Layer effects and styles

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Photoshop provides a variety of effects—such as shadows, glows, and bevels—that change the appearance of a layer's contents in a non-distructive way. Layer effects are linked to the layer contents. When you move or edit the contents of the layer, the same effects are applied to the modified contents. For example, if you apply a drop shadow to a text layer and then add new text, the shadow is added automatically to the new text.

A layer style is one or more effects applied to a layer or layer group. You can apply one of the preset styles provided with Photoshop or create a custom style using the Layer Style dialog box. The layer effects icon  appears to the right of the layer's name in the Layers panel. You can expand the style in the Layers panel to view or edit the effects that compose the style.

You can apply multiple effects in a single layer style. Also, more than one instance of some effects can comprise a layer style.

Photoshop Layers panel
Layers panel showing layer with multiple effects applied

A. Layer effects icon B. Click to expand and show layer effects C. Layer effects 

When you save a custom style, it becomes a preset style. Preset styles appear in the Styles panel and can be applied to a layer or group with a single click.

How to use new Presets in Photoshop

Learn all about applying Photoshop's new and improved Presets panels. Julieanne Kost explores everything from swatches to patterns, from gradients to styles and shapes.

Julieanne Kost

Apply preset styles

You can apply preset styles from the Styles panel. The layer styles that come with Photoshop are grouped into libraries by function. For example, one library contains styles for creating web buttons; another library contains styles for adding effects to text. To access these styles, you need to load the appropriate library. For information on loading and saving styles, see Create and manage preset styles.

Note:

You cannot apply layer styles to a background, locked layer, or group.

Display the Styles panel

  1. Choose Window > Styles.

Apply a preset style to a layer

Normally, applying a preset style replaces the current layer style. However, you can add the attributes of a second style to those of the current style.

  1. Do one of the following:
    • Click a style in the Styles panel to apply it to the currently selected layers.

    • Drag a style from the Styles panel onto a layer in the Layers panel.

    • Drag a style from the Styles panel to the document window, and release the mouse button when the pointer is over the layer content to which you want to apply the style.

      Note: Hold down Shift as you click or drag to add (rather than replace) the style to any existing effects on the destination layer.

    • Choose Layer > Layer Style > Blending Options, and click the word Styles in the Layer Style dialog box (top item in the list on the left side of the dialog box). Click the style you want to apply, and click OK.

    • When using a Shape tool or Pen tool in shape layers mode, select a style from the pop‑up panel in the options bar before drawing the shape.

    Note:

    Some effects have a + icon, indicating that they can be applied more than once in a layer style.

Apply a style from another layer

  • In the Layers panel, Alt-drag (Windows) or Option-drag (Mac OS) the style from a layer's effect list to copy it to another layer.
  • In the Layers panel, click-drag the style from a layer's effect list to move it to another layer.

Change how preset styles are displayed

  1. Click the triangle in the Styles panel, Layer Style dialog box, or Layer Style pop‑up panel in the options bar.
  2. Choose a display option from the panel menu:
    • Text Only to view the layer styles as a list.

    • Small Thumbnail or Large Thumbnail to view the layer styles as thumbnails.

    • Small List or Large List to view the layer styles as a list, with a thumbnail of the selected layer style displayed.

Layer Style dialog box overview

You can edit styles applied to a layer or create new styles using the Layer Style dialog box.

Photoshop Layer Style dialog box
Layer Style dialog box. Click a check box to apply the current settings without displaying the effect's options. Click an effect name to display its options.

You can create custom styles using one or more of the following effects:

  • Drop Shadow: Adds a shadow that falls behind the contents on the layer.
  • Inner Shadow: Adds a shadow that falls just inside the edges of the layer's content, giving the layer a recessed appearance.
  • Outer Glow and Inner Glow: Add glows that emanate from the outside or inside edges of the layer's content.
  • Bevel and Emboss: Add various combinations of highlights and shadows to a layer.
  • Satin: Applies interior shading that creates a satiny finish.
  • Color, Gradient, and Pattern Overlay: Fills the layer's content with a color, gradient, or pattern.
  • Stroke: Outlines the object on the current layer using color, a gradient, or a pattern. It is particularly useful on hard-edged shapes such as type.

