Layer Styles

First of all, Happy Valentine’s Day to everyone out there.  Hope you are spending the day wisely.  In our multi-layered discussions so far, we have only begun to scratch the top layer of the topic.  Today we are going to discuss some of the ways you can add some special effects directly to the layers which change the appearance of the objects on that layer.  Down at the bottom of the layers palate you’ll see a little fx and a small down arrow.  Clicking on it opens the Layer style menu.  On the left you will see the different effects you can apply; ranging from a drop shadow all the way down to Stroke.  Each Option has a range of options you can customize and control.  The preview lets you instantly see what the change will look like when you apply it.   To demonstrate this, I’ve created a simple document with the exact same blue square in each quadrant.  I will use the Bevel and Emboss choice and apply a few options.  First of all I checked the Pillow Emboss box and played with the sliders.  I adjusted the depth to 348%  in the up direction and softened the edges until I got something I liked.

Starting back with the same exact shape, I then selected the Bevel and Emboss.  This looks like 90% of software buttons you will see on programs.  The options are similar here but the results are totally different.

There are other controls which can be selected as well.  You have the choice of what kind of contour you want the shape to take.  Here is a fairly hard edged one.  You also have the ability to change the direction and shape of the light, but that is another lesson entirely.  As you can see, just this one menu selection transforms your image completely. 

I recommend you create a simple shape on a layer and just click through the tools to see what they do.  They can be combined and best of all you can go back and change them later just by going back to the layers palate and clicking on the effects icon underneath the layer you want to change.