The ONLY Times to Use Drop Shadows
This is going to be a quick post because the short answer is to this question is don’t use them at all. Drop shadows aren’t cool anymore and they make your work look super dated. Some of you may be rolling your eyes and don’t believe me, but I swear. You can google it. I am not the only one writing about how your typical drop shadows are totally out.
Don’t worry though - you read my blog so I can keep you up-to-date on design trends. So keep reading so you're not the last to know about the dying drop shadow - RIP.
When I talk about drop shadows, I mean the faded, dark shapes behind text and images that are feathered at the ends. They create a 3D effect as if it is floating and popping out at you. I think people often use them to make their graphic look more “designed,” given that the shadow usually doesn’t ever seem to offer any real purpose. With that being said, I am here to tell you all that less is more! Flat, minimalist design is very in and modern right now - so that cheesy drop shadow makes your design feel dated and old.
There are a few times where drop shadows can used properly however. They are as follows:
Very Subtle Drop Shadows
When the shadow is used in a subtle way it can act as a means of differentiating the text from the background, making it easier to read by giving it more contrast. It can also be used to add a slight glow to the image. As long as the shadows are not harsh and creating a floating effect, it can be used effectively. As long as the shadow has an actual purpose, it won’t stand out and look cheesy.
Hard Edge Drop Shadows
Sometimes using the solid, hard edge shadow behind text can give it a cool retro vibe. This is especially true if the hard edge shadow is separated from the text slightly as well. These too however, can easily cross the line into cheese-land, so be careful and use it sparingly! It's great for using it with important words or images that you want to draw more attention to.
Long Drop Shadows
The long shadows are a newer design trend that perfectly accompanies the flat icon, minimalist look as well. These long shadows give the icons movement and add an interesting, yet simple design element that doesn’t distract from the main image.
As you can see, there are ways to take drop shadows to a new modern level and use them to benefit your design. It shouldn’t be hard to see how much older and outdated the regular drop shadow looks in comparison to the examples above, not to mention how much regular drop shadows can distract from the original image instead of enhancing it. So let's all together, take an oath to stop using classic drop shadows once and for all! If we each do our part, one by one we will make the internet a prettier place. ;)