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How to Set Up a Shadow Catcher in Blender

Featured image for a blog post explaining how to set up Blender's Shadow Catcher feature. The image showcases Blender's Suzanne monkey placed on a white plane on the left, and on the right, the monkey is placed on a shadow catcher. The title "BLENDER SHADOW CATCHER" is displayed at the bottom.
Setting up Blender Shadow Catcher

Table of contents

Blender Shadow Catcher is a feature in Blender that allows objects to receive shadows from other objects in a scene, making it appear as if they are casting shadows onto a transparent or reflective surface. It is commonly used in animation and visual effects to add realism to a scene by incorporating cast shadows into a virtual environment.

For example, when compositing a 3D model onto an image or video. A shadow catcher hides the floor on which the 3D model is standing while retaining shadows cast on it.

How to set up a shadow catcher in Blender’s Cycles render engine

Follow these steps to set up a shadow catcher in the Blender cycles engine.

  • Add a plane to the scene. This will act as the ground.
  • Place your model on top of the ground plane
  • With the ground plane selected, go to Object Properties > Visibility
  • Tick the Shadow Catcher box in the Visibility tab
  • The ground plane is now transparent while retaining shadows
Shadow catcher in Cycles render engine
Shadow catcher in Cycles render engine

How to set up a shadow catcher in Blender’s EEVEE render engine

  • Add a plane to the scene. This will act as the ground.
  • Place your model on top of the ground plane
  • Select the ground plane switch to the shader editor
  • Setup the shader nodes as shown in the image below
EEVEE Shadow Catcher node set up
EEVEE Shadow Catcher node set up
  • With the ground plane selected, go to Material Properties > Settings. Check Backface Culling. Switch Blend Mode to Alpha Blend. Uncheck Show Backface.
Material settings in EEVEE
Material settings in EEVEE
  • It is recommended you use the sun as the source of light in the scene for the best results

How to set up a shadow catcher using Product Rendering Tools addon

Product Rendering Tools help you create product renders easier and faster in Blender. It can also be used on other blender projects as well.

Follow these steps to set up a shadow catcher using Product Rendering Tools addon.

  • Add a plane to the scene. This will act as the ground.
  • Place your model on top of the ground plane
  • With the ground plane selected, go to the Product Rendering Tools panel and tick the box labeled ‘Turn Selected Object Into A Shadow Catcher
How to use Product Rendering Tools shadow catcher in Blender
How to use Product Rendering Tools shadow catcher in Blender

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RallyG
RallyG
1 year ago

Thank you for the tutorial! Does it possible that shadow results transfer to Color attributes (into vertex colors)? Thanks for replay

RallyG
RallyG
Reply to  E. Gachoki
1 year ago

yes, but how to do the same in Blender color attribute (for example to ground mesh?

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