Rushing a project and no time to read explanation? Jump to the answer code

Since iOS 11, the App Store app has adopted card UI like this :

Card UI

The card-like UI has rounded corner and a light drop shadow beneath it, how can we achieve it?

Say we have a image view like this :

imageView

Implementing shadow

To add a drop shadow, we can modify the shadowColor, shadowOffset, shadowRadius and shadowOpacity properties of the image view's layer :

// inside viewDidLoad

// the color of the shadow
imageView.layer.shadowColor = UIColor.darkGray.cgColor

// the shadow will be 5pt right and 5pt below the image view 
// negative value will place it on left / above of the image view
imageView.layer.shadowOffset = CGSize(width: 5.0, height: 5.0)

// how long the shadow will be. The longer the shadow, the more blurred it will be
imageView.layer.shadowRadius = 25.0

// opacity of the shadow
imageView.layer.shadowOpacity = 0.9

After implementing the code above, here's how the image view looks like :

Shadow

Looking good! In the next section, we will look into how to implement corner radius separately.

Implementing rounded corner

To implement rounded corner, we can change the cornerRadius property of the image view layer like this :

imageView.layer.cornerRadius = 25.0

Build and run the app, then we will get this output :

image view

Wait, why the image view doesn't get rounded? 🤔

When we set the layer.cornerRadius to 25.0 pt, we are actually setting the bounds of the image view like this :

imageView bounds

The bounds are rounded, but the image is not following the boundary (bounds) and extended outside the boundary.

To solve this, we can set the clipsToBounds property to true so that the image will be confined inside the boundary.

imageView.layer.cornerRadius = 25.0
imageView.clipsToBounds = true

Now the image view is rounded, 🙌!

imageView rounded

In the next section, we will look into how to implement both corner radius and shadow together.

Issue with implementing rounded corner with shadow

Since we now know how to implement rounded corner and shadow, let's combine them and we shall get the App Store card-like UI .

imageView.layer.cornerRadius = 25.0
imageView.clipsToBounds = true

imageView.layer.shadowColor = UIColor.darkGray.cgColor
imageView.layer.shadowOffset = CGSize(width: 5.0, height: 5.0)
imageView.layer.shadowRadius = 25.0
imageView.layer.shadowOpacity = 0.9

Build and run the app and we will get an output like this :

rounded corner only

Wait... where did the shadow go? Why combining rounded corner and shadow makes the shadow go away?!

Remember the bounds and clipsToBounds = true we mentioned earlier? When we set clipsToBounds = true, the content (image) will be confined inside the rounded bounds. As the shadow is outside the bounds, it got clipped out :

clipsToBounds

Notice the shadow got clipped after setting clipsToBounds = true.

As we need clipsToBounds = true to make the image become rounded, how can we achieve both rounded corner and shadow effect for the image? 🤔

There's many solutions (some require drawing custom layer ) to this, one of the straightforward solution would be using multiple views (1 view for shadow, 1 view for rounded corner) to achieve the same effect. We will look into this method in the next section.

Implementing rounded corner with shadow

Here's an overview on using two views to achieve rounded corner with shadow effect :

two views

We will create a container view (the top white view with shadow) and put the clipped rounded corner image view inside the container view.

First, drag a view into the storyboard and create an outlet for it (container view) :

container view

// container view and image view have the same corner radius
let cornerRadius : CGFloat = 25.0

override func viewDidLoad() {
    super.viewDidLoad()

    // Do any additional setup after loading the view.

    containerView.layer.cornerRadius = cornerRadius
    containerView.layer.shadowColor = UIColor.darkGray.cgColor
    containerView.layer.shadowOffset = CGSize(width: 5.0, height: 5.0)
    containerView.layer.shadowRadius = 25.0
    containerView.layer.shadowOpacity = 0.9
}

We will get the shadow effect on the container view like this :

shadow effect

Next, we will place the image view inside the container view, and add cornerRadius and clipsToBounds = true to it.

image view inside container view

// container view and image view have the same corner radius
let cornerRadius : CGFloat = 25.0

override func viewDidLoad() {
    super.viewDidLoad()

    // Do any additional setup after loading the view.

    containerView.layer.cornerRadius = cornerRadius
    containerView.layer.shadowColor = UIColor.darkGray.cgColor
    containerView.layer.shadowOffset = CGSize(width: 5.0, height: 5.0)
    containerView.layer.shadowRadius = 25.0
    containerView.layer.shadowOpacity = 0.9
  
    imageView.layer.cornerRadius = cornerRadius
    imageView.clipsToBounds = true
}

Build and run the app, now we get a rounded corner + shadow card UI ! 🎉

rounded corner and shadow

Performance impact and remedies

Using cornerRadius and shadow on a view can have a hit on performance especially when the view is inside a tableview cell which its position changes often (due to scrolling).

There is a shadowPath property for a view's layer, which by default is set to nil. When this property is nil, the system will look at the contents / bounds of the view and try to create a shadow that matches the shape of view. To reduce the system burden, we can set the shadowPath property so the system won't need to infer the view to calculate how to draw the shadow.

We can set the shadow path to follow the path of the rounded container view :

// create a path following the rounded corner image
containerView.layer.shadowPath = UIBezierPath(roundedRect: imageView.bounds, cornerRadius: cornerRadius).cgPath

The UIBezierPath(roundedRect: imageView.bounds, cornerRadius: cornerRadius).cgPath will create a path like this :

shadow path

As for cornerRadius, there's many article on the internet saying you should avoid it as much as possible. Personally I haven't experienced a dealbreaker performance issue using cornerRadius on a recent device (iPhone 6 and newer), one remedy for reducing the performance impact on using cornerRadius would be to mask the image into a rounded image using CoreGraphics first and thus achieving rounded corner image without needing to use cornerRadius. I would advise not to spend too much time preoptimizing performance until you have experienced a noticeable performance impact on your app.

Lego brick photo by Iker Urteaga on Unsplash

Putting it into a table view cell

Chances are, you want to put the card UI into a table view so user can scroll through multiple cards.

How to start implementing this? How to add spacing between each cards? 🤔
Wait, how come the shadow doesn't appear correctly even though shadowPath has been set?! 😱

I have created a demo project containing table view which contain App Store card cell UI which addresses issues mentioned above, you can get it below and play with it: