A water strider has a remarkable capability to stand and walk freely on water. Supporting forces of a water strider and a bionic robot have been calculated from the side view of pressed depth of legs to reconstruct the water surface dimples. However, in situ measurements of the multiple leg forces and significantly small leg/water contact dimples have not been realized yet. In this study, a shadow method was proposed to reconstruct the in situ three-dimensional topographies of leg/water contact dimples and their corresponding supporting forces. Results indicated that the supporting forces were affected by the depth, width, and length of the dimple, and that the maximum dimple depth was not proportional to the supporting forces. The shadow method also has advantages in disclosing tiny supporting force of legs in their subtle actions. These results are helpful for understanding the locomotion principles of water-walking insects and the design of biomimetic aquatic devices.

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