Inside the Layer Style dialog box

The Layer Style dialog box offers 13 panels containing more than 100 options. I discussed the first panel, Blending Options, in Chapter 13. The remaining 12 panels are devoted to layer effects. Select the desired effect from the list on the left; use the check box to turn the effect on and off.

Although there are gobs of options, many of them are self-explanatory. You select a blend mode from the Blend Mode pop-up menu. (For explanations of these, look to "The blend modes" section of Chapter 13.) You make the effect translucent by entering a value in the Opacity option box.

Other options appear multiple times throughout the course of the dialog box. All the options that appear in the Drop Shadow panel also appear in the Inner Shadow panel; the options from the Outer Glow panel appear in the Inner Glow panel; and so on. The modified dialog box in Figure 14-12 shows four representative effects panels — Inner Shadow, Inner Glow, Bevel and Emboss, and Texture — which together contain most of the options you'll encounter.

The following items explain the options in the order that they appear throughout the panels. I explain each option only once, so if an option appears multiple times (as so many do), look for its first appearance in a panel to locate the corresponding discussion in the following list:

♦ Blend Mode: This pop-up menu controls the blend mode. So much for the obvious. But did you know that you can use the Blend Mode menu to turn an effect upside-down? Select a light color and apply the Screen mode to change a drop shadow into a directional halo. Or use a dark color with Multiply to change an outer glow into a shadow that evenly traces the edge of the layer. Don't be constrained by pedestrian notions of shadows and glows. Layer effects can be anything.

♦ Color Swatch: To change the color of the shadow, glow, or beveled edge, click the color swatch. When the Color Picker is open, click in the image window to eyedrop a color from the layered composition. When editing a glow, you can apply a gradient in place of a solid color. Click the gradient preview to create a custom gradation, or select a preset from the pop-up palette.

♦ Opacity: Use this option to make the effect translucent. Remember, a little bit of effect goes a long way. When in doubt, reduce the Opacity value.

♦ Angle: Associated with shadows, bevels, the Satin effect, and gradients, this value controls the direction of the effect. In the case of shadows and bevels, the option controls the angle of the light source. With Satin, it controls the angle at which contour patterns overlap. And with a gradient, the Angle value represents the direction of the gradient.

You can avoid the numerical Angle option and simply drag an effect inside the image window. When the Drop Shadow or Inner Shadow panel is visible, drag inside the image window to move the shadow with respect to the layer. You can also drag the contour effect when working in the Satin panel. Other draggable effects include Gradient Overlay and Pattern Overlay, although dragging affects positioning, not angle.

Figure 14-12: A modified picture of the Layer Style dialog box, featuring the Inner Shadow, Inner Glow, Bevel and Emboss, and Texture panels

4 Use Global Light: In the real world, the sun casts all shadows in the same direction. Oh, sure, the shadows change minutely from one object to the next, but what with the sun being 90 million miles away and all, the changes are astronomically subtle. I doubt if a single-celled organism, upon admiring its shadow compared with that of its neighbor, could perceive the slightest difference. The fact that single-celled organisms lack eyes, brains, and other perceptual organs does not in any way lessen the truth of this powerful argument.

As I was saying, one sun means one lightness and one darkness. By turning on the Use Global Light check box, you tell Photoshop to cast all direction-dependent effects — drop shadows, inner shadows, and the five kinds of bevels — in the same direction. If you change the angle of a drop shadow applied to Layer 1, Photoshop rotates the sun in its heaven and so changes the angle of the pillow emboss applied to Layer 9, thus proving that even a computer program may subscribe to the immutable laws of nature.

Conversely, if you turn the check box off, you tell nature to take a hike. You can change an Angle value in any which way you like and none of the other layers will care.