Apply or edit a custom layer style

Note:

You cannot apply layer styles to a background layer, a locked layer, or a group. To apply a layer style to a background layer, first convert it into a regular layer.

  1. Select a single layer from the Layers panel.
  2. Do one of the following:
    • Double-click the layer, outside the layer name or thumbnail.

    • Click the Add A Layer Style icon   at the bottom of the Layers panel and choose an effect from the list.

    • Choose an effect from the Layer > Layer Style submenu.

    • To edit an existing style, double-click an effect displayed below the layer name in the Layers panel. (Click the triangle next to the Add A Layer Style icon   to display the effects contained in the style.)

  3. Set effect options in the Layer Style dialog box. See Layer style options.
  4. Add other effects to the style, if desired. In the Layer Style dialog box, click the check box to the left of the effect name to add the effect without selecting it.
    Note:

    You can edit multiple effects without closing the Layer Style dialog box. Click the name of an effect on the left side of the dialog box to display its options.

Change style defaults to custom values

  1. In the Layer Style dialog box, customize settings as desired.
  2. Click Make Default.

    When you next open the dialog box, your custom defaults are automatically applied. If you adjust settings and want to return to your custom defaults, click Reset To Default.

Layer style options

Beginning with Photoshop 21.2, you can also set an angle to rotate the pattern overlay and easily change its orientation.

Altitude

For the Bevel and Emboss effect, sets the height of the light source. A setting of 0 is equivalent to ground level, 90 is directly above the layer.

Angle

Determines the lighting angle at which the effect is applied to the layer. You can drag in the document window to adjust the angle of a Pattern Overlay, Drop Shadow, Inner Shadow, or Satin effect.

Anti-alias

Blends the edge pixels of a contour or gloss contour. This option is most useful on small shadows with complicated contours.

Blend Mode

Determines how the layer style blends with the underlying layers, which may or may not include the active layer. For example, an inner shadow blends with the active layer because the effect is drawn on top of that layer, but a drop shadow blends only with the layers beneath the active layer. In most cases, the default mode for each effect produces the best results. See Blending modes.

Choke

Shrinks the boundaries of the matte of an Inner Shadow or Inner Glow prior to blurring.

Color

Specifies the color of a shadow, glow, or highlight. You can click the color box and choose a color.

Contour

With solid‑color glows, Contour allows you to create rings of transparency. With gradient-filled glows, Contour allows you to create variations in the repetition of the gradient color and opacity. In beveling and embossing, Contour allows you to sculpt the ridges, valleys, and bumps that are shaded in the embossing process. With shadows, Contour allows you to specify the fade. For more information, see Modify layer effects with contours.

Distance

Specifies the offset distance for a shadow or satin effect. You can drag in the document window to adjust the offset distance.

Depth

Specifies the depth of a bevel. It also specifies the depth of a pattern.

Use Global Light

This setting allows you to set one "master" lighting angle that is then available in all the layer effects that use shading: Drop Shadow, Inner Shadow, and Bevel and Emboss. In any of these effects, if Use Global Light is selected and you set a lighting angle, that angle becomes the global lighting angle. Any other effect that has Use Global Light selected automatically inherits the same angle setting. If Use Global Light is deselected, the lighting angle you set is "local" and applies only to that effect. You can also set the global lighting angle by choosing Layer Style > Global Light.

Gloss Contour

Creates a glossy, metallic appearance. Gloss Contour is applied after shading a bevel or emboss.

Gradient

Specifies the gradient of a layer effect. Click the gradient to display the Gradient Editor, or click the inverted arrow and choose a gradient from the pop‑up panel. You can edit a gradient or create a new gradient using the Gradient Editor. You can edit the color or opacity in the Gradient Overlay panel the same way you edit them in the Gradient Editor. For some effects, you can specify additional gradient options. Reverse flips the orientation of the gradient, Align With Layer uses the bounding box of the layer to calculate the gradient fill, and Scale scales the application of the gradient. You can also move the center of the gradient by clicking and dragging in the image window. Style specifies the shape of the gradient.

