Unlimited PS Actions, graphics, videos & courses! Unlimited asset downloads! From $16.50/m
  1. Design & Illustration
  2. Theory

How to Properly Add a Stroke Using Photoshop Layer Styles

This post is part of a series called Intro to Photoshop Layer Styles.
How to Apply Pattern Overlays Using Photoshop Layer Styles
Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

Always wanted to apply strokes to your artwork using the Stroke layer style, but never knew exactly where or how to start?

Well, if that's the case, then this tutorial should help you out since it will explain what a Photoshop Stroke layer style is and show you how you can use the Photoshop Stroke effect within your workflow.

From how to add a stroke in Photoshop to how to add a stroke to text in Photoshop, or even how to make a dotted stroke in Photoshop, all these questions will be easy to figure out once you finish reading this material.

So, if you want to master the Photoshop Stroke effect, or maybe figure out how to add a stroke to an empty layer, then you've come to the right place.

Follow along with us over on our Envato Tuts+ YouTube channel:

The Uses for Stroke

The Stroke effect is used to add strokes and borders to layers and shapes. It can be used to create solid-color lines, colorful gradients, and patterned borders.

Although you can only apply the Stroke effect once, it can be used in conjunction with other effects to create more interesting and diverse styles.

example of using the stroke layer style effect

The Layer Styles Stroke Dialog Box

Stroke is one of the easiest effects to work with, because almost all the settings are self-explanatory. When you change any of the settings, it's very easy to see the difference on your canvas.

There are a few tricks to the stroke effect, though. Let's find out what they are.

example of the stroke layer style settings


The Size slider simply sets the width of your stroke, anywhere from 1 px to 250 px.

example of the size settings

In the following example, you can see how increasing the stroke size gives us a thicker border around our text.

example of using different size settings


The position dropdown consists of Outside, Inside, and Center options. This setting controls the alignment of your stroke to the layer it's applied to in the following ways:

  • Outside: Your stroke will be created from the edge of your shape and grow outwards, away from your object.
  • Inside: Your stroke will be created from the edge of your shape and grow inwards, towards the center of your object.
  • Center: Your stroke will be created from the edge of your shape and grow both inwards and outwards.

Choosing different Position settings is helpful when you are combining your Stroke effect with other Layer Style settings.

example of the position settings

In the following example, you can see how the Inside position differs from Outside. You will also notice that if your stroke is set to Inside or Center, the part of the Stroke that overlaps with the original shape will also pick up other effects that are applied to the layer—in this case, a slight Bevel & Emboss.

example of using different position settings

Blend Mode

The Blend Mode allows you to set the blending mode for your Stroke.

Depending on the Position settings you are using, the Blend Mode will affect the layer you are using it on, or the layer beneath it.

If you are unfamiliar with how all the different Blending Modes work, I highly recommend checking out the Blending Is Fun Basix tutorial.

example of the blend mode settings

In the following example, you can see how changing the Blend Mode from Normal to Overlay gives the stroke a completely different look as it interacts with other elements of the design.

example of using different blend mode settings


The Opacity slider controls how transparent our stroke is.

A smaller number here makes your Stroke more transparent, while a higher number is more opaque.

Tip: If you set your stroke to 0% opacity, it will act as a mask and hide areas of the layer it is applied to.

example of the opacity settings

In the following example, you can see that setting the Opacity to 0% creates a mask where the stroke would normally appear.

example of the opacity settings

Fill Type

Fill Type lets you control what fill you want to apply to your Stroke.

It can be a Color, Gradient, or even a Pattern.

Each choice gives us additional options, which are the same as the previous settings we covered in the Gradient Overlay and Pattern Overlay articles of this series.

example of the fill type settings

In the following example, you can see how changing the Fill Type from Color to Gradient lets us create a more believable metallic effect.

example of using different fill type settings

Saving and Loading Default Settings

You can save and load default settings for each effect in the Layer Styles dialog box. When you click Make Default, Photoshop will store whatever settings are currently active as the new default settings for that effect.

If you click Reset to Default, Photoshop will then load whatever settings were last saved. This allows you to experiment and simply reload the default settings if you want to start over.

example of saving and resetting the settings

Grow Your Layer Styles Library

Want to build an extended Photoshop Layer Styles library, but don't quite have the time to make them yourself? Well, if that's the case then you should definitely head over to Envato Elements, where you'll find a great selection such as these ones:

Ice Chrome Layer Styles

Give your art an icy look using this beautifully crafted layer style pack that will turn any text into a piece of art.

ice photoshop layer style
Ice Chrome Photoshop Layer Style by Envato Elements

80s Layer Styles

Give your artwork a blast from the past using these retro neon layer styles that are sure to turn heads.

80s photoshop layer styles
80s Photoshop Layer Styles by Envato Elements

Pressed and Embossed Book Cloth Layer Styles

Take your text to the next level using this incredibly realistic-looking pressed and embossed book cloth layer styles pack, which I absolutely guarantee will help you stand out.

pressed and embossed book cloth layer styles
Pressed and Embossed Book Cloth Photoshop Layer Styles by Envato Elements

Expand Your Photoshop Skills

Just started out using Adobe Photoshop and feel like learning more? Well, today's your lucky day since I've put together a little list of tutorials that should keep you going for the next few days!

Looking for something to help kick start your next project?
Envato Market has a range of items for sale to help get you started.