How to Add Letter Shadowing (With Steps, Skills, and Tips)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published April 9, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Shadowing is a text effect that can help distinguish your resume or cover letter and make your job application or portfolio artistic. You can show your creative and technical skills to prospective employers by incorporating this feature. Understanding how to apply this technique and knowing when to use it can assist you at work and during your job search. In this article, we define letter shadowing, detail the step-by-step process required to create it, review the skills needed, and provide tips for applying this technique.

What is letter shadowing?

Letter shadowing is an artistic technique used to accentuate and highlight text. It works in both digital and physical art and is a way to add dimension to text without detracting from the message. Shadows control light and can evoke different responses from the audience. When used with text, shadowing refers to darkening parts of letters to create various illusions, such as intensity and depth.

There are different techniques for shadowing letters. For instance, you may choose an outline around your name on a resume to highlight the text. Some different shadowing techniques include:

  • Shadows with highlights: By incorporating both shadowing and highlighting, the artist can control light flow. It involves dark shadows surrounding the letters with highlights inside of the text itself.

  • Multi-tone shadows: This technique uses multiple hues to create the shadowing effect. It's usually a suitable method for three-dimensional work, as the different shades can cause optical illusions that suggest depth.

  • Colourful shadows: Though shadowing was traditionally black and white, modern art, in both digital and analog forms, embraces colourful shades. It's when the artist surrounds the text with a contrasting or complementary coloured border.

  • Hatching outlines: This shadowing technique involves creating small cross-hatched dashes to surround your text in a specific space. The hatches allow you to adjust the opacity while controlling the direction of the shadow to add dimension to your piece.

  • Empty shadows: An empty shadow outlines the text with a thick border, then creates another border to surround it. The white space becomes the shadow and adds a modern appearance by leaving this space empty.

  • Monoline shadows: This type of shadow uses subtle outlines to surround the text's interior. For bubble letters, the monoline creates a cohesive yet subtle effect that makes it suitable for basic shadowing.

Related: 12 High Paying Careers for Artists (With Salaries and Duties)

How to include letter shadows

Here's a list of steps you can take if you are interested in learning how to create letter shadows:

1. Draw your text

The first step to creating letter shadows is to draw your text. When you draw and colour the letters, remain mindful of your plans to add shadows later, so you use the appropriate drawing materials. Complete the text using the lightest border possible. Ensure that you have sufficient space on the page for the text and the subsequent shadows. Though shadowing suggests a focus on dark shades, it's the control of light on the page that adds the effect.

2. Determine the best type of shadowing

Once you have the letters, select the effect you want to create. Darker shading with complementary colours has a different emotional effect than bright contrasts and white space shadows. Identify the style and tone you wish to achieve and choose the shadowing technique. This can depend on the purpose of the text and what you want to emphasize.

Related: What Is a Graphic Designer? (With Required Skills)

3. Choose your instruments

Proper shadowing requires using the correct instruments depending on the art modality. For a digital project, you can use a tablet and stylus, along with shadowing software. Other media includes oil and acrylic paint, watercolours, markers, and pastels. The shadow integrates with the existing text to create an extra effect, so finding a complementary material is important to add a shadow correctly. For example, drawing letters in marker or pencil requires shadowing material to see around the letters clearly.

4. Draw the shadow

Using your art supplies, draw the shadow from your plans. Be mindful of smudging when adding the shadow to the piece. Work slowly, tracing the shadow letter by letter to promote consistency. Aim to complete the whole shadowing process in the same light to keep the shadow even. Review the work once the piece is complete by checking the thickness and tone of the shadows for consistency.

5. Practise new techniques

As with any artistic skill, it's essential to practise regularly to master this skill. There are multiple types of shadowing techniques and many media on which you can practise. The more ways you know how to do letter shadows, the better qualified you are as an artist and a graphic designer. Work with different colours, types of shadows, and ways to create them, then generate a portfolio with your best work.

Related: How to Write a Graphic Designer Resume (Tips and Examples)

Useful skills for making letter shadows

There are many vital skills for creating letter shadows, both technical and artistic. Effective use of this artistic style takes repetition and training, but it also benefits from some specific skills, including:


Artistic creativity is essential to any type of visual effect, including letter shadows. It requires the artist to understand the purpose of the text and to use that information to create a shadow effect that matches the tone. Creative thinking helps the artist visualize each option before deciding on an aesthetic direction.

Read more: Improve Your Creativity Skills to Highlight on Your Resume

Design software experience

Though a significant amount of art remains analog, graphic and digital designers also create illustrations and art. This requires the artist to have technical experience with different designing software and tools. Most common word processors incorporate a shadowing feature, though there are more specialized options for graphic designers and other art professionals. The more experience you have with technology, the easier it becomes to expand your skills and develop your shadowing expertise.

Stable motor skills

It takes attention to detail and a steady hand to add shadows to letters. Stable motor skills improve with practise and promote precision while the artist traces the text. Controlling your artistic instruments is important to prevent errors, save time, and get the desired results.


Art requires time, repetition, discipline, and practise, which requires patience. From communicating with clients and accommodating requests for adjustments, patient artists can work to achieve a successful result. Patience involves consistently maintaining a high-quality work product, despite repetition, time constraints, or other potential stresses.

Tips for shadowing letters successfully

Letter shadows have applications in many artistic industries, including web development, logo production, and communication. Shadows are a significant subject in art because of their ability to impact emotions and influence audience responses. Some tips for efficiently learning shadowing techniques include:

Start with simple projects

When you begin to work with shadowing letters, start with basic projects to familiarize yourself with the media. Practise with pencil, use simple designs, and apply different shadow approaches. Use the word processors and art software you know well and apply the text shadowing effects. Either take a tutorial or experiment with the different features until you get comfortable adding shadows to text and adjusting them.

Control your light source

Whether you design your letter shadows digitally or otherwise, controlling the direction of your surrounding light is important. Many artists use a ring light to ensure consistent results, while others prefer natural light and work at specific times during the day. The light around you impacts how the shadows look, so maintaining consistency helps you add matching shadows for each letter.

Practise in analog and digital formats

To understand the scope of modern letter shading, using technology is an important step, regardless of the media with which you work. Three-dimensional art software allows you to create shadows with better control and perspective. This can help you understand how to translate these visual effects into physical art. It also contributes to your experience with graphic design by maintaining your technical abilities and creative skills.

Pursue technical training

If you want to expand your art skills into letter shadows, you may consider a career in art or graphic design. To learn the most popular design software and tools, industry best practices, and artistic techniques, you can attend a college or university. There are various programs, ranging from one-year certificates to four-year arts degrees. To advance your artistic career, pursuing education can be a helpful step that may lead to increased employment opportunities.

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