choose a Source Pixels

In our case, we needed to click on the area with water. Press the ‘Alt’ key to confirm the selected source pixels. The cursor then will turn into a crosshair.

Remove the Shadows

To remove shadows in Photoshop more precisely, you need to zoom in on the image. After that, start painting over the shadows you want to remove. For a better result, use various source pixels to paint.

If it doesn’t look realistic, undo and get other source pixels, specifically, pixels from another area of the image. And then try again.

If you need to go back several steps, use the Undo feature by pressing Cmd + Z for MacOS and Ctrl + Z for Windows. Sometimes, you need to try different ‘Opacity’ values to see which works better in each case.

Fine-tune the Results with the Healing Brush Tool

Remember to avoid repeating patterns. These are the most obvious signs that something has been copied and removed from an image.

Fine-tune the Results with the Healing Brush Tool

Another tool to help you complete the process of removing shadows from a photo in Photoshop is the Healing Brush Tool.

It functions similar to the Clone Stamp Tool, sampling pixels from the required area. But the Healing Brush works more precisely as it makes the copied pixels identical to the new part of the photo in terms of texture and lighting.

Method #3: How to Remove Shadows in Photoshop Using an Adjustment Layer

Here’s another quick and effective way to get rid of shadows in Photoshop.

Using an Adjustment Layer

Duplicate the Background Layers

We’ve already mentioned this in Method #1. Please scroll up and re-read it if you’ve skipped it.

Use the Magic Wand Tool

On the left toolbar, select the Magic Wand Tool. Then, click on the shadows.

If you cannot select all the shadows, increase the Tolerance value and vice versa. After that, re-click the shadows to create a new selection. You can also use the Quick Selection Tool or Lasso tool to do the same.

Create a New Adjustment Layer

Go to ‘Layer’ → ‘New Adjustment Layer’. After that, select the ‘Brightness/Contrast…’ option.

Decrease the Brightness

You need the shadow brightness level to match the rest of the photo. Therefore, move the ‘Brightness’ slider to the right. This will make the shadow become brighter.

Decrease the Brightness

Move the slider to the left if you want to achieve the opposite effect.

How to Avoid Unwanted Shadows When Shooting

Instead of learning how to fix shadows in Photoshop, you should avoid this problem in the first place.

The art of exposure is one of the most essential elements of photography. Doing this isn’t easy because you don’t always have control over the lighting in the photo. However, you can try a few tips below:

  • When taking photos with your phone, turn on Auto HDR mode. This will help reduce contrast and shadows when necessary.
  • Some mirrorless and DSLR cameras also have an HDR mode. If yours doesn’t have one, try the Exposure Bracketing option instead. This action takes three different photos at various exposures. Therefore, you can choose the best composition (or merge them in Photoshop).
  • It’s best to turn the flash off, so you can control the light’s direction whenever possible. The flash mounted on the camera will cast unwanted shadows and glares on the subject.
  • When you have to use a flash, keep a white sheet of paper or card underneath or next to it. This will reduce the intensity of light hitting the ceiling or wall for a flattering effect. Also, hold a white tissue in front of the flash to diffuse the light, making it softer.
  • When capturing faces in intense sunlight, keep a piece of white cardboard or paper tilted toward the subject to reflect the light and soften shadows.

Final Words

In this article, we have shown you how to remove shadows in Photoshop. This application has many tools that help you reduce or replace shadows in an image. Therefore, you can quickly edit shadows on someone’s face or from a background.

Always try different techniques to find out which works best for particular situations. Remember that there is no one-size-fits-all approach.

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