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Photoshop has become an indispensible tool for photographers, designers, and all other creative professionals, as well as students. Photoshop CS4 Essential Training teaches a broad spectrum of core skills that are common to many creative fields: working with layers and selections; adjusting, manipulating, and retouching photos; painting; adding text; automating; preparing files for output; and more. Instructor Jan Kabili demonstrates established techniques as well as those made possible by some of the new features unique to Photoshop CS4. This course is indispensable to those who are new to the application, just learning this version, or expanding their skills. Example files accompany the course.
When you want to add a little bit of dimension, or a little definition to the content of a layer, try Layer Styles. Layer Styles are common special effects like Drop Shadow, Glow, Inner Shadow, Stroke and a few more. In this movie, I am going to introduce you to Layer Styles and show you how to add a Stroke Layer Style to this photograph to define this edge here that's bleeding into the white matte behind. Take a look at the Layers panel and you see that I have just two layers in the file. If I turn the top layer off by clicking its eye icon, you can see that the matte layer here is just a plain white layer, and I will turn the eye icon on the photo layer on again, so you can see the photo above.
I'll turn the matte layer off so you can see that the photo layer actually has some transparency around it. That's allowing you to see through to the matte below. I have set it up this way so I can easily add a layer style that affects just the photo. I will turn the matte layer back on and I'll make sure the photo layer is selected, and then I'll go down to the bottom of the Layers panel and I am going to click fx. That brings up this menu of available Layer Styles. You can see that there is Drop Shadow and Inner Shadow, Outer Glow and so on.
I am going to go all the way down to the bottom and choose Stroke. That opens the very large Layer Style dialog box. In order to get the whole thing on screen, I am going to move it over to the right, so you won't be able to see this area over here. But that's all right, because that's just where I say OK when I am all done with this. Over on the left is a list of the available layer styles with the Stroke style highlighted. When a style is checked, that means that it's been applied to an image. When the style is highlighted, then you'll see options in the next column for that style only.
If you look in the image, you can see that stroke has already been applied with the default options that you see here. There are a few things I might change. For example, I am going to make this a little bigger, so you can see the stroke. To show you that its corners are rounded now. If I want to have sharp corners instead of round corners, I will go to the Position menu and from there I will choose Inside. When the stroke is on the inside, it gets sharp corners like that. And then I will change the size so the stroke is smaller again. There are other options here that I could change like the Opacity of the stroke, the Color of the stroke and so on.
But I am just going to leave it as it is and click OK to apply the layer style, because I want you to see what the Layers panel looks like now. Now there is an Effects sublayer on the photo layer with another sublayer below that for the Stroke effect. And if there were more effects applied, because you can have more than one layer style on a layer, they would appear here as more sublayers. If you have lots of styles on a layer, it can take up a lot of space in the Layers panel. So you can collapse all of the styles by going to the arrow to the right of fx here on the layer and clicking, and you'll always know that you have layer styles on a layer, because you'll see this icon.
One of the advantages of using layer styles over using something like filters for special effects is that layer styles remain editable. So if I want to reopen the Layer Styles dialog box and tweak this stroke, I can do that by double-clicking on the photo layer. That opens the Layer Style dialog box and I can go and select the stroke style over here to get the options for the stroke showing in the middle column, and then I could change any of these settings. So I might alter the size of the stroke a little, and then I will OK again.
If you decide you don't like an effect, you can always delete it, you can expand the effects on the layer, and then you can click the eye icon to the left of an effect to make it temporarily invisible, or you can always just drag it to the Trash Can down here to get rid of it permanently. I am not going to do that this time now. So that's an introduction to layer styles, which add that little extra something to layer content. They're quick to apply and they can be customized to your liking. They also have the advantage of being nondestructive of the image itself, because they live on sublayers that are separate from the affected layer.
And layer styles can be reopened at any time if you want to change them.
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