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Learn How to Use Photoshop Elements

Lesson 19 of 58

How to Use Layer Styles


Learn How to Use Photoshop Elements

Lesson 19 of 58

How to Use Layer Styles


Lesson Info

How to Use Layer Styles

Now, if we're trying to create a realistic scene, which I think what we'd be after in this case, we have to edit this a little bit. We have to pay attention to some details. We have some shadow happening here under this starfish, and this is a dead giveaway that this totally out of place 'cause there is no shadow. There's no evidence that this is actually in the image that we are putting it in, so we're gonna fix that by adding an effect, or a layer style, I should say, to this layer. Down here at the bottom of our screen, we have all these buttons that pull up these different panels. Right now, we're looking at our Layers panel. We have the Effects panel that we saw before and we can click here and see all kinds of different effects. We saw a lot of this in the Quick Edit workspace. We can come over here and there are filters. We can explore these later, but these are things, like you can turn your image into a sponge painting, a water color painting, there's artistic filters, there a...

re, believe it or not, noise filters. You may wonder why would would you ever want to add noise to your image? Well, you would be surprised. There's all kinds of things there. What we're looking for is found actually under this Styles button, and that's because it's what's referred to as a Layer style, so we're gonna take the contents of that layer and style it up something fancy, and we have several different styles of things that we can apply to our layers, and in this case, the thing that we want to apply is going to be this Drop Shadow, so I'm going to click to select that. All that does is now show me my Drop Style options from within my Styles panel over here. If I hover over them, it's kinda hard to tell what they really are, so when you're first exploring this, it really pays, I think, to just go slowly and hover on stuff. So if I hover over this, it tells me, "Oh, this is a Fill slash Outline Drop Shadow." Not what we want. This is a Hard Edge Drop Shadow. If we look at the shadow that exists in our scene already, we see that it's pretty soft, it's quite soft, so this is not going to be a good match. If we hover over here, this is a High Drop Shadow, a Low Drop Shadow, some Neon, Noisy, Outline again, and then we have this Soft Edge. Whichever one you're looking for, to apply it, all you do is give it a double-click. In this case, we're gonna start with the Soft Edge, so I suppose, like this looks like a pretty soft edge. It's a high shadow. We don't want that, necessarily. We don't necessarily want the low, so whatever one we pick, we're gonna have to do some tweaking to, so it's not terribly important that we choose so carefully, but we'll just start with this Soft Edge. To apply it, I'm just gonna double-click, and maybe that's it, let's take over. Oh, yeah, that applied it. Alright, so that's a little bit different in Version 15, which is nice. We just click it and it applies it right over here to the seashell layer. We know that it had been applied because we can kind of see. If I zoom in, you can see that there's a little shadow happening over here, but that maybe hard to see for some people, and depending on your image. Another way that we can confirm that it's there is by looking right here in the Layers panel and we see that an Effects icon has been applied, so that tells us that there's some special effect that's been applied to this layer. Now, what gets confusing is next time you're doing this and you're thinking, "I want to add that drop shadow," it makes you want to come down here to this Effects button because you think that's where the effects are, but no, what we just did is under this Style button even though it shows us in the Layers panel with an Effects icon. I think this is a throwback to simpler times when all of these things were just called Effects and that's how it was in Photoshop, but for whatever reason, that's how we still roll. So we know that that's been applied. Now we want to edit this because we need to make it a better match for what we see going on with this starfish. To do that, I'm just gonna double-click that little icon, and we get this pop-up. This is our Style Settings window. We can do lots of different things in here. We can adjust the lighting angle, which is still hard to see a little bit right now, so before we do that, let's pop down here and talk about these things. We have three controls for size, distance, and opacity. Size has to do with the size of the light source, actually, so this is kinda funny 'cause you look at that and you think it's the size of the shadow, like make the shadow large or small, but I think it's referring to the size of the light source incidentally because a larger light source is gonna produce a softer shadow. So that's the way I always think of it anyway. If we want to make this shadow softer, like what we see with the starfish, we're gonna drag that to the right. The distance is going to change the distance between your subject, it's gonna make it look like, your object I guess, is close to you or far from whatever scene, objects that your putting it into. Now it looks like the seashell's floating above the scene. That's not what we want. If we drag the distance too low, then we may not see much of our shadow at all, so it's a little bit of a happy medium. Maybe something like that. The opacity adjusts how intense that shadow looks, like how well we can see it. It's either 100% there or you can fade it away. I'm gonna fade it a bit, and you know, I feel like I'm having a hard time seeing, so I'm gonna click OK, and I'm gonna press the Space Bar so I can zoom my image, or scoot my image around and I'm gonna hit Command, or on a PC, CTRL-minus to back up a little bit. I can see this within the greater context of the actual image, so now let's tweak this again. Again, I'll just double-click that little Effects button, and then if I want to move this around and I don't want to mess with this, I can also just drag within the image, and I'm adjusting the distance and I'm adjusting the lighting angle. My goal is to just make this match over here, which is also why I positioned this shell