How to create watch hand shadows

Is there a way to make the watch hands more 3D - shadows etc.

Or an embossed look.


Hello, yes there is a way.
To make dynamic shadows the simplest way is:

  1. duplicate the hand layer

  2. set appearance of the lower one to complete black and make it semitransparent

  3. shift the whole duplicate layer few pixels down

To make the shadow more “realistic”, prepare its image in some editing program so, that the black shape of hand is a bit blurred on the edges. and swap it for the bottom duplicate.

To make embossed hands prepare images of hands in some kind of image editors like gimp or or photoshop or even MS Powerpoint can give good results with its 3D formatting for shapes. there you can export any individual shape as separate image with transparent background.


What is the best shape to create for realistic shadow? If we go with the first recommendation of duplicated layer with a bit Y-offset, it gives pretty good result, but shadow is not always presented: only at one side.

Absolute best would be to calculate the shadow based on the current time, but that would drain the battery ofc.

However, still, I’m trying to figure out, how would I have to create the shape to my hands to make it perfect. Any thoughts? :slight_smile:

If you do not make the “shadow” layer to change placement depending on watch case rotation using the gyro sensor, then the simplest and most accurate is to make it like black semitransparent blurred duplicate of the layer that should “cast” the shadow.
There is nothing to calculate. Note even on mechanical watches the shadows of hands are simple projection from light source around the hand edges to the dial. What can vary is the “depth” and direction, but you have no sensor data to calculate direction or how much “diffuse” the light source is. You have to pick direction (from above or from top corner), virtual distance of layers (the closest casts the shadow the closest and most sharp, the most distant has to be more blurred and shifted) and stay consistent with it on all layers that should have shade (not that one casts shadow to the right other to the left). Look at this example, you can notice shadows from two light sources (one probably higher than the other):


This is a great article and if you want to really focus on shadowing, it is a must read to understand the graphical aspects of shadowing…