Creating, Saving, and Organizing Styles

The Layer Styles dialog box is the place to create new custom styles. By combining the various effects available in the dialog box or changing their settings, you can create styles that mimic wood, metal, chrome, ruby, glistening water droplets, or fragile glass buttons; in fact, the list is limitless. The available effects include Drop Shadow, Inner Shadow, Outer and Inner Glow, Bevel and Emboss, Satin, Color, Gradient and Pattern Overlay, and Stroke (see Figure 7-1).

Figure 7-1: The Layer Style dialog box in Large Detail mode (modes may be selected from the dialog box's pop-up menu). You can click any effect name in the left pane to see its options.

To create a new Layer Style, take the following steps:

1. Start with a new document (File ^ New). In the New dialog box, choose White for Background Contents.

2. Create a new layer by clicking the Create a New Layer icon in the Layers palette.

3. Make a selection in the middle of the layer with the rectangular or the elliptical marquee tool and fill it with 50% gray (choose Edit ^ Fill ^ Contents ^ 50% Gray). Deselect the selection (choose Select ^ Deselect).

4. Double-click the layer thumbnail to launch the Layer Style dialog box or click the Add a Layer Style icon (second from left) in the Layers palette and choose Blending Options from the pop-up menu. You can also choose Layer ^ Layer Style ^ Blending Options; right-click (Windows), Ctrl-click (Mac OS) a layer tile and choose Blending Options from the contextual menu.

5. In the Layer Style dialog box (Figure 7-1), click an effect name in the left side of the dialog box that you want to include in the new style (the box next to it will be checked for you and the options for the effect displayed in the right side of the dialog box).

6. Accept the default settings or modify them (you should see instant feedback in the document window, provided that the Preview option is checked). To familiarize yourself with the options, apply them one at a time. Just be aware, Color Overlay hides Gradient Overlay, which in turn hides Pattern Overlay.

7. When you are happy with the effect, select another and modify that one. When you are happy with the style created by combining the effects, click the New Style button and follow the instructions to save it. The style is saved and added to the current styles library (click Styles at the top left of the dialog box to see the current library).

8. Click the OK button to exit the dialog box.

You can also save an effect as a preset style without recourse to the Layer Style dialog box: After an effect, or effects, has been applied to a layer, select the layer and then click in an empty area of the Style palette (Window^ Styles). Name the style when the New Style dialog box opens and click the OK button; alternatively, click the Create New Style button in the Styles palette.

TIP If you create styles for future use, remember to save the current set in case Photoshop quits unexpectedly. You can save styles by choosing Save Styles from the Style palette or Layer Style dialog box menu. By default, the styles are saved in the Presets ^ Layer Styles folder inside the application folder; Photoshop can see the contents in the Presets subfolders and creates lists from each file in the appropriate menus when it is launched. It's always a good idea to save the Presets folder to another hard drive or removable media, in case you accidentally delete your custom presets when you have to reinstall Photoshop or format your disk.

Should you need to, you can delete individual styles in the previously mentioned palettes and dialog boxes by dragging them to the Trash icon or by pressing Alt (Windows), Opt (Mac OS) while clicking the style when the pointer icon turns to a scissors. With the exception of the Styles palette, where selecting a thumbnail applies a style, you can also select a style thumbnail and then choose Delete Style from the palette menu or click the Delete button in the Preset Manager. If those weren't enough ways to delete a style, you can also right-click (Windows), Ctrl-click (Mac OS) a style and choose Delete from the contextual menu.

Photoshop ships with a number of style libraries, which you can load from the Style palette menu, the Style Picker menu, the Layer Style menu, or the Preset Manager (Edit ^ Preset Manager) dialog box menu.

NOTE If you want to reorganize the styles in the libraries, you must use the Preset Manager.

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