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One way to work with Photoshop layer styles in After Effects is to import a Photoshop file that already has layer styles applied. Just remember to import it as a composition, so that you get access to the components to make it up and the layer styles that applied to those components. However, you can apply layer styles to your own layers inside After Effects directly without having to go through Photoshop. If you have this lesson's exercise files, open up Comp 11-Layer Styles*starter. Here we've started on what could be a DVD or a website user interface design.
A still image, a little bit of text in the background and a startup of some buttons. These buttons frankly look a little bit flat. We'd like to make them look far more interesting and more dimensional. To do that, we'll use layer styles. Quite often, layer styles are more powerful than their corresponding effect counterparts. To start, press this first button. It was created using shape layers, which we discussed in a different lesson. Let's say I want to give it some dimension. Rather than apply Effect > Perspective > Bevel Alpha, instead I want to try Layer > Layer Styles > Bevel and Emboss.
Layer Styles exist underneath the Layer menu, not the Effect menu. Choose Bevel and Emboss and I got initially a nice little bevel not too different from using the bevel alpha effect. However, there's a lot of extra power underneath the hood. I'll go down to Bevel and Emboss in the Timeline panel and twirl it open. I have a lot more parameters to play with here than I do inside the corresponding Adobe effect. For example, I have many different styles for Bevel and Emboss. Inner Bevel is the default, but Outer Bevel makes it look like it's raised up from the surface of the image.
Emboss makes it look like it's been punched through a little bit, but particularly different is something like Pillow Emboss. This is something where it's been pushed in and then pulled back out of the surface and it's hard to see what's going on. Just increase the size. Now you're seeing a much stronger effect. I can try different techniques like Chisel Hard to give a harder edge there. In this case, I might want the smaller size or switch it back to Smooth and I can keep playing around with creating different looks.
Inner Bevel is back to where I've started, but the size is going to really soften this button up to be more like a pill capsule rather than just a beveled button and there are other parameters as well including blending modes which we played around with earlier in this lesson. There are lots more layer styles I can play with. For example, if I wanted this button to float off the surface of that photo rather than seeming to be integrated into it, I might also apply Layer > Layer Styles > Drop Shadow. Again, there is an Adobe effect called Drop Shadow, but there are far more parameters to work with in the layer style called Drop Shadow.
You can create far more subtle effects. A good distance here, the sizes will really soften to just a glow, increase the Opacity, play with the mode and indeed Adobe says that layer styles work more like blending modes than normal effects. Maybe something like Overlay so it interacts more with the photo underneath. Again, if you hit upon a look that you like, you can select layer styles, just like you selected effects and save an animation preset of your layer styles.
There're only a limited number of layer styles. It tends to be a glow and dimension sort of look, but if these are the sort of looks that you like, I highly recommend that you explore them in a lot more depth.
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