The trend of flat 2D style animations is still very much alive, and with that comes 2D flat shadows. There are a ton of ways to create long flat shadows in After Effects, with tons of presets out there that give you the same general result. In this tutorial, I’ll show you one quick and easy way to create flat long shadows using minimal built-in effects, all within a single layer for neatness.
The main shadow will be created using CC Radial Fast Blur, which will be choked into a solid hard shadow using Matte Choker. By using Tint to tint the shadow black, lowering the opacity, and using CC Composite to composite the shadow onto the original layer itself, you create a very organic yet flat looking shadow. You can even apply a Linear Wipe and adjust the angle and feather to create some fading falloff for your flat shadow. To make your life a bit easier, try rigging up some basic expression controls or saving the effect as a preset to save time in the future.
You can also create pretty realistic shadows using this technique as well, simply don’t apply the Matte Choker effect. Using many variances of CC Radial Fast Blur, tinting them black, lowering the opacity, and compositing it using CC Composite will give you a nice realistic shadow all within a single layer. I want to emphasize how useful the CC Composite effect is in terms of keeping things very simple: use it when you can!
Have any other solutions for creating 2D flat shadows? Have any questions, or want to provide feedback? Let me know in the comments below!