What's the rationale behind styling flat/straight boxes to cast curved shadows on flat/straight surfaces?

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Image credit: http://cjwainwright.co.uk/webdev/liftedcorners/

Sure it makes the object stand out, but this shadow is physically impossible. The paper is straight (no curled up edges), and the webpage has a flat background.

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    Sure it makes the object stand out sounds like reason enough for most purposes, not sure why "physycally possible" woul be better in an image, or do you mean something else within a given context? – Devin Aug 27 '17 at 22:23
  • Even if it seems physically impossible, it still tricks the eye into seeing it as a curved object. I believe it still achieves the desired look without looking "impossible" by the viewer. – BlueCaret Jul 3 '18 at 21:16
  • That is not correct to use mathematical characters to make the title of the question bold (and stand out in the list). Please, replace them with the regular ones. – Pavel Jul 4 '18 at 4:37
  • There could be lots of different reasons for implementing this style/embellishment on a UI element, one of which you have already mentioned (makes the object stand out). But since this is more to do with a styling/aesthetics choice and it can vary depending on who is implementing this, I am not sure you'll find a definitive reason for this. – Michael Lai Jul 4 '18 at 5:37

Visual designers keep working on UI elements to create distinct and memorable visual elements on a website. And like you mentioned yourself, this effect brings more focus to the element.

The curved shadow effect is physically possible. The image below shows one of the ways it is possible which is if the surface isn't flat and has a slight curve with the focal point being the center of the object on the surface.

Curved shadow logic

There are other cases where this effect can be noticed:

  • One being when the light is focused on the artwork in galleries.
  • Another is when the paper (mostly with card sheets that come in rolls) isn't lying flat on the surface and has a natural curve towards the edges
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  • Curved shadows are physically possible when cast onto a curved surface. Webpages are flat. – clickbait Jul 1 '18 at 15:09
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    You clearly didn't read the answer – Shreyas Tripathy Jul 1 '18 at 17:28
  • It's also possible using orthographic projection. If the paper is curved outward toward the viewer and against a flat surface, the paper will still appear rectilinear. The light source (imaginary or not) would cast a curved shadow unless it were in the same position as the viewer. – jsejcksn Jul 4 '18 at 10:53

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