Easy-to-follow video tutorials help you learn software, creative, and business skills.Become a member
Layer styles are special effects like Drop Shadows or Bevel and Embosses or Inner Shadows that are applied to one layer at a time and that affect the edge between the content and transparent pixels on that layer. Many of the layer styles that come with Elements add some dimension to an image. Getting part of the image up off the page. In this case, I'd like to use a layer style to create a framed look around this photo. So, the first step is to add some transparent pixels to the single layer in this photo.
In the Layers panel, you can see that the single layer is a special background layer that comes with a lock on it. I'm going to change this to a regular layer by double-clicking the Background layer name here. I'll give the layer a name. I'll call it car, and I'll click OK, and now it's a regular layer, and so one thing I can do to this layer is to expand the canvas around it, adding some transparent pixels. I could do that using the Image > Resize Canvas Size command that I covered in an earlier chapter. But there's an alternative way to do that that's even faster and that's to use the Crop tool to add some Canvas around an image.
Before I do that, I'm going to expand the document window. So that I can see the entire photo. I'll click in the bottom-right corner of the document window, and I'll drag. Now this gray area that you see out here is just part of the document window. It's not part of the image. I'm going to select the Crop tool in the toolbox. I'll go up to the Options bar, and make sure that all the settings are null; in other words that there's no restriction on Aspect Ratio and there's nothing in the Width, Height and Resolution fields. Then I'm going to come into the image and I'll click-and-drag outside the top-left corner, and drag diagonally outside the bottom-right corner, and then I'll release my mouse.
And that creates the Crop bounding box around the entire photograph. Now what I want to do is make that bounding box bigger than the photograph, because I want to add to the size of the photograph. So I am going to move my mouse over one of these corner anchor points. I'm going to hold down two Modifier keys, the Shift key to constrain and the Alt key to grow this bounding box from the center-outward, then I'm going to click-and-drag diagonally. And that expands the bounding box on all sides of the image. And I'll release my mouse and those modifier keys.
Now, I can tweak this bounding box by clicking on any of the anchor points and dragging, so I can make the bottom a little longer if I wanted to, maybe the top as well. And when I'm done I'll click the green check mark here to apply the crop. As you can see, that has added transparent pixels around the photograph and those transparent pixels are now part of the image. They're located on the Car layer. I'm going to add another layer underneath the car layer, just from some background color down there. So I'll go to the Layers panel.
I could create a new layer above the selected car layer by just clicking the Create New Layer icon at the bottom of the Layers panel, and then I could drag that new layer beneath the car layer. But I can do that all in one step by holding down the Ctrl key as I click on the Create New Layer icon, and that's a shortcut that tells Elements to make a new layer beneath the selected layer. I'm going to rename the new layer by double-clicking its default layer name. I'll call this one bg for background, and I'll press Enter on the keyboard. And now I want to fill that layer with paint.
I have the layer selected in the Layers panel and I'm going up to the Edit menu, I'll go to Fill Layer, and I'm going to fill using White. I'll click OK. So, now that entire background layer is filled with white, and it looks like a frame here, because the photo on the car layer is covering part of the background layer. But just to remind you of that, I'm going to turn the eye icon off on the bg layer. You can see that the car layer above has just the car and the transparent pixels. So, I'm going to be able to put a layer style on the edge of the car photo on the car layer.
I'll turn the bg layer back on and I'm going to select the car layer and then finally, I'm going to add a layer style. I'll up to the Effects panel. If yours isn't open, you can open it from the Window menu at the top of the screen. I'm going to click this second icon and that reveals a number of thumbnail images, each of which represents a different flavor of a Bevel layer style. I'm going to click on the first Bevel layer style and then I'm going to click the Apply button at the bottom of Effects panel. And you can see the results here in the Layers panel. There is now beveled edge around the photo between the content of the car layer, and the transparent pixels on the car layer.
Now let's say I wanted to try a different layer style. Well if I added another layer style at this point, it wouldn't replace the bevel. It would just be cumulative, so there would be multiple layer styles on the car layer. So, I'm going to delete the current layer style by going up to the Undo button at the top of the screen and pressing Undo. Now and this is important. I have to select the car layer again, because I want to add another layer style to the car layer and this time I'm going to go up to the Category menu here in the Effects panel and I'm going to choose a different category of layer style.
I am going to choose Inner Shadows, I'll click on the Low Inner Shadow style, and I'll click Apply and that adds this subtle inner shadow around the photo making it look as if it's pressed back into the white frame. I mentioned that layer styles are cumulative, so I can add another layer style in addition to this Inner Shadow layer style. I'll go to the back to the Categories menu in the Effects panel and I'll choose the Strokes category of layer style and then I'm going to click on the second Black Stroke icon and click Apply.
So, now I have not only the Inner Shadow but also a Black Stroke around the photo on the car layer. And once again, I'm going to turn off the bg layer by clicking its eye icon. So you can see that those effects are on the car layer. And I'll turn the bg layer back on for you. I've shown you only a few of the many layer styles that are available in the Effects panel. I urge you to explore some of the other choices on your own. My favorites are the ones that add dimension like the Inner Shadow and the Drop Shadow, and Bevels and Glows.
Try using them to make a photo pop up off a frame like this.
Get unlimited access to all courses for just $25/month.Become a member
180 Video lessons · 66675 Viewers
64 Video lessons · 90569 Viewers
86 Video lessons · 59190 Viewers
103 Video lessons · 27670 Viewers
Access exercise files from a button right under the course name.
Search within course videos and transcripts, and jump right to the results.
Remove icons showing you already watched videos if you want to start over.
Make the video wide, narrow, full-screen, or pop the player out of the page into its own window.
Click on text in the transcript to jump to that spot in the video. As the video plays, the relevant spot in the transcript will be highlighted.