Photoshop layer styles are a popular way to add effects, such as drop shadows and strokes, to layers in a non-destructive way. With the right knowledge and experience, any effect can be achieved. To achieve these effects, however, you need to understand what each setting does and how they can be combined to create a certain look. In this series by John Shaver from Design Panoply, we will explain every aspect of Photoshop’s layer styles feature and show you how to unlock their potential.
In this article, Part 7: How to Apply the Satin Setting to Layer Style Effects, we will explain the settings behind Satin and the ways it can be used to create different effects. Let’s get started.
The Uses For Satin
Satin is one of the more obscure settings within Photoshop Layer Styles, but if you know how to use it, you can create a few different effects.
In addition to creating a silk or satin look, it can also be used to add additional depth and even more realistic detail to glass and metal effects.
The Layer Styles Satin Dialog Box
Satin creates two copies of your layer, then offsets and blurs them to produce the final result. You may not be able to picture it, but it is easy to understand once you see it in action.
There isn’t much to the Satin dialog box, and we have seen most of these settings before. All that’s left to do is jump in and see how they interact with each other.
The Blend Mode allows you to set the blending mode for your Satin, while the color box, expectedly, allows you to choose the color.
A good place to start is Linear Burn using the color black, or Linear Dodge (Add) using the color white. This will allow you to see how Satin works, while at the same time applying the most realistic looking effect.
If you are unfamiliar with how all the different Blending Modes work, I highly recommend checking out the Blending Is Fun Basix tutorial.
In the following example, using a white color with Linear Dodge (Add) as the blending mode lightens our text while using black with Linear Burn as the blending mode darkens it.
Our good old friend Opacity. A smaller number here makes for a more subtle effect and increasing the Opacity makes it more pronounced.
In the following example, you can see that a lower Opacity has a predictably more subtle impact on our final effect.
The Angle spinner sets the angle at which our Satin effect is offset from the original shape. You can enter a number in the box, or drag the line around using your mouse.
The following example may not be the prettiest, but it clearly shows how adjusting the Angle can change the look of your style. Used in conjunction with other effects, changing the Satin Angle can help you get more realistic looking lighting.
The Distance slider changes the distance that the Satin gets offset from our original shape. This is extra helpful when you are trying to create reflections for glass styles.
In the following example, you can see how slightly increasing the Distance of our white Satin effect gives us bigger reflections on our glass text.
The Size slider sets the blur size of the Satin. The larger the value is, the blurrier it gets. A modest Size value will typically yield the most realistic results.
In the following example, the lower Size setting gives the lighting on our cookie style a harder edge.
Contour curves change the falloff of the Satin effect. A linear or slight "S-curve" are the best to begin with. More dynamic Contour shapes can help you get more interesting reflective effects.
The Anti-aliased checkbox will smooth out any hard edges when checked, and the Invert checkbox will flip your Contour upside down.
In the following example, you can see how changing our Contour gives us a more reflective looking double highlight on our text.
Saving and Loading Default Settings
You can save and load default settings for each effect in the Layer Styles dialog box. By clicking "Make Default", Photoshop will store whatever settings are currently active as the new default settings for that effect.
By clicking "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.
One For The Road
Until next time, this free, exclusive layer style and accompanying .PSD will show you some clever usage of the Satin effect.