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Photoshop Styles / Layer effects (and Elements)

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Go to the styles panel and right side menu and use the import command to add all the ASL files, one or multiple sets

Default settings

If there is a particular effect setup that you like for say the drop shadow, you can always click the 'make default' and that will mean the next time you create a shadow then that set of distance, spread, size settings will be used.


If you select the layer, you can now go to the properties dialog and change the feather / density (blur of the edges) for the path - this also can be used in combo with the layer effects - so an image can have a tile effect, stroke and now it can also be blurred (in some ways, it would have been a nice addition to the layer effects dialog but then, I guess, the ASL files would have had to be changed to save the blurring effect and that would have resulted in modifications to the format). The blurring can be used to create some truly unusual layer effects with any layer or perhaps text. You can also use density / feather feature in the properties to create some really extreme color effects across an entire image


The effects are not fixed in stone. You can modify the effects by selecting the shape (with the effect such as shadow / bevel etc) and going to the layer menu and the effects dialog to change the shadow / stroke etc You can also go to the layer's panel and double click the 'shadow' 'bevel' etc to display the related dialog and change the shadow / bevel etc that way They also can be modified by applying smart filters (turning the shape into a smart object) - the layer effects are still accessible and can be modified as before by double clicking the smart object icon (and editing the PSB document associated with that layer)

Smart objects

You can use the layer effects and smart objects to create a near infinite combination of layer effects to any layer / text. Select a path (text say) and then go to the layer menu and apply a shadow etc and then go to the layer menu and smart object option and you can then turn that into a new layer type. The smart object can then in turn have a new layer effect set (shadow, bevel) applied to it and this can be repeated and repeated - at all times, the layer and the layer effects as well as any actual filter effects applied, can be altered during the creative process. Double click on the smart object entry on the layer menu for that particular layer. You can also just flatten the result to remove all the smart objects / smart filters.


Use the effects with custom shapes / layers. The effects from are all stored in 6 format and can be used in all versions from that ( 6 still works fine on Windows 7.. They can be applied to layers (such as basic layers as well as text layers and custom shapes). There has been no real change to the format of the ASL file since the early days of the creative suite. Elements uses them but PSE has limited options to editing the effects and some of the features / sub effects are not even accessible. You can use them with background layers as well, just click the little lock in the layer panel and then add all kinds of colorful ASL effects to that. Great for an instant abstract background as well as perhaps more subtle sunrises etc


Use the layer effects in combo with brushes to create more ornate brush effects via a new layer. Create a new layer and select a brush and set the color of the brush via the toolbox. You can perselect the layer effect or apply the layer effect post brush strokes. You can use with any of the brush tools. You can also apply any of the layer effects such as drop shadows etc, any of the effects from the packs from graphicxtras can also be applied to create super colorful brush strokes in seconds. You can, of course, create multiple layers with multiple brush strokes and apply multiple different layer effects and shadows to those brushes - so you can create a multiple shadow brush stroke image over multiple layers, these can then be grouped and turned into a smart object which in turn can also have additional layer effects applied. Brushes and layer effects can be used to create wonderful images in an isolated area instead of just applying to an entire design or layer. You can also just select the eraser tool and erase the applied layer effect - so shadow and gels and bevels can be just as quickly removed.


Use the effects to add awesome edges to images. A quick way to do this would be to select a region, inverse that and then copy the selection and paste. The new layer based on the selection can then have a predefined ASL applied or use that as an initial point and then modify it via the layer effects menu. The edge can then be flattened with the other layers. Millions of different edge effects can be applied in seconds via the layer effect panel. The edges does not need to be a rectangular either, it can also be a rough / distressed artwork and much more - the key thing is the inner part to allow for the image beneath to be seen. You can also use masks to create a quick edge. Open a document with a picture and then create a new layer and fill with black - apply a layer effect to that layer and then select the quick mask option on the toolbox. Then apply a brush stroke to fill the region you want for the visible part of the modified image - then exit the quick mask mode Via the PS toolbox) and then select invert and cut the selection

Web buttons

Use the effects to create web control buttons for web pages. There are also many additional web control available on the web. Recently a new version of Alien Skin's Candy filter set Version 6. has been released and it includes many new possible web effects (though these are not layer effects). Many of the effects included in the various packs include bevel settings. If there is no particular bevel setting for a particular layer effects, you can always add one by going to the layer menu to display the layer effects dialog. The bevel can then be set to an inner bevel, emboss, stroke emboss etc. Shading can also be changed, gloss, shadow as well

Use with text

The presets can be used with text to create awesome text effects. Use layer scaling to tweak settings as well as go to the layer menu and the dialog and change the various bevel, settings as required. As the text can be 5pt or 50pt is virtually impossible to match it exactly to the text. Personally I prefer to change the text into a custom layer and then apply the layer effects but you then lose the option to be able to change the text if you suddenly notice there is a spelling mistake or the client wants a change to the project.

How to scale

Use the layer scaling dialog to tweak the layer effect without going to the layers dialog. You can find the layer scaling command in the layer menu. The layer scaling command can radically change the effect applied especially if using a satin or bevel effect. Some of the effects are only subtly changed by the layer scaling command such as stroke or drop shadow. Using the layer scaling you can virtually create nearly infinite layer effects from a basic set of ASL effects - an effect that looks rubbish might suddenly turn into magic by the slightest change to the scaling setting.

Layer comps

Layer Comps are superb - they are a great way of organizing your work (OK, I am certain they could be done better and I would love to see more options added such as perhaps live effects) - the key thing here is that you can use them with layer effects. Create a layer and then apply a layer effect and then go to the layer comp panel in PS and create a new layer comp (saving the appearance, visibility and position). The current position of the drop shadow and the bevel etc are all saved. Now go to the layer comp panel and you can select the comps and then the layer effect will change as set at the time of the comp creation (you can also update the comp so it is not cast in stone

How to warp them

Use the layer effects and warping transformations for amazing visual effects. The standard warping via the edit menu transform warp can be used with the layer effect by applying a shadow or bevel to a path and then converting the text or artwork into a smart object, the image can be warped in 100s of ways using the edit menu puppet warp command. The puppet warp effect seems to pull the color / layer effect away from the layer and distorts the effects in many weird and wonderful ways.

How to add perspective effects

Use the layer effects via the pasteboard or VP dialog for weird and wonderful perspective effects. To do this, apply a layer effect to a layer and then go to the filter menu and select the vanishing point option. You can set up all kinds of unusual VP for the design - use to create truly wonderful perspective effects (works great with layer effects applied to text).

How to combine with blur effects etc

CS6 comes with a selection of wonderful new blur features - the blurs can be used in combination with the layer effects - apply field blur, iris blur, tilt shift, bokeh live effects and more to the effects to create smeared and weird color effects with all the effects in the ASL files from graphicxtras. A dialog will appear and say that the layer needs to be rasterized. Once that is done you can manipulate the blur settings in many different ways by moving the control pins - use the control point or the slider settings. You can apply multiple pins to the layer effect text (or layer) as well as multiple filters

How to use them with effects

You can apply standard plugin effects to the layer effects. Create a new layer and then apply a layer effect (gel, metallic,) and then flatten the art and apply a filter such as blurs, gallery effects / filter gallery. You can also apply a layer effect to text and then by converting the layer into a smart object via the layer menu convert command - you can apply live effects / smart filters such as blurs and pinch effects to the layer effects. As the object is a smart object, the filters and the object and the layer effects can be changed at any point. Just go to the layer panel and double click the smart object and change the layer effect. Sadly, the layer comp doesn't seem to take into account smart objects.


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