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Most people think that layer styles are just for adding simple drop shadows and inner glows to text and photos, but they are really much more powerful than that. Let's take a look at what we can do with just a few simple changes to the defaults. Now in order to add an effect to this document, I need to double-click on the Background in order to change the background into a layer. So I will just call this Photo and then click OK. Now the first effect that I want to add is an Inner Glow, and that's going to allow me to add an edge effect.
I am going to change the color of the Inner Glow from yellow to white and then I am going to increase the Size so that it moves into the image. We can add a wider edge by moving over the Choke slider and we can set it to pure white at the edge by moving the Opacity up to 100%. I also want to add a subtle texture overlay. So I am going to move to Pattern Overlay. Now by default, we get this kind of odd bubbly pattern. I want to change that by clicking on the downward-pointing arrow here.
You will notice there are a few different patterns that we can choose from. But when we add these patterns, do you notice that the patterns are set to 100% Opacity in Normal mode? Well, if I want to change the interaction between this pattern and the photograph, I want to change the Blend mode maybe to something like Overlay, or I could change it to Multiply if I just want to take the darker values. I can also decrease the Opacity to make it much more subtle. Now I said that there were only a few textures that we could choose from here, but those are the ones that are loaded by default.
Photoshop also ships with all of these different textures that you can load. If for example, I choose Texture Fill and then choose to Append the textures because I wanted to add them to the originals, not replace them, I can then move through a variety of different textures that I can use. So maybe I will choose this Burlap option, and then again, change the Opacity down and make it a little more subtle. Maybe I want to change the Scale a bit as well. You can see when I brought the Scale down we can no longer see that repeating pattern.
Finally, I might want to add a color wash so I will click on Gradient Overlay. Again by default, the Blend mode is set to Normal and the Opacity is set to 100%, so I can't see through the gradient. We are going to change the Blend mode down the Color so that I can see through the gradient to the photograph behind it, and then I will create my own gradient by clicking anywhere in the gradient here and then using the Gradient Editor. I like a two-color gradient and of course, I could select any of the gradients here that are preset.
I will go ahead and choose the red-to-green just as a starting point and then double-click on the Color Stop on the lower left. That brings up the Color Picker. I am going to choose a brown color here. I am going to make it not really oversaturated but just a pleasing color to me. Click OK. And then I will double-click on the other color, move this up towards the blues, again, just desaturate it a bit, and click OK. Now if I think I am going to use this gradient again, I will click the New button and that will save it as one of my presets.
I will click OK, and now if I think that that's too overdone where we can only see the gradient color wash on top and I want to bring back some of the color from underneath, then I can decrease my Opacity slider. Now if I like this combination of different layer effects, the Pattern Overlay, the Gradient Overlay and the Inner Glow, I will click on Styles and then click New Style to add this as a style. Let's rename this to Edge, Texture and Color Wash.
I will click OK. Not only does that save that as a part of my Styles in the Layer Style dialog, but if I click OK and we move to my Styles panel, you can see that that style is now saved right here. That means that if I want to apply the same style to another image, we can simply select that image, double-click on the background, and rename it so that it's no longer a background layer but it's just a regular layer, and then click on this style in my Styles panel to apply it.
So there you have it, a completely non-destructive and re-editable way to add an effect to your image in Photoshop CS6.
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