Highlight or Shadow Mode

Specifies the blending mode of a bevel or emboss highlight or shadow.

Jitter

Varies the application of a gradient's color and opacity.

Layer Knocks Out Drop Shadow

Controls the drop shadow's visibility in a semitransparent layer.

Noise

Specifies the number of random elements in the opacity of a glow or shadow. Enter a value or drag the slider.

Opacity

Sets the opacity of the layer effect. Enter a value or drag the slider.

Pattern

Specifies the pattern of a layer effect. Click the pop‑up panel and choose a pattern. Set the Angle selector at a certain degree or manually type in an angle value to rotate your pattern at the desired angle. Click the New Preset button  to create a new preset pattern based on the current settings. Click Snap To Origin to make the origin of the pattern the same as the origin of the document (when Link With Layer is selected), or to place the origin at the upper-left corner of the layer (if Link With Layer is deselected). Select Link With Layer if you want the pattern to move along with the layer as the layer moves. Drag the Scale slider or enter a value to specify the size of the pattern. Drag a pattern to position it in the layer; reset the position by using the Snap To Origin button. The Pattern option is not available if no patterns are loaded.

Position

Specifies the position of a stroke effect as Outside, Inside, or Center.

Range

Controls which portion or range of the glow is targeted for the contour.

Size

Specifies the radius and size of blur or the size of the shadow.

Soften

Blurs the results of shading to reduce unwanted artifacts.

Source

Specifies the source for an inner glow. Choose Center to apply a glow that emanates from the center of the layer's content, or Edge to apply a glow that emanates from the inside edges of the layer's content.

Spread

Expands the boundaries of the matte prior to blurring.

Style

Specifies the style of a bevel: Inner Bevel creates a bevel on the inside edges of the layer contents; Outer Bevel creates a bevel on the outside edges of the layer contents; Emboss simulates the effect of embossing the layer contents against the underlying layers; Pillow Emboss simulates the effect of stamping the edges of the layer contents into the underlying layers; and Stroke Emboss confines embossing to the boundaries of a stroke effect applied to the layer. (The Stroke Emboss effect is not visible if no stroke is applied to the layer.)

Technique

Smooth, Chisel Hard, and Chisel Soft are available for bevel and emboss effects; Softer and Precise apply to Inner Glow and Outer Glow effects.

Smooth blurs the edges of a matte slightly and is useful for all types of mattes, whether their edges are soft or hard. It does not preserve detailed features at larger sizes. Chisel Hard uses a distance measurement technique and is primarily useful on hard-edged mattes from anti-aliased shapes such as type. It preserves detailed features better than the Smooth technique. Chisel Soft uses a modified distance measurement technique and, although not as accurate as Chisel Hard, is more useful on a larger range of mattes. It preserves features better than the Smooth technique. Softer applies a blur and is useful on all types of mattes, whether their edges are soft or hard. At larger sizes, Softer does not preserve detailed features. Precise uses a distance measurement technique to create a glow and is primarily useful on hard-edged mattes from anti-aliased shapes such as type. It preserves features better than the Softer technique.

 

 

Texture

Applies a texture. Use Scale to scale the size of the texture. Select Link With Layer if you want the texture to move along with the layer as the layer moves. Invert inverts the texture. Depth varies the degree and direction (up/down) to which the texturing is applied. Snap To Origin makes the origin of the pattern the same as the origin of the document (if Link With Layer is deselected) or places the origin in the upper-left corner of the layer (if Link With Layer is selected). Drag the texture to position it in the layer.

Modify layer effects with contours

When you create custom layer styles, you can use contours to control the shape of Drop Shadow, Inner Shadow, Inner Glow, Outer Glow, Bevel and Emboss, and Satin effects over a given range. For example, a Linear contour on a Drop Shadow causes the opacity to drop off in a linear transition. Use a Custom contour to create a unique shadow transition.

