Apply a Layer Style in Photoshop CS5 - dummies

By Jennifer Smith, Christopher Smith, Fred Gerantabee

You can apply Photoshop Creative Suite 5 layer styles to layers to create drop shadows and bevel and emboss effects and to apply color overlays, gradients, patterns and strokes, and more.

To apply a layer style (for example, the drop shadow style, one of the most popular effects) to an image, follow these steps:

  1. Create a layer on any image.

    For example, you can create a text layer to see the effects of the layer styles.

  2. With the layer selected, click and hold the Add a layer Style button at the bottom of the Layers panel; from the menu options, choose Drop Shadow.

    In the Layer Style dialog box that appears, you can choose to change the blending mode, color, distance spread, and size of a drop shadow. You should see that the style has already applied to your text. Position the cursor on the image area and drag to visually adjust the position of the drop shadow.

  3. When you’re happy with the drop shadow, click OK to apply it.

To apply another effect and change its options, click and hold the Layer Style button in the Layers panel and choose the name of the layer style from the menu that appears. In the dialog box that appears, change the settings to customize the layer style and click OK to apply it to your image.

For example, if you choose Bevel and Emboss from the Layer Styles menu, you can choose from several emboss styles and adjust the depth, size, and softness.

Here are some consistent items you see in the Layer Style dialog box, no matter which effect you choose:

  • Contour: Use contours to control the shape and appearance of an effect. Click the arrow to open the Contour fly-out menu to choose a contour preset or click the contour preview to open the Contour Editor and create your own edge.

  • Angle: Drag the cross hair in the angle circle or enter a value in the Angle text field to control where the light source comes from.

  • Global light: If you aren’t smart about lighting effects on multiple objects, global light makes it seem as though you are. Select the Use Global Light check box to keep the angle consistent from one layer style to another.

  • Color: Whenever you see a color box, you can click it to select a color. This color can be for the drop shadow, highlight, or shadow of an emboss, or for a color overlay.