Tip If you have established a consistent universe, you can edit the angle of the sun by choosing Layer Layer Style Global Light. Change the Angle value and all shadows and bevels created with Use Global Light turned on will move in unison. You can also set the Altitude for bevels. "Sun rise, sun set," as the Yiddish fiddlers say. That doesn't shed any light on the topic, but when in doubt, I like to quote a great musical to class up the joint.

4 Distance: The Drop Shadow, Inner Shadow, and Satin panels feature a Distance value that determines the distance between the farthest edge of the effect and the corresponding edge of the layer. Like Angle, this value is affected when you drag in the image window.

4 Spread/Choke: Associated with the Drop Shadow and Outer Glow panels, the Spread option expands the point at which the effect begins outward from the perimeter of the layer. If you were creating the effect manually (as discussed in the section "Selecting the Contents of Layers" in Chapter 12), this would be similar to applying Select ^ Modify ^ Expand. Spread changes to Choke in the Inner Shadow and Inner Glow panels, in which case it contracts the point at which the effect begins. Note that both Spread and Choke are measured as percentages of the Size value, explained next.

4 Size: One of the most ubiquitous settings, the Size value determines how far an effect expands or contracts from the perimeter of the layer. In the case of shadows and glows, the portion of the Size that is not devoted to Spread or Choke is given over to blurring. For example, if you set the Spread for Outer Glow to 100 percent and the Size to 10 pixels, then 0 percent is left for blurring. The glow expands 10 pixels out from the perimeter of the layer and has a sharp edge, as in the lower-left example in Figure 14-13. If you change the Spread to 0 percent, Photoshop blurs the glow across 100 percent of the Size.

As shown in the bottom-right example of the figure, this makes the effect seem smaller, but in fact, only the opaque portion of the effect has shrunk.

Size and Depth observe a similar relationship in the Bevel and Emboss panel, with Depth taking the place of Spread or Choke. When adjusting a Satin effect, Size affects the length of the contoured wave pattern. And in Stroke, Size controls the thickness of the outline.

Drop Shadow, Spread = 100% Spread = 0%

Figure 14-13: These examples show the codependent relationship between Spread (or Choke) and Size. Spread and Choke are actually subordinate to Size, though visually it often appears to be the other way around.

♦ Contour: Photoshop creates most effects — namely shadows, glows, bevel, and the Satin effect — by fading a color from a specified Opacity value to transparent. The rate at which the fade occurs is determined by the Contour option. Click the down-pointing arrowhead to select from a palette of preset contours; click the contour preview to design your own. If you think of the Contour preview as a graph, the top of the graph represents opacity and the bottom represents transparency. So a straight line from top to bottom shows a consistent fade. A spike in the graph shows the color hitting opacity and then fading away again. Figure 14-14 shows a few examples.

The most challenging contours are associated with Bevel and Emboss. The Gloss Contour option controls how colors fade in and out inside the beveled edge, as if the edge were reflecting other colors around it. The indented Contour effect — below Bevel and Emboss in the Layer Style list — wrinkles the edge of the layer so that it casts different highlights and shadows.

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Figure 14-14: Four Contour presets combined with an Outer Glow effect. The Contour setting controls how the halo drops from opacity to transparency, and sometimes back again.

4 Anti-aliased: If a Contour setting consists of sharp corners, you can soften them by turning this check box on. Most presets have rounded corners, making antialiasing unnecessary.

4 Noise: Associated strictly with shadows and glows, the Noise value randomizes the transparency of pixels. It's like using the Dissolve blend mode, except that you have control over how much randomization to apply. The Noise value does not change the color of pixels; that is the job of an option called Jitter.

♦ Layer Knocks Out Drop Shadow: In the real world, if an object was translucent, you could see through it to its own shadow. However, this turns out to be an unpopular law of nature with most image editors. So when creating a drop shadow, Photoshop gives us the Layer Knocks Out Drop Shadow check box, which when selected makes the drop shadow invisible directly behind the layer. Turn the option off for a more natural effect.

