A photo of a skateboarder at a skate park with shadows removed.


How to remove shadows in Adobe Photoshop.

Get rid of unwanted shade or darkness with a variety of tools.

Tools for removing unwanted shadows.

With Photoshop, you can control the depth and texture of your work by decreasing or removing shadows in several ways.

A photo with a shadowy area that has been patched with light.

Patch shadowy areas with light.

Use the Patch tool and AI-powered Content-Aware Fill to automatically fill a selected area with a non-shadowed texture or pattern. 

A photo with modified brightness and temperature.

Modify brightness and temperature settings.

Sometimes you don’t need to fully remove a shadow, but rather lighten it up a bit. Use quick selection tools and brightness, opacity, and temperature settings to make harsh shadows gentler.

Clone Stamp tool and Healing brush used to replace shadows in a photo.

Clone and cover.

Go freeform with the modifications to your photo. Use the Clone Stamp tool or the Healing Brush to capture the areas of your canvas you want to clone or smooth over, and then paint with the tool like a brush, replacing pesky shadows with the clone source.

A photo with dark spots that has been brightened up using the Dodge tool.

Dodge the darkness.

The Dodge tool looks like a lollipop (a carryover symbol from the days of darkroom photography) in the toolbar, and it can provide a sweet assist when you’re trying to brighten up dark spots. Use it to remove areas that are a bit too shadowy.

How to remove a shadow with the Patch tool.

Follow these step-by-step instructions to use the power of AI to do shadow removal. Make sure to select Content-Aware in the top menu to enable the AI before you begin.

1. Duplicate it.

To ensure that you can easily make edits and undo them without affecting the original image, create a duplicate layer. In the Layers panel, select the background layer and choose Layer › Duplicate Layer from the top menu bar.

2. Select it.

Click the layer you want to modify and then click the Patch tool. Drag a selection around the shadowed area you want to remove.

3. Remove it.

Once you’ve made your selection, click inside and drag until you find an area of the adjacent background that matches closely enough to the texture you want.

4. Commit to it.

If your area looks smooth and well blended, you can use Command+D on Mac (or Ctrl+D on PC) to deselect the area and admire your new pixels.

When to remove a shadow.

The interplay of highlight and shadow is important in any photo, but some shadows appear in inconvenient places. These are the most common reasons photographers decide to remove shadows from photos.

An example of a distracting shadow in a photo.

You have distracting shadows in your composition.

To create an interesting photo, you want to draw the viewer’s eye to your intended point of focus. Shadows can draw the eye away from that point and distract your audience.

A photo that has been softened by de-intensifying the shadows.

The contrast between light and dark is too harsh.

Severe shadows can distract the viewer and make an image look more intense or bright than you want it to. Remove or de-intensify shadows to bring warmth and soften the image.

An example of a photo that has been balanced by removing a shadow.

You’re looking for symmetry.

Balance and symmetry are important for a well-composed photo, and removing shadows can remove weight from one hemisphere of your work, bringing the whole piece back into balance.

Adobe Photoshop

Do more with Adobe Photoshop.

Learn more ways to retouch, reshape, and color your work.

Now that you know how to work with shadows, these tutorials will help you understand other Photoshop tools and beginner elements of photo editing and manipulation.

A black-and-white photograph.

Level up your shadow game.

Black-and-white photography is one of the most effective ways to learn about manipulating light and shadow. See how to get started with this guide.

A portrait of a person layered on a greenery background.

New background, new you.

Don’t like the background of a photo or composition? No problem. Photoshop has brush tools, overlays, and blend modes to help you change or upgrade a background. 

A colorful photo with blur effects and adjusted focal length.

Change focus.

Removing shadows is just one way to shift a photo. See how to add blur effects and change focal length to emphasize different elements of your work.

An example of a photo adjusted with duotone effects.

Dynamic duo.

Duotone effects are a cousin of shadow effects, and they can really stylize a photo. See how to colorize and control tones in a photo with an adjustment layer.

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