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Chapter Twelve. Layers > Layer Styles

Layer Styles

Q1:What is a layer style?
A1: A layer style adds an effect, such as a drop shadow, to all the pixels on a layer. One of the biggest advantages of using these effects is that the effect will automatically “update” as soon as you change the pixels on the layer. On a Type layer, for example, a Drop Shadow effect would automatically adjust if you change the font, size, etc.
Q2:Why can't I add a layer style to a Background layer?
A2: By default, the Background layer is locked so you cannot change Opacity or add layer effects. Double-click on the Background layer's name to change its name in the New Layer dialog. Now you can change Opacity, but you still won't be able to see any edge effects you would add (such as Stroke, Drop Shadow, etc.) until you select and delete parts of the background image (or transform it to make it smaller by choosing Edit>Free Transform) to make the edges visible onscreen.
Q3:How do I add a shadow to a transparent layer? I've seen a cool effect that has a logo with a drop shadow, except that the logo is transparent. How do I add a drop shadow to something that's invisible?


A3: The simplest way is to choose Drop Shadow from the Add a Layer Style pop-up menu at the bottom of the Layers palette, and then change the Fill (not the Opacity) to 0%. This will make the contents of the layer transparent but preserve the layer style.
Q4:How do I copy layer styles from one layer to another? I love the look of the layer styles I've created and I'd like to use them on another layer. How do I do that?

A4: Very simple—just hold down Option (PC: Alt) as you click-and-drag the Layer Effects icon (it looks like the letter “ƒ”) onto a different layer (or the individual styles themselves can be dragged—just double-click on the icon to show all the effects and Option/Alt-drag styles).
Q5:How do I apply a layer style to multiple layers at once? Can I apply a layer style from one layer to a number of layers without copying-and-pasting to each layer?
A5: Control-click (PC: Right-click) on the layer's name with the style you want to copy and choose Copy Layer Style from the contextual menu that appears. Now select the other layers, and then Control-click (PC: Right-click) on one of the selected layers and choose Paste Layer Style. (Note: This also copies any Opacity or Fill settings you've applied.)
Q6:Why can't I apply a layer style to a clipping mask? I have created a layer clipping mask with a Type layer and a photo. When I try to add a layer style, nothing seems to happen. Any ideas?
A6: Chances are that you have added the layer style to the “wrong” layer. In this case, the Type layer is the one doing the “clipping,” so that's the layer to which you should apply the layer style. If you add a layer style to the photo that's being clipped, the effect will not be noticeable.
Q7:How do I add a stroke to my type? I'd like to add a stroke to my type but still be able to edit the type. Is that possible?
A7: Yes, as long you do not use the Edit>Stroke command (because you must make a selection and create a new pixel-based layer to do that). Instead use Stroke from the Add a Layer Style pop-up menu, where you can change any setting you want and still edit the type.
Q8:Is it possible to put a layer style on its own layer? I added a drop shadow (using the Add a Layer Style pop-up menu), but now I'd like to manipulate it. Is there a way to put the shadow on its own layer?

A8: With the layer active, go to the Layer menu, to Layer Style, and choose Create Layer. This will result in a new layer that contains just the drop shadow. Note: Some effects cannot be placed on a separate layer, and you might get a warning dialog telling you just that. If the dialog appears, just click OK and your drop shadow will be on its own layer, though you may lose other styles you added.
Q9:How do I create a cast shadow? I can create a nice drop shadow (with the Add a Layer Style pop-up menu), but how do I make that shadow have some perspective, like a cast shadow?
A9: You'll have the best results if you put the shadow on a layer by itself (see previous question), then use the Edit>Transform>Perspective command to add perspective (just click-and-drag the corners of the bounding box to create the cast shadow).
Q10:How do I change the color of a drop shadow? When I add a layer effect (style), the drop shadow is always black. How do I change the shadow color?

A10: Double-click on the Layer Effects icon to the right of your layer (it looks like the letter “ƒ”), and click on the Drop Shadow option in the Styles list along the left side of the dialog. In the Drop Shadow options, you'll see a black swatch (beside the Blend Mode pop-up menu). Click on that swatch to open the Color Picker and choose any color. Note: With the Color Picker open, you can also move your mouse away from the Color Picker and you'll get an Eyedropper. Use this to pick a color from your image, the Swatches palette, or anywhere else you can see color.
Q11:How do I know what angle to use for drop shadows? I'm never very good at deciding what angle to use for shadows. Besides moving the Angle indicator in the Layer Style dialog, is there any other way I can alter my shadow?
A11: With the Layer Styles dialog open (either double-click on the Layer Effects icon next to your layer and click on Drop Shadow or choose Layer>Layer Style>Drop Shadow), move your mouse to the image (outside the dialog) and your cursor will change to the Move tool. Now click-and-drag to not only affect the Angle setting of the shadow but also the Distance. This way you can experiment visually with the shadow.
Q12:Is there a quick way to remove all styles from a layer?
A12: Control-click (PC: Right-click) on the Layer Effects icon (it looks like the letter “ƒ”) and from the contextual menu, choose Clear Layer Style.
Q13:How do I create (save) my own layer style?

A13: Once you have come up with a look you like by combining various layer effects (Layer>Layer Style), you can save that as a style. First, select the layer with the style you want from the Layers palette. Then, go to the Styles palette (Window>Styles) and from the palette's flyout menu choose New Style. Name it (if you wish) in the resulting dialog (and ensure Include Layer Effects is selected) and click OK. It will be added to the Styles palette.
Q14:Can I change the default color for the Stroke layer style?
A14: Unfortunately not. The only option would be to create (and save) a layer style in the color you want (see previous question), and use that style by clicking on it in the Styles palette (Window>Styles) rather than using the Add a Layer Style pop-up menu to apply the Stroke.



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