Pixelmator Tip #15 – How To Add Long Shadows To Your Flat Designs

Ninja Share:

In this tutorial we show you how to add long shadows to your designs using Pixelmator. Long shadows aren’t something new, and with the release of IOS7, this effect and flat UI design have really taken off.

The Long Shadow Effect

Here is the effect applied to our ninja shape. Now let’s get started.


Step 1

Create a new document 800x600px.


Step 2

Re-name the default layer to “background“, then use one of the many common flat colours out there. We used a fantastic site called Flat UI Colours, which gives you some common flat colours and their HEX or RGB codes. Pick one you want, and fill the background layer with that colour. Remember Flat Icon design is about being minimalist and to this end we will only use a maximum of 3 colours overall.

Next, add in a rounded square shape on a new layer, with a white fill, and centre it on the canvas. Adjust the rounding and scale of the rectangle to your liking.


Step 3

For the shadow on the white square, create a new rectangle shape on a new layer, with a black fill. Use the free transform (CMD + F) to rotate the shape 45 degrees. Then move the shape to look like the shadow as shown below.


Step 4

Once you are happy with the location of the rectangle, change the blending mode of the layer to Multiply, and change the Opacity to 25%. This sleeping aids gives a great shadow effect and absorbs the background colour nicely.


Step 5

Now choose your main shape for your icon, add it to a new layer, and place this layer on top of the white square. The colour of your icon shape should be the same as your chosen background colour. We used our popular ninja shape as our icon.

Next, duplicate the rectangle shadow layer used for the white square, and move this layer under your icon shape. Adjust the size of this shape roughly to the scale of the icon.

Note: we’ve turned off the Multiply and 25% opacity on the new layer to show you the adjustment we need to make.

Step 6

Next we are going to free transform to adjust the endpoints of the icon shadow so that it is aligned to the icon shape.


Step 7

Also adjust the corners of the icon shadow layer that meets the edges of the white square so that the edges of the shapes are aligned.


Step 8

Finally, ensure that the shadow layer blend option is set to Multiply, and the Opacity is set to 25%, and we have created this simple but awesome long shadow effect using Pixelmator.

Make sure to have fun, playing around with text, colours, and shapes and enjoy. We used the crown shape from our movember collection, and the Pinterest icon from our modern social icon shapes template below.

long-shadow-ninja long-shadow-crown long-shadow-pintrest



  • How to free transform to adjust the endpoints of the icon shadow? Can you say it in details?

    LeightonJanuary 24, 2014
    • Hi Leighton, thanks for reaching out. We are putting the final touches on our next tutorial that will show you how to create, edit, and style shapes, and this will show you exactly what you are looking for. Keep an eye out.

      Pixelmator NinjaJanuary 25, 2014
  • @Leighton I had the same question myself and found a way to do it. So if you haven’t had the chance to look into this further, here how I managed to create and adjust endpoints.

    While editing the rectangle shape in Free Transform, you right click (or Ctrl-Click) on the line you want to move and you should see “Add Point”. A red dot appears, you can click and drag it where you want it to go. You can add as many dots as you want along the line. I just roughly dragged the dots under my icon with only being precise at the edges. That did the job! 🙂

    @Ninja Thanks for the cool tutorials and the Flat UI Colours link! Keep it up!

    GiorgioFebruary 20, 2014
  • @Giorgio Many thanks! It works!

    LeightonFebruary 22, 2014
  • March 5, 2014

    […] Pixelmator Tip #15, which shows you how to add long shadows; and finally […]

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