LAYER EFFECTS EXPLAINED

Photoshop is easier than a lot of people might think, it is a tool that allows you to achieve great results using very basic methods. In this tutorial, I will be explaining Layer Styles/Blending Options and I will be demonstrating examples for each. Note this tutorial assumes only a very basic understanding of layers and some simple tools in PS, all of which can be learned with the help file that comes packaged with photoshop.

 

 

 

Quick Links:

1. Drop Shadow
2. Inner Shadow
3. Outer Glow
4. Inner Glow
5. Bevel and Emboss

 

First of all, create an image (File > New) with the following attributes:



New Image for Layer Effects
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Now using the Horizontal Type Tool (T), write what ever you want, I will be using Learn2Photoshop for this example, but you may you images or alternate text if you feel comfortable.

learn2photoshop type tool
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To add Layer Styles, just click Layer> Layer Style > Blending Options. This will take you to a pop up screen, now don't be intimidated by all the text, scroll boxes and sliders, this is actually a very simple screen to understand. On the left, under Styles tab: Blending Options: Default, you find all the layer styles, pretty much self explanitory. In the midle of the screen, we have the options for the style you currently have selected and on the right, you have the preview.

1.Drop Shadow

This is basicly as the name says, a way to have your layer project shadow. There are a few options I will be explaining. First off, we have the Blend Mode, unless you understand this, don't bother and leave it at Multiply, it's just a way to change how the shadow is displayed on other layers, I will explain Blend Modes in another tutorial. Secondly, the Color Box, just click on the small box besides Blend Mode and select the color you want your shadow to cast.
Once you're done with that, go down to the Opacity Slider, this allows you to choose the transparency of the shadow, 0% being competly transparent and 100% being completly opaque.
We move down once more to the Angle option. This determines the angle which the light comes from to cast your shadow. Check Use Global Light if you have more than one Blending Options and you want the light from all your styles to come from the same source.
The Distance slider is the distance from the object the shadow is being cast on (In this case the background) from the object projecting the shadow (the text). Adding distance will give you more depth.
Spread is the thickness of the shadow being projected, not much to explain here, it's mostly an option you have to go through trial and error to understand fully.
The Size option determines how sharp the shadow is. A size of 0 or 1 will project a very sharp shadow contrarly to a size 30px that will make a very blury shadow.
The Contour tab gives you many options on how you want the shadow contour to be displayed, feel free to try experiment with this, but I will not be explaining.

 

Here is what I achieved using the drop shadow style:
Photoshop Drop shadow
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Using the following attributes:

2. Inner Shadow

I won't take the time to rewrite everything for Inner Shadow since it contains the exact same attributes than the Drop Shadow Tool. This tool is very similar to Drop Shadow exept the shadow is projected inside the object and what ever is outside the object is what is projecting the shadow.
The only attribute that changes in this is Choke, this has the same propreties as Spread from Drop Shadow, is just determines the thickness of the shadow being projected.

Photoshop Drop shadow
(Click the image to Enlarge)

 

3.Outer Glow

This is a great style that allows your layer to have a glow all around.
Blend Mode: Just leave as is unless you feel comfortable enough with the software to change it, you may experiment with it as you like.
Now for Opacity, like before, this determines the transparency of the glow.
We move down to Noise, this option determines how smooth the glow is, more noise ads more grain hence, less smooth. Noise is just the amount of pixelation, feel free to play with this option to understand it better.
Finaly for Stucture, we finish with the Color. You select either one color, or a gradient containting multiple colors. If you choose a gradient, just select the scroll down box and chose the gradient you prefer.
Now for the Elements, we start off with Technique, you may chose either Softer of Precise. Softer smooths out the glow to make it look more realistic and Precise just makes it exacly as you chose the options with no distortion.
Spread, like in other styles is just the boldness of the glow, a higher spread will give our a stronger, bolder, thicker glow.
We can finish off Elements with Size. Again, like in the other styles, Size determines the Size and Bluriness of the glow.
I won't be going much into detail for Quality, but you can experiment with the contour options which allows you to make "neon glow" effects and more.

Photoshop Glow Effect
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I achieved this effect with the following attributes:

4.Inner Glow

Yet again another tool that ressembles another. This tool is basicly the exact same as the Outer Glow tool so reffer to that to know more. The only options that change are Choke and Source. Choke simply replaces Spread from Outer Glow.
A new option here is Source. You can choose from either Center or Edge, it determines whether the glow comes from the Edge to inside or from the Center and out.

For the rest, just reffer to Outer Glow for explanation of the attribute.

 

Results:

(Click the image to Enlarge)

 

5.Bevel and Emboss

: This is a great style that gives out an amazing effect if used proprely and it's very easy to use.
First off, we have to determine the Style, you can choose from either Outer Bevel, which has the object going outwards, you can choose inner bevel, like the example bellow, the object is embedded inside. There is also Emboss which like the name states has the lettering embossed out. Finaly, we'll finish with Pillow Emboss, this ressembles emboss exept there is a beveled edge on the outer ring of the object.

Under style, you will find the Techinique window. The attributes are self-explanitory, you can either choose smooth, for a smooth bevel, chisel hard for a very sharp and bold bevel or chisel soft for a sharp yet smooth bevel.

The depth, again is self explanitory, it's the distance that the object comes out of the background. So, if you were to look at it from a side view, the depth would be the height of the 3d object, in this case 3d text.

Size is diffrent for each technique, but in general, it is the amount of material that will be affected by the style. If you make it too high, you simply won't see anything but the top surface of the 3d object hence making it invisible, and if you make it too low, you simply won't see any effect at all. In the case of pillow emboss, size determines the size of the "crater" caused by the text.

Soften is just an attribute to add softness to your texture and make it less jagged if you chose a technique such as Chisel Hard. Use this wizely, using a Smooth Technique and having a high soften will make your image a big blur.

Now for shading. As I explained earlier, the Angle is the direction in which the light is comming from, it determines where the highlights and the shadows will be, because they are all reletive to each other. Using a global light will just insure that all the lighting for all your Styles comes from the same source so they all agree with each other.

Finaly, Gloss Contour, a very fun option to use. It adds curves to the shading allowing you to make reflective effects. This is a tool that you should experiment with yourself to achieve best results.

You may have noticed that the Bevel and Emboss tab contain two sub tabs. Contour and Texture. Contour here, ressembles glossy contour, but instead of adding curves to the shading, it adds curves to the physical object adding a diffrent shape to the bevel. We will end this style by explaining the Texture Sub Tab. It's quite simple, you may add a texture to the object to give it physical depths. So let's say you would like rocky text, you choose a rock texture and this will make it as if there were texture on the text and it will be affected by the global light source which can give it depth.

 

An example of Bevel Emboss using Inner Bevel and a glossy Contour:

(Click the image to Enlarge)