the way I did 'cause the light, if we look at this star, the light is coming in from up here and shining this way, so it's casting shadows down like that. I want to be attempting to mimic that same look. If I put the shadow over here, then that, it looks super wrong. Even if you maybe can't articulate why that looks wrong, your brain knows something's not right with this photo because the shadows don't match and that's not how the world looks around us, so the world has matching shadows unless you're in a photo studio. Then you can do what you want. Maybe something like that. We'll just pretend that we love it and that is good. We'll go ahead and click OK. Let's zoom out so you can see. That's looking pretty awesome. Let's grab our other image so again, we can go down to the photo bin or we have these tabs up at the top. This is how it is in the other Photoshop and this is all we have up there. So we can tab over as well. Now we have this seashell and we could do the same thing. We could grab this Quick Selection brush and just brush over it. Let's see if this one gives us any bit of a tricky business. Well, it actually did, ooh, almost a great perfect job. I see, if we really want to be picky, I can see a few things that it didn't include. Now the one question to think about is how picky do we really need to be? That depends on what you're doing. Some people out there are very Type A and you're gonna want it perfect no matter what and go for it. If you have the time, do it. This is a pretty easy example, so that's no big deal. For other people, it's more like, you know, you just make it as good as you need it to be for whatever output you're using. If I was gonna try to cut this seashell out and put it on a white background, I'd have to be much more careful because I would see the edges a lot more clearly, but in this case, I'm not too worried about being super picky about it. I'm just gonna do a few things to clean this up. One thing I can do is make my brush smaller so I can get some of these detailed areas. I'm just pressing that left bracket key to make the cursor smaller and then I'm just gonna brush over the parts that it missed, and now I've created a new problem where now it's spilled out and collected the sand on the edge. So this is great, how do we fix that? We have a couple ways. We can come here. These are the modifier keys that control how the selection tools work. We have this button here. If I paint with this, I'll actually lose the selection because I'd be making a new one entirely. This is the New Selection button. This button adds, so if I have that button active, I can keep painting and I can add to my selection like this little spot here needs to be added, so I'm just gonna brush over that while I have the Add button on. But this area that I've screwed up now needs to be subtracted so that's this third option over here. Now I just brush over, brush over the edge and just tuck it back up in there, and again, maybe if I go too far, I'll just switch back to the Add, and then I can go over it like that. Another way that you can do this without having to stop and come down and click is you can just use your keyboard. If I hold down the Alt or Option key, we see we change from a plus to a minus inside the circle, and then I can just keep holding the Alt or the Option key down and if I brush over it, it'll subtract, and then when I'm done with it, I just let go and then I'm back to adding. Now, I'm gonna scoot back around and clean up the selection in a few more areas. Instead of scrolling like this and then having to scroll again maybe over this way, instead of that, I'm just gonna press and hold my Space Bar, which gives me the Hand tool temporarily, and as long as I hold the Space Bar down, I can just drag in my image and go where I wanna go. When I get there, I'll let go of the Space Bar and I'm back in business. I'll make my brush a little smaller with the left bracket key, and I'm just gonna brush over those little bits, Space Bar-drag. See what else is, there's another little piece right here. Okay, so that's, I think that's about as good as I need to be for this particular example. So got that all selected. Now if you remember how we combine things, we grab this Move tool right here. I'm gonna get the photo bin and I'm gonna click and drag down into the image, and here's an example of where it bounced into space. Here we see layer one, which tells me it landed, but where is it, I can't see it, until I start dragging around and then I see that it landed over here. That's what happens, or can happen, if you don't hold-Shift. That's always a good idea to hold-Shift. So we need to do the same process that we did before. Now we're gonna scale this down one more time. I'm gonna press on hold Command-T just for a moment and then drag this in. Again, no need to hold Shift because this is already constraining proportions. So we'll put this about here, maybe spin it this way a little bit. Looks good. When we're happy with it, we can click this check mark or I can just press Enter or Return on my keyboard. Now, we want to add the same drop shadow to this image, but instead of having to recreate it from scratch, which, if you did this a lot, that would take up a lot of time and just get old pretty quickly, so what we're gonna do here is actually just, if I right-click on this seashell layer, and I can choose Copy Layer Style from the menu that pops up, then I can right-click on layer one and choose Paste Layer Style. Look at that, and now the shadow is matching this one and I didn't have to recreate it again from scratch. That was pretty easy. That's a composite with just combining three images, adding these two into this starfish image. If I want to move these and adjust them in my Layers panel, I can move each of these individually by targeting the layer that I'm looking to move, and then moving it, so if I want to select this shell down here, I have to come up here in my Layers panel and select the layer, the corresponding layer, so let's rename this one and we'll call it Seashell Two. So this is Seashell Two. If I wanted to move both of them together as a unit, I can click and Shift-click to select them both, and then I can move them all around as one, and I can operate it like that. That's a look at making some really simple selections and combining multiple images together as one.

