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

Understanding the Inner Glow Setting in Photoshop

This post is part of a series called Intro to Photoshop Layer Styles.
How to Apply Outer Glow to Layer Styles in Photoshop
The Comprehensive Guide to Bevel and Emboss
Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

Always wanted to learn how to add an inner glow in Photoshop, but never knew exactly where to start?

Well if that's the case then you're in luck since in this tutorial I'm going to walk you through the entire process so that in the end you'll be able to add a Photoshop inner glow to any future project.

So, if you want to learn how to apply an inner glow in Photoshop, then you've come to the right place. 

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

The Uses for an Inner Glow

Inner Glow is one of the lesser-used effects within Photoshop layer styles, but that doesn't mean it isn't useful.

On top of creating a glowing effect, Inner Glow can also be used to simulate an embossed or cut-out effect, to create some depth within your styles, or to add an inner stroke to your design.

Below you will see an example of how an Inner Glow can be used to simulate a shadow behind a cut-out shape and create an icy type effect. One tool, two very different uses.

inner glow versatility example

The Layer Styles Inner Glow Dialog Box

The Inner Glow dialog box is shown below. Not much different than Outer Glow, but you will notice a new Source radio button selection area with Center and Edge as the options.

example of inner glow settings

Blend Mode

The Blend Mode dropdown allows you to set the blending mode for your Inner Glow. If you are looking to create a glowing effect, Linear Dodge (Add) or Screen are good modes to use, if you want to create an "inner shadow" type effect, Linear Burn or Multiply work well, and if you are trying to create an inner stroke (which we will get into in more detail below) then Normal is fine.

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

blending modes example

In the following example, you can see that Screen, on the left, will add the green Inner Glow in a more subtle way when compared to Linear Dodge (Add), on the right.

screen versus linear dodge blending modes


The Opacity slider allows you to specify how transparent your Inner Glow will be. A setting of 0% is completely transparent, while 100% is completely opaque.

opacity settings preview

In the following example, you can see that text on the left has a more subtle burned effect, while the one on the right is more dramatic.

different opacity levels example


By now, you should be familiar with the Noise slider. Increasing the Noise slider will add a bit of noise to your Inner Glow, allowing you to add some grit to your styles.

noise settings preview

In the following example, you can see that adding a small amount of noise can go a long way in changing the overall look of our style.

example of using different noise levels

Color and Gradient

When the corresponding radio button is selected, the Color block allows us to change the color of the Inner Glow, while the same goes for the Gradient radio button. With Gradient selected, you are not limited to a single color, which can help you create very intricate and abstract glowing effects.

color and gradient settings preview

In the following example, setting a single color will give a predictable Inner Glow, while experimenting with different gradients can help us achieve unique effects, like the psychedelic slime effect below.

color versus gradient example


The Technique dropdown box gives us two different options for rendering our Inner Glow: Softer and Precise. Softer gives us an Inner Glow that is more organic and natural looking, while Precise fits the shape of the glow more tightly to the original shape of the layer.

technique settings preview

In the following example, you can see the difference between the more organic-looking Softer setting and the harder edges of the Precise technique on the right.

softer versus precise example


The Source radio buttons allow you to specify whether you want the Inner Glow to emanate from the edges or the center of your shape.

source settings preview

In the following example, you can clearly see the difference in where the Inner Glow originates.

source center versus edge example


The Choke slider changes the falloff of the Inner Glow in a linear fashion, or in other words, how gradually it fades out at the edges.

For a typical Inner Glow, you will normally want to leave this at 0%, but for more intense glows you should increase it, and for inner strokes with hard edges you can set it all the way to 100%.

choke settings preview

In the following example, increasing the spread percentage from 0% to 100% turns the Inner Glow into a hard-edged stroke.

example of different choke values


The Size slider is pretty self-explanatory. It allows you to increase the size of the Inner Glow in 1 px increments. The higher the Size value is, the bigger the Inner Glow becomes.

size settings preview

In the following example, the Inner Glow on the left is less prominent, while the one on the right stands out more and gives us a more velvety look.

example of different size values


The Contour shapes allow you to change the falloff of the Inner Glow in a non-linear fashion. By choosing different curve profiles, you can get the glow to fade out in different ways.

This is really useful when you are trying to achieve special glow or abstract effects.

In addition, the "Anti-aliased" checkbox allows you to improve the quality of the shadow with a very slight drop in performance. The performance hit is negligible, so we recommend always keeping the box checked.

contour settings preview

In the following example, changing the Contour to a "sine wave" shape results in an Inner Glow with a ripple-type effect, which is perfect for our wet style.

example of different contour curve profiles


Adjusting the Range is similar to changing the Choke. It allows you to control the falloff of your Inner Glow in almost the same way.

A lower setting gives us a harder glow, while a higher setting gives us a softer one.

range settings preview

In the following example, you can see how changing the Range affects the softness of the Inner Glow.

example of different range values


You need to choose a gradient for Jitter to have any effect. The option adds color and transparency noise across the gradient to produce an effect similar to Noise. The higher the Jitter value, the more pronounced the effect becomes. This option is useful to reduce gradient banding.

jitter settings preview

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.

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

saving and resetting the layer style settings

Premium Options

Oh, and if you want to expand your layer style library, don't forget you can always head over to Envato Elements, where you'll find a great selection such as these ones:

Watercolor Layer Styles

Easily turn any plain text into a realistic watercolor effect using these custom-made Photoshop layer styles.

watercolor layer style
Watercolor Layer Styles by Envato Elements

Neon Layer Styles

Hands down, this is one of my favorite layer style packs, since it allows you to quickly turn any text segment into slick-looking neon, giving your artwork that realistic feel that you want and need.

neon layer styles
Neon Layer Styles by Envato Elements

Engraved Layer Styles

Need to add depth to your artwork but don't want to spend the time fiddling around with all the different available Photoshop options? Well, if that's the case then this pack of engraved layer styles might be just what you've been looking for. 

engraved layer styles
Engraved Layer Styles by Envato Elements

Expand Your Photoshop Skills

Just started out using Adobe Photoshop and feel like learning more besides how to create a drop shadow in Photoshop? Well, today's your lucky day since I've put together a little list of tutorials that should get you up going for the following 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.