Applying, Clearing, and Converting Styles_

Layer styles are inexorably linked to layers and layer content. If the layer contains only transparent pixels, you can apply a style, but it becomes visible only after the layer is painted on, or filled with a color. There are two exceptions to be aware of: You cannot apply a layer style to an adjustment layer or layer groups.

Although a style is applied to a layer, technically speaking it is applied only when you flatten a document or output it in a file format that does not support layers and styles. Until such time, the style affects only the appearance, not the pixels in the layer. This means that you can change the effects' settings as many times as you like without fear of damaging the content. The only caveats are that you cannot blend layer styles or apply filters (see "Converting Styles into Layers," later in the chapter).

When it comes to actually applying a style to a layer, probably the easiest and quickest method is to have the Style palette open, select a layer, or layers, and then click a style thumbnail in the palette. You can also drag a style thumbnail to the layer or drop it in the document window; in which case the style is applied to the active layer. However, if more than one layer is selected, it is applied only to the topmost layer in the selection.

You can also apply a style when you use the pen and shape tools in Fill mode. To do so, after selecting a tool, click the Shape Layers icon in the options bar and then click the Style icon to call up the Style pop-up palette and select a style (Figure 7-2).

Figure 7-2: The options bar with the "Shape layers" and Style picker icons highlighted.

Figure 7-2: The options bar with the "Shape layers" and Style picker icons highlighted.

NOTE If you need to create a path or shape without applying a style and the Default Style (None) is not available in the Style pop-up palette, choose No Style from the palette's menu or right-click (Windows), Ctrl-click (Mac OS) the tool's icon in the options bar and then choose Reset Tool.

TIP By default, if you add a style on top of an existing style, the current style is replaced. If you want to add to the existing style, press the Shift key as you click before you drag and drop.

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