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Layer effects

Applying layer effects

The special effects that can be applied to a layer are as follows: Drop Shadow, Inner Shadow, Outer Glow, Inner Glow, Bevel and Emboss, Satin, Color Overlay, Gradient Overlay, Pattern Overlay, and Stroke. A layer effect (or effects) can be applied to any layer, even an editable type layer, and it can be turned on or off at any time. Layer effects automatically affect all opaque pixels on a layer, and will update if pixels are added, modified, or deleted from the layer.

TIP  Don't confuse styles and effects. A style is simply a combination of one or more layer effects.

Effects are applied and edited from one central, chock-full dialog box (the Layer Style dialog box shown in Figure 6), and they are displayed on the Layers palette as indented (nested) layers below the name of the layer to which they are applied. Effects are attached to, and move with, the main layer that they're applied to. Layer effects can't be applied to the Background of an image.

Figure 6

The Layer Style dialog box is used to apply layer effects.

Before we get into specific effects, here are some general pointers:

  • To apply an effect to a layer, double-click the layer name. In the Layer Style dialog box, click an effect name (don't just click the check box!), and choose settings for the effect. More than one effect can be applied to the same layer. Check the Preview box to preview the effect in the image window. You can also apply an effect by choosing a layer, and then choosing an effect from the Add layer style pop-up menu at the bottom of the Layers palette (see Figure 7).

  • Figure 7

    Choose an effect name from the Add layer style pop-up menu. A bullet next to an effect signifies that the effect is currently applied to the active layer. The same effects can also be chosen from the Layer menu > Layer Style submenu.

  • On the Layers palette, any layer to which a layer effect is currently applied will have an icon. Click the arrowhead next to the icon to view a list of the effects that are applied to that layer (see Figure 8). Each effect has its own hide/show eye icon.

Copy an effect from one layer to another Choose a layer that contains an effect or effects, choose Layer menu > Layer Style > Copy Layer Style, choose another layer, then choose Layer menu > Layer Style > Paste Layer Style.


Expand the effects list for a layer, then drag an individual effect name over another layer name or over another layer's Effects bar.


To copy multiple effects from one layer to another, expand the effects list for a layer, then drag the Effects bar over another layer name or another layer's Effects bar. The duplicated effect(s) will replace any existing effects on the destination layer.

  • To edit an existing layer effect (or add another one), double-click the icon; or double-click the effect name nested under the layer name; or choose an effect from the (Add layer style) pop-up menu at the bottom of the Layers palette.

  • To hide a layer effect, make sure the effects list for the layer in question is expanded, then click its eye icon. (Click in the same spot to redisplay the effect.)

  • To temporarily hide all effects from all layers and speed performance, choose Layer menu > Layer Style > Hide All Effects. Choose Show All Effects to redisplay them.

  • To remove an individual layer effect, double-click the layer name or the individual effect name on the Layers palette, then uncheck the box next to the effect name. Or drag the individual effect name over the Delete Layer (trash) button at the bottom of the Layers palette.

TIP  If you recheck an effect that was turned off or deleted, the last-used options for that effect will redisplay.

TIP  To clear all effects from the currently active layer, choose Layer menu > Layer Style > Clear Layer Style.

TIP  Alt/Option click Reset to restore the Layer Style dialog box to the settings it had when it was opened.

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