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I'm making a "crater" (by deforming a plane), and I do not want the grey color of the plane to be present in the final render, i.e. I would like only deformation-caused shadows to be left, but make the plane transparent. I was expecting "shadow catcher" function to help, but it hides entire plane with all the casted shadows.

Essentially I'm trying to get rid of the plane color (to replace it with transparent) and keep shadows in the render. So far I have found no compositing or shader features to help me with that.

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In Eevee you can turn the shading into a mask with the Shader to RGB node: enter image description here This allows for multiple ligth shading. Remember to set Blending to Alpha Blend to see transparency in Material Settings. Also set Show Backface to Off in Material Settings to skip see-through back faces.

In Cycles there is no Shader to RGB node, you can try to do your own simple shader to be used as mask. Use an Empty as light for this "fake shader" and try this node setup: enter image description here The last Mix stage has the same purpose as the Show Backface Off setting in Eevee.

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