Easy-to-follow video tutorials help you learn software, creative, and business skills.Become a member
In this chapter, I hope to give you a deep and abiding appreciation for the wide world of effects that you can achieve using layer effects and styles here inside of Photoshop. And the analogy that I draw is to the other big effects feature inside the software which, is the Filter menu right here. So, for example, I am working inside this document called Word processor.psd found inside the 21_layer_FX folder. So called because I have created a kind of primitive Word processor document here, and it's a three-layer composition, beginning with this wood photograph, captured by Carl Durocher of the Fotolia image library, and let's say I want to assign an effect to this wood photo.
I might go up to the Filter menu, and I might jump down here to the Artistic submenu because after all, yes, I want an artistic effect and my optimism increases as I see Fresco. That would be amazing if I could make this wood look like it was painted in wet plaster. That would be perfect. So I will go ahead and choose Fresco, and it brings up the Filter gallery right here and I see, gosh, I have no idea what, over here in the left-hand preview.
But undaunted, I move forward, and I might sort of fiddle around with these numerical options, or I might just click OK and cross my fingers and hope for the best and no way would I see this coming in a million years. All we have is this dark mess of an effect here. It doesn't look anything like Fresco, and I certainly don't want to have anything to do with it. So I will press Ctrl+Z, Cmd+Z on the Mac, to undo that effect. Well, my take on creative filtering is that, if nothing else, it requires an awful lot of patience, and I was telling you that my favorite filters are those like the ones under the Sharpen submenu that look for edges inside of an image and these include, Unsharp Mask and Smart Sharpen and Gaussian Blur and Median, and Reduce Noise and all those other filters to which I have assigned keyboard shortcuts.
And when I say that they're looking for edges, they are looking for areas of rapid luminance transition. Well, by the same token, layer effects are also looking for edges. However, instead of looking for luminance, because they don't pay much attention to the luminance inside of a layer, rather they're paying attention to opacity. So I'll go ahead and click on this text layer which is not too inspiring at this point, fairly lackluster. I will go down here to the fx icon which is where you apply all of your layer effects, and I'll go ahead and click on that icon and I see a list of ten effects in all.
We have two shadows, so called because they can be glows, if you want. We have two glows also so called because they can be shadows, if you like as well. We have Bevel and Emboss, which allows you to apply essentially glows and shadows to a layer. Then we have got the least successful of the bunch. I have to acknowledge that there is one layer effect that's not really all that great, and that's Satin, and then we have three overlay effects, which allow you to create colors inside of a layer, and then we have Stroke which allows you to create an outline around the layer.
Now, all of these effects are looking for edges in the layer as I was saying. But these are edges between the opacity of the layer and the transparency of the layer. So basically, you're going to wrap an effect around the boundary of your text, or your shape layers or any pixel- based layer inside of Photoshop. Now, the most common kind of layer effect out there is Drop Shadow, and I think this is the reason, I think drop shadow single-handedly makes a lot of folks sort of dismiss layer effects out of hand, because Drop Shadow tend to be fairly routinely maligned and for good reason given the way that most folks apply them which is like so.
I'll go ahead and choose Drop Shadow here, and let's say I want to offset my text from its background. I might go down to the Distance value because I want to increase the distance between the Drop Shadow and the text. So I will go ahead and press Shift+ Up Arrow to increase it to 15 pixels. Then I'll tab my way past Spread, because who knows what the heck that thing is doing, and I will go down to Size, which should be called Blur, it seems like, if you're new to the effect, and I will go ahead and take that up to 15 pixels as well. So it matches the Distance value, because having identical Distance and Size values seems to work out for most drop shadows, and then I might take the Opacity value down a little bit to, let's say, 55% because I'm using Shift+Up Arrow and Down Arrow in order to change these values.
And I end up getting a reasonable amount of offset between my text layer right here, and its background and certainly, the text is more legible. So what the heck? I will go ahead and click OK in order to apply that modification and if I'm really feeling ambitious, I might change the blend mode from Normal to something like Screen and gosh, I get a heck of an effect right here. Based on my experience with watching people work inside of Photoshop, that's about as deep as most people get into layer effects, but you have to bear this in mind.
Even though that's a pretty routine application of a layer effect, first of all, used to be in the old days before we had layer effects, Drop Shadows were actually quite hard to create. They were 5 to 10-minute operations, because you had to create them manually. Also, if you double-click on Drop Shadow right there, you can modify any setting you've applied so the entire affair is parametric; it's very quick, it's low impact, it doesn't add much of anything to the file size, and there are tons and tons and tons of options here inside this layer style dialog box.
This one dialog box houses every single layer effect and in fact offers more options than any other dialog box inside of Photoshop, and most, if not all of them, are exceedingly practical. All right, so there's your everyday average drop shadow, neither amazing nor inspiring. However, I think of we apply a little creative energy here, there is plenty of amazement and inspiration to go around as we'll begin to see in the next exercise.
Get unlimited access to all courses for just $25/month.Become a member
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.