Class Description

We all have hundreds of images on our smartphones and cameras that we never do anything with. Adobe Photoshop Elements is the perfect tool for beginners to use for organizing and editing those images. Khara Plicanic will show you the practical ways to use this software by using step-by-step projects you can follow along with at home. You’ll get hands-on practice at making selections and working with layers, doing simple retouching, and adding text to your images.

You’ll also learn: 

• Basic adjustments to color and adding contrast to photos 
• Understanding resolution and image resizing and how to use the crop tool 
• Simple retouching and image compositing

No Photoshop Elements class would be complete without shedding light on file saving and organizing your images for a complete workflow! By the time you’re finished with this class, you’ll be creating beautiful images to share with your family and friends.

Software Used: Adobe Photoshop CC 2015


  1. Class Introduction
  2. Understand How Elements Works
  3. Importing Images
  4. Workspace Basics: Organizer
  5. Workspace Basics: Editor
  6. Tonal Adjustments in Quick Fix
  7. Color Adjustments in Quick Fix
  8. Apply Black & White Filters
  9. Sharpen an Image
  10. Fix Red Eye & Pet Eye
  11. Straighten an Image in Quick Fix
  12. Explanation of Photoshop Elements
  13. Basic Cropping in Quick Fix
  14. Guided Edit Overview
  15. Guided Edit: Tilt Shift
  16. Ways to Save Files
  17. Layers & Simple Selections
  18. Combine Images with Layers
  19. How to Use Layer Styles
  20. Make Selections with Layers
  21. Make Selection with Lasso
  22. Compositing with Multiple Images
  23. Refine Edge Selection on Image
  24. Use Refine Edge on Images
  25. Create Gradient in Image
  26. Gradient Map Differences
  27. Options for Saving
  28. Brushes Overview
  29. Creatively Use Brushes
  30. How to Change Brush Settings
  31. Use Shape Tool with Brushes
  32. Work with Multiple Shape Layers
  33. Finish Image with Custom Shape Tool
  34. How to Load Brushes into Elements
  35. Add Layer Style to Image
  36. Clip Image to Shape & Use as Template
  37. Retouching Overview
  38. How to Use Content-Aware Fill
  39. How to Use Content-Aware Move Tool
  40. Spot Healing Brush on Blemishes
  41. Remove Frown Lines with Retouching
  42. How to Remove Tattoos
  43. Remove a Gap in Teeth
  44. How to Whiten Teeth
  45. Adjust Facial Features
  46. Working with Type Overview
  47. Match Type for Image
  48. How to Manipulate Type Layers
  49. Create Postcard with Type
  50. Add Type on a Path
  51. Organizing Images in Elements
  52. Add Keywords to Images
  53. Smart Tags Overview
  54. Using Albums in Elements
  55. Places Workspace Overview
  56. Use Event Tags on Images
  57. Timeline for Image Organization
  58. Recommended Workflow


a Creativelive Student

Just watching this class live. It's my first class with Khara; she is a wonderful teacher, moving at a steady speed but always being careful to let us know what she's doing in the moment. I would classify myself as intermediate in terms of PSE but I've learned lots of little things that will make further use even easier and more fun. I really appreciated her descriptions of the difference between PS and PSE and her encouragement in using Photoshop Elements and all that it can do.


I have only been able to watch portions of this class but every single part that I have watched has been technically clear and inspiring to me. Based on this experience and the thorough, 58 item list of lessons, I will surely be buying this class soon! Thank you Khara and Creativelive for making a class on this topic and making it be super!!

Ven S

Great course. You can tell she knows the programme inside out.