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.
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.
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.
You cannot apply layer styles to a background, locked layer, or group.
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.
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.
Some effects have a + icon, indicating that they can be applied more than once in a layer style.
- 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.
Layer Style dialog box overview
You can create custom styles using one or more of the following effects:
Adds a shadow that falls behind the contents on the layer.
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.
Applies interior shading that creates a satiny finish.
Color, Gradient, and Pattern Overlay
Fills the layer’s content with a color, gradient, or pattern.
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
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.
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.)
- 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.
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.
Layer style options
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.
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 Drop Shadow, Inner Shadow, or Satin effect.
Blends the edge pixels of a contour or gloss contour. This option is most useful on small shadows with complicated contours.
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.
Specifies the color of a shadow, glow, or highlight. You can click the color box and choose a color.
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.
Specifies the offset distance for a shadow or satin effect. You can drag in the document window to adjust the offset distance.
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.
Creates a glossy, metallic appearance. Gloss Contour is applied after shading a bevel or emboss.
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.
Specifies the number of random elements in the opacity of a glow or shadow. Enter a value or drag the slider.
Specifies the pattern of a layer effect. Click the pop‑up panel and choose a pattern. 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.
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.
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.)
Smooth, Chisel Hard, and Chisel Soft are available for bevel and emboss effects; Softer and Precise apply to Inner Glow and Outer Glow effects.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A. Click to display the Contour Editor dialog box. B. Click to display the pop‑up panel.
Set a global lighting angle for all layers
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.
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.
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
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.
Remove layer effects
You can remove an individual effect from a style applied to a layer, or remove the entire style from the layer.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
You can also use the Preset Manager to rename, delete, and save libraries of preset styles.
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.
- 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.
You can also use the Preset Manager to load and reset style libraries. See Work with the Preset Manager.