photoshop creative

Ten top layer style tips

Posted in:
Tips & Tutorials, by Mark White
November 3, 2014

Discover our handy tips for improving the way that you work with layer styles

1. Inner glows

You can use an Inner Glow to your advantage and hide the obvious signs that a subject has been cut out and placed onto a new background. Set to white, a thin Inner Glow around the inside of a subject can help hide dark edges. This helps to blend layers into the background for more realistic compositions.

2. Custom shadows

When you apply a drop shadow to a subject, sometimes it’s tricky to get it in the right position. Apply a basic one to start with, and then Ctrl/right-click over the style’s name in the Layers palette and select Create Layer. Now you can use the Transform commands, such as Distort, to reshape the shadow so it fits better under the subject.

3. Move an inner shadow

Did you know that an Inner Shadow can be positioned simply by dragging it with your mouse? This removes any guesswork, making it much easier for you to get the perfect Angle and Distance settings without having to tweak each slider in the Layer Style menu.

4. Efficient styles

This small option makes applying layer styles much quicker. The Make Default button under each style in the Layer Style menu will remember your preferred settings. If there are specific colours or sizes that you like, they can be saved for application rom the menu.

5. Reset styles

It’s easy to get carried away with layer styles! If you get to the point of no return then just hover over the Cancel button and hold Opt/Alt. You’ll see it change to Reset instead, so you can start afresh.

6. Copy styles

To duplicate a style applied to one layer onto another Ctrl/right-click over the style in the Layers palette and choose the Copy Layer Styles option. Then Ctrl/right-click over another layer and select Paste Layer Styles to instantly duplicate the effects used.

7. Save styles

After creating a bundle of layer styles, save them out to the Styles palette by pressing the New Style button in the Layer Style menu, Head over to Window>Styles to find your newly saved ones at the bottom, ready to re-apply instantly,

8. CS6+ secret

This one is only available in CS6+. To close all of the layer styles in your Layer palette in one go, hold down Opt/Alt and click on the drop-down arrow. Notice how each of the open lists close down in an instant.

9. Blend If

The Blend If sliders inside the Layer Style menu (under Blending Options at the top) enable the style to be applied only to certain areas of the image. Blend If targets the highlights, shadows or midtones, and by shifting the sliders around you can focus the effect on just one part of your image.

10. Apply texture

Layer styles are handy for applying texture to a painting. Under Bevel & Emboss, select Texture and load up the Pattern that you want to use. Increase the Scale slider to reduce repeating pixels. This is also where you can find your own texture files, or any you’ve downloaded from the web.

  • Eleanor

    Since all of us may not have the version of PS that you are using, it would be helpful if the version used was noted!