You can select, reset, delete, or change the preview of contours in the Contour pop‑up panel and Preset Manager.

Photoshop Detail of Layer Style dialog box for Drop Shadow effect
Detail of Layer Style dialog box for Drop Shadow effect

A. Click to display the Contour Editor dialog box. B. Click to display the pop‑up panel. 

Create a custom contour

  1. Select the Drop Shadow, Inner Shadow, Inner Glow, Outer Glow, Bevel and Emboss, Contour, or Satin effect in the Layer Style dialog box.
  2. Click the contour thumbnail in the Layer Style dialog box.
  3. Click the contour to add points, and drag to adjust the contour. Or enter values for Input and Output.
  4. To create a sharp corner instead of a smooth curve, select a point and click Corner.
  5. To save the contour to a file, click Save and name the contour.
  6. To store a contour as a preset, choose New.
  7. Click OK. New contours are added at the bottom of the pop‑up panel.

Load a contour

  1. Click the contour in the Layer Style dialog box, and in the Contour Editor dialog box, and then choose Load. Go to the folder containing the contour library you want to load and click Open.

Delete a contour

  1. Click the inverted arrow next to the currently selected contour to view the pop‑up panel. Press Alt (Windows) or Option (Mac OS), and click the contour you want to delete.

Set a global lighting angle for all layers

Using global light gives the appearance of a common light source shining on the image.

  1. Do one of the following:
    • Choose Layer > Layer Style > Global Light. In the Global Light dialog box, enter a value or drag the angle radius to set the angle and altitude, and click OK.

    • In the Layer Style dialog box for Drop Shadow, Inner Shadow, or Bevel, select Use Global Light. For Angle, enter a value or drag the radius, and click OK.

    The global lighting applies to each layer effect that uses the global lighting angle.

Display or hide layer styles

When a layer has a style, an "fx" icon  appears to the right of the layer's name in the Layers panel.

Hide or show all layer styles in an image

  1. Choose Layer > Layer Style > Hide All Effects or Show All Effects.

Expand or collapse layer styles in the Layers panel

  1. Do one of the following:
    • Click the triangle  next to the Add A Layer Style icon  to expand the list of layer effects applied to that layer.

    • Click the triangle to collapse the layer effects.

    • To expand or collapse all of the layer styles applied within a group, hold down Alt (Windows) or Option (Mac OS), and click the triangle or inverted triangle for the group. The layer styles applied to all layers within the group expand or collapse correspondingly.

Copy layer styles

Copying and pasting styles is an easy way to apply the same effects to multiple layers.

Copy layer styles between layers

  1. From the Layers panel, select the layer containing the style you want to copy.
  2. Choose Layer > Layer Style > Copy Layer Style.
  3. Select the destination layer from the panel, and choose Layer > Layer Style > Paste Layer Style.

    The pasted layer style replaces the existing layer style on the destination layer or layers.

Copy layer styles between layers by dragging

  1. Do one of the following:
    • In the Layers panel, Alt-drag (Windows) or Option-drag (Mac OS) a single layer effect from one layer to another to duplicate the layer effect, or drag the Effects bar from one layer to another to duplicate the layer style.

    • Drag one or more layer effects from the Layers panel to the image to apply the resulting layer style to the highest layer in the Layers panel that contains pixels at the drop point.

Scale a layer effect

A layer style may have been fine-tuned for a target resolution and features of a given size. Using Scale Effects allows you to scale the effects in the layer style without scaling the object to which the layer style is applied.

  1. Select the layer in the Layers panel.
  2. Choose Layer > Layer Style > Scale Effects.
  3. Enter a percentage or drag the slider.
  4. Select Preview to preview the changes in the image.
  5. Click OK.

Remove layer effects

You can remove an individual effect from a style applied to a layer, or remove the entire style from the layer.

