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  1. Design & Illustration
  2. Layer Styles

What Are Layer Styles?

Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

In Photoshop, you can change the look of a layer directly by changing its style. For example, you can give it a drop shadow, make it glow, or make text look 3D. The possibilities are endless! Most importantly, you can save your customization, creating a library of text effects that can be applied later to any other layer in any file. 

In this tutorial, I will show you what exactly layer styles are and how to use them.

Follow along with me over on our Envato Tuts+ YouTube Channel:

What Are Layer Styles?

You can access the Layer Style options by right-clicking the layer and selecting Blending Options. You can also double-click the layer. Let's take a look at these options one by one.

Bevel & Emboss

Bevel & Emboss makes the text look 3D. The effect may look harsh and outdated at first, but there are many settings that you can adjust to create something more subtle. You can also add a contour and a 3D texture here.

bevel and emboss layer style
bevel and emboss example


If you need to add a stroke to your text, you can do it here as well. It's also possible to use a gradient or pattern as a stroke.

stroke layer style
stroke example

Inner Shadow

Inner Shadow, as the name implies, is a shadow that gets placed inside the text, creating a 3D effect.

inner shadow layer style
inner shadow example

Inner Glow

Inner glow makes the letters glow from the inside.

inner glow layer style
inner glow example


Satin is a very powerful effect. It adds a little randomness to the surface, breaking its unnatural smoothness.

satin layer style
satin example

Color, Gradient, and Pattern Overlay

The panel allows you to fill the letters in three ways: with plain color, with gradient, and with a pattern.

color overlay layer style
pattern overlay example

Outer Glow

Finally, you can make the text glow by adding an Outer Glow...

outer glow layer style
outer glow example

Drop Shadow

... and put a shadow under the letters.

drop shadow layer style
drop shadow example

How to Use Layer Styles

But this was just a quick overview. Let's see how you can use these options to create a metal effect.

Step 1

Create a New File with these dimensions:

create new file

Step 2

Use the Paint Bucket Tool (G) to fill the background with black.

fill canvas with black

Step 3

Type some text in a big, bold font. The color of the text doesn't matter.

add text

Step 4

Right-click the text layer and select Blending Options, or alternatively double-click the layer.

First, drag the Fill Opacity down to 0. This will allow us to control the color fully within the layer style.

lower fill opacity

Step 5

Let's use with Pattern Overlay first to fill the text with some texture. You can use one of the default patterns or upload your own. Adjust the Scale and lower the Opacity to make the pattern darker.

add pattern overlay
pattern overlay on text

Step 6

The three types of Overlay can be mixed for a more interesting result. Check Gradient Overlay and change its Blend Mode to Overlay to make the pattern visible under it. Change the gradient to something more subtle, and switch the Style to Reflected. If you Reverse it, you'll get a nice metallic shine.

add gradient overlay
gradient overlay on text

Step 7

Add an Outer Glow now. Use white and make the glow wide and full of Noise. It may look pretty dramatic, but if you lower the Opacity, it creates a nice, subtle background.

add outer glow
outer glow on text

Step 8

Let's give the letters a subtle 3D look. If you don't like the heavy effect of Bevel & Emboss, you can use a workaround. Check Inner Glow to add a thin white outline inside the letters. This will simulate an illuminated edge.

add inner glow
inner glow on text

Step 9

Add an Inner Shadow now for some balance. Adjust the Angle to simulate a shadowed edge with it.

add inner shadow
inner shadow on text

Step 10

Let's add a Stroke, too, to accentuate the letters some more.

add stroke
stroke on text

Step 11

Finally, let's add Satin to our style. Change its Blend Mode to Overlay to keep the letters fully visible, and then play with the settings to add a little randomness to the shine.

add satin
satin on text

Step 12

If you press OK, you'll see a lot of options have been added to the layer. These options can be saved in the form of a Layer Style. Just open the Styles panel and click the white card icon to create a New Style. Now you can add the same style to any object, whether it's new text or a shape.

how to create new layer style
layer style application

Download Ready Layer Styles

Watercolor Text Effect

Because Layer Styles can be saved and applied so easily, you can also easily use styles created by other people. You can apply an interesting effect to your text without having to experiment with all these options. 

For example, this set contains 15 watercolor effects. You just have to select your layer and click the style that you want to apply. Of course, you can still customize the effect afterwards.

watercolor text effect
Watercolor text effects

Shiny Text Effect

This set contains gold and shiny effects that will make your text sparkle. They're perfect for a poster or a flyer, immediately bringing attention to the text. Again, you don't need to know how to achieve such a result—just click the style to apply it.

shny text effect
Shiny text effects

Engraved Text Effect

This set lets you achieve a unique engraving effect. It creates proper edges and adds the characteristic inner shadow to give an impression of the text being engraved in some material, depending on the background you use. Of course, it can be used not only for text, but also for logos and images. 

engraved text effect
Engraved text effects

Mixed Text Effect

And here's a very universal set containing a mix of 33 styles. This set has it all: fabric, leather, jeans, gold, rainbow, chrome, wood—basically anything you can think of. It can be used for many applications, saving you a lot of time along the way.

mixed text effect
Mixed text effects

Good Job!

You now know how to add layer styles to text and shapes. If you want to learn more about layer styles, you'll love these tutorials as well:

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