♦ Technique: Moving out of the Shadow panels and into Outer Glow, the first unique option is the Technique pop-up menu. Available when creating glow or bevel effects, Technique controls how the contours of the effect are calculated. When a glow is set to Softer, Photoshop applies a modified Gaussian Blur to ensure optimal transitions between the glow and background elements. Your other option is Precise, which calculates the effect without the Gaussian adjustment. Mind you, the effect may remain blurry, but strictly as a function of the Spread and Contour settings. Precise may work better in tight corners, common around type and shape layers. Otherwise, stick with Softer.

The Bevel and Emboss panel doesn't provide the same kind of blurring functions that you get with shadow and glow effects, so the Technique option works a bit differently. The default setting, Smooth, averages and blurs pixels to achieve soft, rounded edges. The two Chisel settings remove the averaging to create saw-tooth abrasions into the sides of the layer. Chisel Hard results in thick cut marks; Chisel Soft averages the perimeter of the layer to create finer cuts. Up the Soften value (described shortly) to blur the abrasions.

♦ Source: When working in the Inner Glow panel, Photoshop wants to know where the glow starts. Should it glow inward from the perimeter of the layer (Edge) or outward from the middle (Center)?

♦ Range: The two Glow panels and the Contour panel (subordinate to Bevel and Emboss) use Range values to modify the Contour settings. This value sets the midpoint of the contour with respect to the middle of the size. Values less than 50 percent move the midpoint away from the source, extending the effect. Values greater than 50 percent shrink the effect.

♦ Jitter: Where the Noise value randomizes the transparency of pixels, Jitter randomizes the colors. This option is operable only when creating gradient glows in which the gradation contains two or more colors (not a color and transparency).

♦ Depth: The first unique Bevel and Emboss setting is Depth, which makes the sides of a bevel steeper or shallower. In most cases, this translates to increased contrast between highlights and shadows as you raise the Depth value.

The Texture panel includes its own Depth setting. Here, Photoshop renders the pattern as a texture map, lighting the white areas of the pattern as high and the black areas as low. The Depth value determines the depth of the texture.

The difference is you can enter a negative value, which inverts the texture. Meanwhile, you also have an additional Invert check box, which you can use to reverse the lights and darks in the pattern. So a positive Depth value with Invert turned on produces the same effect as a negative Depth value with Invert turned off.

♦ Direction: When working in the Bevel and Emboss panel, you see two radio buttons: Up and Down. If the Angle value indicates the direction of the sun, then Up positions the highlight along the edge near the sun and the shadow along the opposite edge. Down reverses things, so the shadow is near the light source. Presumably, this means the layer sinks into its background rather than protrudes out from it. But, in practice, the layer usually appears merely as though it's lit differently.

♦ Soften: This value sets the amount of blur applied to the beveled highlights and shadows. Small changes make a big difference when Technique is set to one of the Chisel options.

♦ Altitude: The Bevel and Emboss panel includes two lighting controls, Angle and Altitude. The Angle value is just that: the angle of the sun with respect to the layer. The Altitude is measured on a half circle drawn across the sky. A maximum value of 90 degrees puts the sun directly overhead (noon); 0 degrees puts it on the horizon (sunrise). Values in the medium range — 30 to 60 degrees — generally produce the best results.

♦ Scale: The Texture and Pattern Overlay panels include Scale values, which scale the pattern tiles inside the layer. Values greater than 100 percent swell the pattern; values lower than 100 percent shrink it.

♦ Link/Align with Layer: When turned on, this check box centers a gradient inside a layer. If you want to draw a gradient across many layers, turn the option off to center the gradient inside the canvas. When editing a pattern, this option links the pattern to the layer so the two move together.

♦ Position: The final Layer Style option appears inside the Stroke panel. The Position pop-up menu defines how the width of the stroke aligns with the perimeter of the layer. Photoshop can draw the stroke outside the edge of the layer, inside the edge, or center the stroke exactly on the edge. It's up to you.

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Photoshop Secrets

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