When it comes to text effects in Adobe Photoshop, the Layer Style dialog is where it’s at. The sheer volume of creative effects you’re able to apply to not only text, but to a wide array of other graphics, is overwhelming. It seems like this dialog has been available in this application forever and it’s one of the most popular places to go when you want to add pop and flavor to something. One of the most popular, that is, after you learn that it exists.
In today’s post, I’d like to introduce you to the Layer Style dialog in Photoshop. I’ll use a simple graphic with a few words in it to exemplify what I’d like to convey. I’ll demonstrate how I create the text and then I’ll show you how to access the dialog. Finally, I’ll show you how any applied layer effects affect the layer itself, in the Layers panel. This is an introductory post, but it should lead you down a path that can be very rewarding in the future. And by no means will this one post be all that I’ll share. There’s a lot more in the pipe when it comes to this topic.
Creating Some Text
The first task I’d like to complete is to create some text. At this point, it doesn’t matter what the text says, just that some exists. I already created a file that uses the dimensions of 700×466. Next, I’ll click on the Horizontal Type Tool over in the left toolbar to activate that tool.
I think I’ll create something that says, “TEXT Layer Effects.” The TEXT part will be in one layer and the Layer Effects part will be in another. I’ll type those two parts out and then head towards the Character panel to fine tune what I’ve done.
Primarily, I focused on the font, font size and tracking for this project. Here’s the result.
Now, if you’re brand new to Photoshop and have no idea how I did what I just did, don’t sweat it. As I said above, I will be writing about text until the cows come home. Trust me, there will be a lot more of this in the future. Photoshop is quite extensive (almost like a bottomless pit) when it comes to this particular area.
Adding Some Effects via the Layer Style Dialog
The best part about using layer styles in Photoshop is that they’re non-destructive. I’ll talk more about this later on. For right now, I’d like to jazz up this boring text. For the TEXT layer, I think I’ll change the color of the word to white as opposed to black, add a stroke around the letters and then add a simple-drop shadow. To do this, I’ll double-click on this layer in the Layers panel. I have to make sure not to click the thumbnail or the name of the layer. I’ll need to click on an empty area. After I do this, the Layer Style dialog will appear.
First, I’ll visit the Stroke effect section via the menu item over to the left.
I’ll adjust the Size, Position and Color attributes until they meet my needs.
Next, I’ll visit the Color Overlay section by clicking on another menu item in the left column.
Here, I’ll make sure the Blend Mode is set to Normal and then I’ll click the color square and make sure to choose White (#FFFFFF) as the new color.
Finally, I’ll visit the Drop Shadow section. As a reminder, just clicking on the menu item in the left column activates the effect. If that wasn’t intended, you’ll need to uncheck the check box for that item to deactivate it.
In this area, I’ll simply click on the Reset to Default button underneath all the attributes because the default setting usually offers a fairly decent shadow effect. I’d like to again reiterate that this is merely an introduction post to give you an idea of what’s in this dialog as well well as how to access it. I’ll talk about the specifics of each area in future posts.
Okay, once I’m finished with all that, I’ll click on the OK button and see what the result looks like. Also, if I were interested in seeing how things look in real time, I could check the Preview box that sits under the buttons in the upper right corner.
Here’s the result.
Now, I’ll add similar effects to the words beneath this one. I’ll also head back to the Character panel and enlarge everything. I think the original version was too small.
Ah, that’s better. I made everything bigger and by using almost the same instructions I gave above, I changed the color of the lower text, added a stroke to it and also added a drop shadow. I think that looks fabulous.
What Effects Look Like in the Layers Panel
Earlier in this post, I mentioned that everything that’s derived from the Layer Style dialog has a non-destructive effect on the layer itself. It’s true. Take a look at the layers in the Layers panel as evidence of this. The structure of these text layers sort of remind me of Smart Object layers.
In the above screenshot, you can see each text layer as well as all the effects applied to each as a list below. To hide an effect, simply click the eyeball that sits to the left of its name. To hide all the effects at once in a layer, click the eyeball that’s to the left of the word Effects. To hide (collapse) the list from view but to keep the effects active and visible, click the small arrow that’s to the right of the layer.
Most importantly, to remove an effect without returning to the Layer Style dialog, you can simply click and drag that effect from the layer in the Layers panel to the trash can down underneath it at the bottom of the panel. Drop it there and that effect will be gone forever. Well, until you replace it again.
Make Default & Reset to Default
A really cool and very helpful feature of the Layer Style dialog is the fact that you can set certain attributes as the default as well as reset any existing attribute to the default. Basically, Photoshop has default positions and values for all of the settings in this area. When you make a change to one area to apply effects to a layer, you’re effectively changing those values. Photoshop remembers this. The next time you open the panel, those old values will be staring you in the face. To quickly reset your old settings to the Photoshop defaults, just click the Reset to Default button found at the bottom of each area.
If you’re a power user and find yourself consistently using the same or similar values over and over again, you can make those values the default, as opposed to the Photoshop ones. To accomplish this, just set each slider and drop-down and then click the Make Default button.
It’s that easy. Stay tuned because there’s much more to come.
I hope I clearly explained how to apply a layer style to a layer in Adobe Photoshop. If you have any questions or concerns regarding this post, please leave them in the comment section below. Thanks for reading!