Layer styles might not have been exclusively meant for working with type, but they do it so well that I nearly always use at least one, and sometimes more. That's why, although I intend to come back to using layer styles in Chapter 26, I want to tell you a bit about them here.
A layer style is a special effect such as a shadow or glow that affects all the objects on a layer. You can combine layer styles, such as an outer glow and chrome, to create a complex effect. If you want to use a layer style to format just the type in an image, that type must be on its own layer. With the horizontal and vertical Type tools, that's not a problem, since Elements creates a new layer whenever you use the tool. But if you use the Type Mask tools to create a type selection, make sure you first create a new layer to put it on.
Once you have some type or a type mask on a layer, to apply a layer style, open the Layer Styles palette. If it's not in the palette well, you can display it by choosing Window, Layer Style. Open the drop-down list and select a category such as Drop Shadow. The palette displays a list of layer styles for that category. Click a style to apply it to the text on that layer.
When you apply a style, it shows up in the Layers palette as a cursive letter f to the right of the layer name , as shown in Figure 23.45. Because the Undo History palette only tells you that you've applied a style, and not which one, you'll need to pay attention to what you are doing. Also, if you select another layer style, it's added to the first style. Thus, it's easy to get confused about which styles you've added. To remove all styles from a layer, click the Clear Style button at the top of the Layer Styles palette. (It looks sort of like an aspirin tablet.)
Figure 23.45. I suppose it's meant to be a "stylish" f.
The most effective layer styles to use with text include Drop Shadows, Bevel (which provides bevel and emboss styles), Wow Chrome, and Wow Neon, to name a few. For example, you can improve the appearance of most type with a drop shadow, which adds dimension. Just don't overdo it. In Figure 23.46, you can see what a difference a simple shadow makes.
Figure 23.46. This is the preset shadow, called Low.
You can vary the effect of these layer styles by changing the blending modes and varying the opacity. As always, the best way to see what they do is to experiment with different settings.
Editing Layer Styles
If a layer style gives you almost, but not quite what you want, you can go back and edit the settings. You can reach the Style Settings dialog box either by choosing Layer, Layer Style, Style Settings, or by double-clicking on the style symbol (the cursive f ) on the Layer palette. The Style Settings box is shown in Figure 23.47. You can change the position of the light, which determines the direction in which shadows are dropped, glows are cast, textures are lit, and so on.
Figure 23.47. Items that don't relate to a particular setting are grayed out and can't be changed.
You can also apply global light, which is a very clever way of keeping your shadows in line. Global light dictates that the light setting (in degrees) that you make here, or in any of the other dialog boxes that deal with light or shadow direction, will remain constant. If you put type with a drop shadow on another layer, the new shadow will match the old one. If you add a shape with a reflected glow, it will be lit from the same source. This is more important than it sounds at first. We live on a planet that has a single sun as its main light source. One light source produces one shadow, and that's what we are used to seeing. When you come inside and turn on a couple of lamps plus maybe the overhead fluorescent bulb, you've complicated things. Now there are several possible directions in which the shadow can go. The strength of the brightest light determines what you actually see. Designating a global light in your composition forces all the shadows you apply to fall in line. With the Style Settings dialog box, you can also change the height and size of a bevel, glow, or shadow.
Task: Applying Layer Styles to Text