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Photoshop Basics: Layer Effects

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Add some ZING to your layers and objects using Layer FX!

In this tutorial, unlock the power of Layer FX to add styles like Drop Shadow, Bevel & Emboss, & Stroke.

* This tutorial is part of the Photoshop Basics Collection

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What are Layer FX?

Photoshop images are composed of layers stacked on top of each other for maximum flexibility in editing and design. The program offers a variety of special effects that you can apply to an entire layer to produce specific visual effects. From drop shadows to outline strokes to exterior glows, Photoshop’s layer effects and styles can be used for an array of purposes.

Special Effects for Your Photoshop Layers

Keep in mind that Photoshop’s Layer FX apply to everything added to a specific layer. If you add some new items to a layer with a drop shadow effect, they will also carry the shadow automatically. You can even apply the layer effects to a group of layers. The software is packed with an array of preset styles and options to make the most of the tool, but you can also create custom options of your own.

To get started using the tool, just select the small FX icon next to the name of any layer in the Layers panel. You can view the various Layer FX applied to each layer inside the panel as well. You’re also not limited in how you use these effects; each layer can have as many effects as you choose for maximum impact.

What Kinds of Styles and Effects Are Available?

When you start working with Photoshop’s Layer FX, you can access a wide array of preset layer styles packed into the program. Some of the most commonly used options include Drop Shadow, Outer and Inner Glow, Bevel and Emboss, or Color or Pattern Overlay. You can replace the images, text or icons on a layer with an overlay of a special pattern or a specific color or gradient.

Apply one of the glowing layer styles for a radiant effect around your content. For an outlined layer, you could go for the Stroke effect; this can be an especially useful choice when working with text against a complicated background. There are all kinds of special modifications that you can apply to both preset and custom Layer FX.

How Can Layer FX Enhance Your Project?

When you’re using Photoshop to design a flyer or graphic, or if you’re just adding captions and other special additions to your favorite photos, Layer FX can come in handy. You can apply light coming from a specific direction to layer objects or choose a dramatic drop shadow for your text. You can even set a global light angle that will be used in all of the Layer FX you choose for your project. For more options, you can add special effects and unique design choices with color, gradient and pattern overlay.

Photoshop’s Layer FX can be a quick and easy way to achieve the results you’re looking for. This tool is particularly useful when dealing with text or solid objects sitting above a background image or color, which makes it a frequent favorite of designers creating graphics for advertisements, web banners or local flyers.

To learn all the tips, tricks and hints that can help you maximize your use of Photoshop’s Layer FX and more, check out our tutorial videos.

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Each Photoshop Basics Tutorial includes a sample image so you can learn at your own pace and follow along with the video.

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