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Quick Tip: How to Render a Shadow Pass in Cycles


Learn to render out a shadow pass in cycles to integrate 3D renders with 2D images!

 Download Scene Photo

What You'll Learn:

  • How to Properly Break your Scene into Seperate Render Layers
  • How to Composite a Shadow Pass onto a 2D Image
  • How to Use the “Box Mask” Node to Mask out Elements in the Compositor

Here is my finished result of the tutorial!
Cycles Shadow Pass Render


Hi everyone! I was looking at some old After Effects work that I did, and came across a photo that I had added “3D” text onto with a fake shadow. I decided to recreate the effect in Blender with cycles, and decided to create a quick tutorial!

In this quick tip, we’ll go over how to break apart your scene into separate render layers so that we can properly composite the shadow pass onto the 2D image. We’ll also go over using the “Box Mask” node to mask out areas of a render that we want to remove. In the end we’ll composite the shadow pass, and then the 3D text onto the 2D image.

Once you’re finished, go check out some more tutorials on the site!

Happy Blending!

PS. Post your finished results in the comments below once you’re finished, I’d love to see what you all create!




  1. July 11, 2013  6:01 am by Ian Reply

    Looks cool. Thanks for your hard work!

  2. July 11, 2013  6:19 am by brothermechanic Reply

    Try this

  3. July 11, 2013  10:20 am by Sean McClure Reply

    quick question, I'm using blender v2.66.1 and I cannot find where to add the world HDRI maps, any ideas?

  4. July 15, 2013  1:27 pm by Samuel Terrero Reply

    I'm new in blender and if somebody can guide me ho to do some 3d text in it will be appreciate..Thanks

  5. July 25, 2013  1:28 am by kednar Reply

    Thanks for the tips!! I tried it out and works very nicely. Im my case, the shadow area was not squared, so I masked manually the area and it worked the same way.
    Cheers :)

  6. July 26, 2013  7:09 am by Gil Reply

    Great Tutorial. Could you please show us if possible, how to render out a shadow pass in cycles to integrate 2D images(like plants or different accessories)into a 3D scene ?
    Thanks! :-)

  7. Pingback : Quick Tip: How to Render a Shadow Pass in Cycles | gpurendernews

  8. August 22, 2013  11:06 pm by Karl Reply

    Good tutorials. Thank you.
    Can you please make a small tutorials how to make one glass top for my table in Blender Cycle.
    I forgeth how to put good reflecting surface. Default: Roughness: 0.0010 and IOR 1.300 dont work for me.
    Thanks in advance.

  9. August 30, 2013  7:56 am by mv raghavendra Reply

    please do a 3D camera tracking tutorial with shadow

    • August 31, 2013  10:59 pm by Tom Latvys Reply

      I'm hoping to do a 3D camera tracking tutorial in the near future!

  10. February 11, 2014  9:38 am by serviteur Reply

    Thanks for this goods tutoriel.
    How Learn to render out a shadow pass in Yafaray 0.1.5 ?

  11. Pingback : Build a Better Shadow Pass – Blender Cycles (Transparent Shadows) | Rendered Smoothie

  12. July 6, 2014  6:47 pm by Yannick Tremblay Reply

    Hi, thanks for the tutorial.
    After trying from scratch several times with your instructions, I still don't have anything in my shadow layer. When my floor mesh is on the same layer as the text, it receives the shadow from the text but when I move it to the second layer, nothing appears. No floor, no shadow. Any idea?
    (I use v2.70)

    Thank you

  13. September 30, 2014  7:02 am by Lo Rinos Reply

    Hey .. This tutorial is great. I'm new to blender and just follow this video. BTW, how do you composite if the lighting is not from sun but a plane with emission? I can't figure it out.

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