Is there a correct way to save out shadow/reflection of an object to composite on transparent background in Photoshop? Kinda like Cinema4D or Vray matte works in 3Ds Max. I tried using Blender's 3.5 Shadow Catcher option with Shadow Catcher pass, but it doesn't produce accurate results when compositing externally with "Multiply" or "Linear Light" layer mode at all. And it doesn't catch reflections either. I saw tutorials of people compositing it within Blender Compositor using "Alpha Over" node, but I need to composite it externally, not in Compositor.

I'm really struggling with it as client wants each object and shadow/reflection for it on separate layers to place them anywhere on the background.

  • $\begingroup$ This Q&A site can only help with Blender problems so your question is off-topic here as it's about external software. $\endgroup$
    – John Eason
    Commented May 3, 2023 at 18:22
  • $\begingroup$ My question is about rendering passes in Blender and nothing else. $\endgroup$
    – MMM
    Commented May 3, 2023 at 18:42
  • $\begingroup$ You seem to be talking about Photoshop to me when you mention "compositing externally with "Multiply" or "Linear Light" layer mode ". I don't know how you're exporting from Blender but it's possible that the file format you're using simply doesn't support the light layers you want to export. Others here with more experience of export formats may be able to help. $\endgroup$
    – John Eason
    Commented May 3, 2023 at 18:52
  • $\begingroup$ I exported combined pass for an object itself and "shadow catcher" pass for shadow. Both as PNGs. Also tried adding "Indi Gloss" pass to the mix, but it still does not produce accurate results. I used "Shadow Catcher" without "Shadow Catcher" pass as well to create shadow alpha for all these layers, but it doesn't help much. $\endgroup$
    – MMM
    Commented May 3, 2023 at 19:06

1 Answer 1


I'm not sure if this is what you're looking for, but in my case, I wanted the object with transparency rendered to one PNG and the shadow for it rendered on a separate PNG. (ideally it would output to one PNG with layers, but I don't know how to do that). Is this what you're looking for? I did it by putting my plane (my shadow catcher) in one collection and my object in another collection. I made new view layers, one for the shade wand one for the object (and one with both). I left everything visible, but on the view layer for the object, I clicked on the Indirect only symbol (you have to choose to have this viewable in filter/view options for the outliner) by the plane collection. On the View layer for the shadow, I clicked the Indirect only by the object collection. I did have to have my compositor set up to output two different files- one for the object and one for the shadow. Hope that helps!

  • $\begingroup$ Thank you. It's almost there, but I need shadow/reflections to have transparency around them to place them on a different background. That's what "shadow catcher" is usually doing. $\endgroup$
    – MMM
    Commented May 3, 2023 at 20:21
  • $\begingroup$ (ideally it would output to one PNG with layers, but I don't know how to do that): PNGs do not support layers, so you simply cannot do it. $\endgroup$ Commented May 4, 2023 at 9:40

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