In Photoshop, you can change the look of a layer directly by changing its style. For example, you can give it a drop shadow, make it glow, or make text look 3D. The possibilities are endless! Most importantly, you can save your customization, creating a library of text effects that can be applied later to any other layer in any file.
In this tutorial, I will show you what exactly layer styles are and how to use them.
You can access the Layer Style options by right-clicking the layer and selecting Blending Options. You can also double-click the layer. Let’s take a look at these options one by one.
Bevel & Emboss
Bevel & Emboss makes the text look 3D. The effect may look harsh and outdated at first, but there are many settings that you can adjust to create something more subtle. You can also add a contour and a 3D texture here.
If you need to add a stroke to your text, you can do it here as well. It’s also possible to use a gradient or pattern as a stroke.
Inner Shadow, as the name implies, is a shadow that gets placed inside the text, creating a 3D effect.
Inner glow makes the letters glow from the inside.
Satin is a very powerful effect. It adds a little randomness to the surface, breaking its unnatural smoothness.
Color, Gradient, and Pattern Overlay
The panel allows you to fill the letters in three ways: with plain color, with gradient, and with a pattern.
Finally, you can make the text glow by adding an Outer Glow…
… and put a shadow under the letters.
How to Use Layer Styles
But this was just a quick overview. Let’s see how you can use these options to create a metal effect.
Create a New File with these dimensions:
Use the Paint Bucket Tool (G) to fill the background with black.
Type some text in a big, bold font. The color of the text doesn’t matter.
Right-click the text layer and select Blending Options, or alternatively double-click the layer.
First, drag the Fill Opacity down to 0. This will allow us to control the color fully within the layer style.
Let’s use with Pattern Overlay first to fill the text with some texture. You can use one of the default patterns or upload your own. Adjust the Scale and lower the Opacity to make the pattern darker.
The three types of Overlay can be mixed for a more interesting result. Check Gradient Overlay and change its Blend Mode to Overlay to make the pattern visible under it. Change the gradient to something more subtle, and switch the Style to Reflected. If you Reverse it, you’ll get a nice metallic shine.
Add an Outer Glow now. Use white and make the glow wide and full of Noise. It may look pretty dramatic, but if you lower the Opacity, it creates a nice, subtle background.
Let’s give the letters a subtle 3D look. If you don’t like the heavy effect of Bevel & Emboss, you can use a workaround. Check Inner Glow to add a thin white outline inside the letters. This will simulate an illuminated edge.
Add an Inner Shadow now for some balance. Adjust the Angle to simulate a shadowed edge with it.
Let’s add a Stroke, too, to accentuate the letters some more.
Finally, let’s add Satin to our style. Change its Blend Mode to Overlay to keep the letters fully visible, and then play with the settings to add a little randomness to the shine.
If you press OK, you’ll see a lot of options have been added to the layer. These options can be saved in the form of a Layer Style. Just open the Styles panel and click the white card icon to create a New Style. Now you can add the same style to any object, whether it’s new text or a shape.
Download Ready Layer Styles
Watercolor Text Effect
Because Layer Styles can be saved and applied so easily, you can also easily use styles created by other people. You can apply an interesting effect to your text without having to experiment with all these options.
For example, this set contains 15 watercolor effects. You just have to select your layer and click the style that you want to apply. Of course, you can still customize the effect afterwards.
Shiny Text Effect
This set contains gold and shiny effects that will make your text sparkle. They’re perfect for a poster or a flyer, immediately bringing attention to the text. Again, you don’t need to know how to achieve such a result—just click the style to apply it.
Engraved Text Effect
This set lets you achieve a unique engraving effect. It creates proper edges and adds the characteristic inner shadow to give an impression of the text being engraved in some material, depending on the background you use. Of course, it can be used not only for text, but also for logos and images.
Mixed Text Effect
And here’s a very universal set containing a mix of 33 styles. This set has it all: fabric, leather, jeans, gold, rainbow, chrome, wood—basically anything you can think of. It can be used for many applications, saving you a lot of time along the way.
You now know how to add layer styles to text and shapes. If you want to learn more about layer styles, you’ll love these tutorials as well: