Shadows are fast and easy to setup! You can use After Effects lights to cast shadows onto your objects in your scene with the two Element shadow modes, Shadow Mapping and Ray Traced Shadows.
There are two types of Shadow Modes. Shadowing Mapping looks great and has fast performance, uses Parallel and Spot lights. Ray-Traced is more accurate but can take more computer resources, uses all AE lights.
Element objects can cast Shadows on to other Element objects. See Matte Shadow
for how to cast a shadow from your object on to your AE background.
In this case we’ll select a sphere and plane model from the Primitives Tab in the Scene Setup. You can use the Anchor Points to move the objects into place. Scale the Plane large fairly large, as this will catch the shadow. Hit OK to go back to After Effects.
Go to Layer/Create New/Light at the top AE Bar. For instant results change the Light Type to Parallel or Spot, as Shadow Mapping is set by default and can use those light types.
Go to the Element effect panel Render Settings/Shadows and click Enable. We did it!
You can turn off certain objects from either Casting Shadows or Receiving Shadows. Sometimes it’s best to turn off the bottom plane to not Receiving Shadows.