Photoshop Layer Styles, what are they?
Updated Nov 20, 2020
Adobe defines them as: “A layer style is one or more effects applied to a layer or layer group. You can apply any of the preset styles provided with Photoshop or create a custom style using the Layer Style dialog box…. Typically layer styles are used for text effects, but they can be used on images, backgrounds, and any other layer as well.”
More simply stated, with just the click of a button, you can apply different effects to your designs. You can move your design around on your canvas without losing any of the effects; and you can experiment with different styles quickly and easily to see what you like best. There are hundreds of different effects you can achieve using Styles; such as shadows, metals, bevels, wood, fabric, textures, acrylic, and glitter. Both Photoshop and Photoshop Elements come with a default set of Styles. You can also purchase Styles or create your own. Photoshop Layer Styles come in .asl format.
Where do I Find the Styles included with Photoshop?
- In the Menu Bar, choose Layer > Layer Style. Choose the Style you would like to use in the Fly-Out menu.
- Alternatively, click on the fx icon at the bottom of the Layers panel.
- OR, in the Menu Bar, go to Window > Styles. A Styles Panel will open on the right.
In Photoshop Elements: (Expert Mode)
- If you do not see the Styles icon at the bottom of the Layers panel, go to Window > Styles. At the top of the Styles panel, click on the drop-down arrow in the Styles search box to access the various styles available.
- Alternatively, if you do not see the Styles icon at the bottom of the Layers panel, click on the Styles icon at the bottom of the Layers panel.
How do I Load Styles That I Have Purchased?
- In the Styles panel, click on the 4 horizontal bars at the top right. In the Dropdown menu, choose Import Styles. In the window that opens, navigate to the Style (.asl file) you would like to load. Click Load.
- Alternatively, you can drag and drop an .asl file from your computer to the Photoshop workspace.
- OR, double-click on the .asl file on your computer to load the style. (If the style does not load, right-click on the .asl file, click on Properties, and set the “Opens with” to the program you would like to use.)
In Photoshop Elements:
- In the Styles panel, click on the 4 horizontal bars at the top right. In the Dropdown menu, choose Load Styles. In the window that opens, navigate to the Style (.asl file) you would like to load. Click Load.
- Alternatively, in the Menu Bar, go to Edit > Preset Manager. Click on the down-pointing arrow in the Preset Type bar and choose Styles. Click on Add. Navigate to the Style you want to load Click on the .asl file to select it. Click Load, then Done.
How do I Apply Photoshop Layer Styles?
- Click on the layer to which you would like to apply a Style.
- Click on the style that you would like to apply and it is instantly applied to the layer.
The image below contains 2 text layers with the word “Watercolor” on each layer. The layer labeled “before” is the text in greyscale, with no style applied. On the 2nd text layer (labeled “after”) has a watercolor layer style applied.
Styles are a quick and easy way to change anything from drab to amazing!
Layer Styles are easy and fun to use. If you haven’t used Styles before, I urge you to give them a try. They can become quite addicting.
Credit: The Watercolor Style used in this tutorial is from Watercolor Styles 04 by Karen Schulz Designs.
This tutorial was written using Photoshop CC 2020 and Photoshop Elements 2021. These instructions are applicable to both Windows and Mac users.