Remove an effect from a style

  1. In the Layers panel, expand the layer style to see its effects.
  2. Drag the effect to the Delete icon  .

Remove a style from a layer

  1. In the Layers panel, select the layer containing the style you want to remove.
  2. Do one of the following:
    • In the Layers panel, drag the Effects bar to the Delete icon .

    • Choose Layer > Layer Style > Clear Layer Style.

    • Select the layer, and then click the Clear Style button  at the bottom of the Styles panel.

Convert a layer style to image layers

To customize or fine-tune the appearance of layer styles, you can convert the layer styles to regular image layers. After you convert a layer style to image layers, you can enhance the result by painting or applying commands and filters. However, you can no longer edit the layer style on the original layer, and the layer style no longer updates as you change the original image layer.

Note:

The layers produced by this process may not result in artwork that exactly matches the version using layer styles. You may see an alert when you create the new layers.

  1. In the Layers panel, select the layer containing the layer style that you want to convert.
  2. Choose Layer > Layer Style > Create Layers.

    You can now modify and restack the new layers in the same way as regular layers. Some effects—for example, Inner Glow—convert to layers within a clipping mask.

Create and manage preset styles

You can create a custom style and save it as a preset, which is then available from the Styles panel. You can save preset styles in a library and load or remove them from the Styles panel as you need them.

Create a new preset style

  1. From the Layers panel, select the layer containing the style that you want to save as a preset.
  2. Do one of the following:
    • Click an empty area of the Styles panel.

    • Click the Create New Style button at the bottom of the Styles panel.

    • Choose New Style from the Styles panel menu.

    • Choose Layer > Layer Style > Blending Options, and click New Style in the Layer Style dialog box.

  3. Enter a name for the preset style, set style options, and click OK.

Rename a preset style

  1. Do one of the following:
    • Double-click a style in the Styles panel. If the Styles panel is set to display styles as thumbnails, enter a new name in the dialog box and click OK. Otherwise, type a new name directly in the Styles panel and press Enter (Windows) or Return (Mac OS).

    • Select a style in the Styles area of the Layer Style dialog box. Then choose Rename Style from the pop‑up menu, enter a new name, and click OK.

    • When using a shape or Pen tool, select a style from the Style pop‑up panel in the options bar. Then choose Rename Style from the pop‑up panel menu.

Delete a preset style

  1. Do one of the following:
    • Drag a style to the Delete icon  at the bottom of the Styles panel.

    • Press Alt (Windows) or Option (Mac OS), and click the layer style in the Styles panel.

    • Select a style in the Styles area of the Layer Style dialog box. (See Apply preset styles.) Then choose Delete Style from the pop‑up menu.

    • When using a shape or Pen tool, select a style from the Layer Style pop‑up panel in the options bar. Then choose Delete Style from the pop‑up panel menu.

Save a set of preset styles as a library

  1. Do one of the following:
    • Choose Save Styles from the Styles panel menu.

    • Select Styles on the left side of the Layer Style dialog box. Then choose Save Styles from the pop‑up menu.

    • When using a shape or Pen tool, click the layer style thumbnail in the options bar. Then choose Save Styles from the pop‑up panel menu.

  2. Choose a location for the style library, enter a file name, and click Save.

    You can save the library anywhere. However, if you place the library file in the Presets/Styles folder inside the default presets location, the library name will appear at the bottom of the Styles panel menu when you restart the application.

    Note:

    You can also use the Preset Manager to rename, delete, and save libraries of preset styles.

Load a library of preset styles

  1. Click the triangle in the Styles panel, Layer Style dialog box, or Layer Style pop‑up panel in the options bar.
  2. Do one of the following:
    • Choose Load Styles to add a library to the current list. Then select the library file you want to use, and click Load.

    • Choose Replace Styles to replace the current list with a different library. Then select the library file you want to use, and click Load.

    • Choose a library file (displayed at the bottom of the panel menu). Then click OK to replace the current list, or click Append to append the current list.

  3. To return to the default library of preset styles, choose Reset Styles. You can either replace the current list or append the default library to the current list.
    Note:

    You can also use the Preset Manager to load and reset style libraries. See Work with the Preset Manager.

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