How to Create & Apply Preset Styles in Adobe Photoshop

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May 10, 2021
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Styles are one of the first places you, as a new editor, will go when you launch Adobe Photoshop. If you’re working with text at all, you’re most likely going to want to add some flavor to that text. After all, boring text is, well, boring. There are a million different combinations of effects that you can add to jazz things up.

In today’s post, I’d like to talk about some preset styles that Photoshop has to offer. As I’ve written in previous posts, we have the ability to add our own styles, one effect at a time. If you’d like to read these previous posts, please feel free to click through the links below.

Layer Effects & Styles in Adobe Photoshop

How to Scale Styles with Object Size in Adobe Photoshop

How to Animate Layer Effects (Styles) with Video in Adobe Photoshop

Preset styles are styles that have been created by the folks over at Adobe. In their most basic sense, they’re individual effects that have been combined with one another to create an overall look. Those “looks” have been saved inside of Photoshop and can be easily accessed to apply to pretty much anything. These effects include drop shadows, beveled edges, embossing and so much more.

Where to Find Style Presets​

Photoshop certainly doesn’t hide the style presets. Off the top of my head, I can think of two really easy ways to get to them. First, there’s an entire panel dedicated to them. If you click the Window > Styles menu item, you’ll end up looking right into this panel. In my install of Photoshop, the panel is already available in the right column. It’s nested with the Adjustments panel. To access the styles, I’ll just click the Styles tab.


Another way to access the styles is to double-click on a layer. When the Layer Style dialog box appears, click the Style option that sits at the top of the left column.


Both of these methods will allow you to choose a style to apply to your layer.

Changing Style Views​

Currently, the styles are shown as small thumbnails. It’s oftentimes difficult to see exactly what the styles are without descriptions. With this in mind, Adobe has given us the ability to change the way we view those icons. We can create lists with either small or large icons or simple small or large icons without a list (description). The way to access these changes is to, in the Styles panel, click the small menu in the top right corner. A menu will appear that offers many different options. In this case, I chose to change the view from Small Thumbnail to Large List. You can see the list behind the menu in the screenshot below.


If I was in the Layer Style dialog box, I would click on the small gear menu button that sits at the upper right corner of the style box and choose a new view from the menu that pops up. In this case, I chose Large Thumbnail.


How to Append Styles​

I’m not sure if you noticed this or not, but I don’t really have all that many styles to choose from. This doesn’t mean that additional styles aren’t hiding in the background, waiting for me to add them to the list of what I can take advantage of. To append additional styles to either of the styles panels I discussed above, I’ll simply click one or more of the available options down in the lower portion of the menu I just showed you.


When the confirmation box appears that asks if I want to replace or append the styles to those that already exist, I’ll click Append. This will add to the existing styles as opposed to replace them.


Once I click that button, I’ll see the available styles grow in number.

Applying Styles​

If you’ve never worked with styles before, you’re probably wondering what in the world I’m talking about in this post. Well, let me take this opportunity to show you something. I’ve gone ahead and written out some simple text. It’s black on a white background. It says, “STYLES.”


Now, I’m going to go into the Layer Style dialog box and click on a random style icon. Let’s see what happens.


In this case, I clicked on the Liquid Rainbow style. While it looks really cool, there may be a few things about it that I want to change. The question is, how do I see the individual effects that were used to create the style? That’s easy. Once I choose that style or even if I choose the style, click the OK button to apply it and then double-click on the layer to come back to it later on, all I need to do is take a look at the left column of the Layer Style dialog.


After choosing a style, all of the other optional effects disappear from the left column. All that’s left are those effects that were used for this particular style. If I wanted to change anything or even add new effects to this combination, I could accomplish all that by clicking around the left column and then working in the individual effect areas to the right. Again, to see how to add and manipulate individual effects, please click through those links I added to the top of this post.

Adding Multiple Styles​

If you’d like to add multiple preset styles to one layer, all you need to do is hold down the Shift key on your keyboard while clicking on the styles in the Styles panel. As of right now, this trick only works in the Styles panel and not inside the Layer Style dialog box. You’ll know you’ve added multiple styles if you keep your eye, not only on the layer itself in the work area, but also on the layer in the Layers panel. You’ll see the list of effects growing there.


Creating a Layer Style​

Let’s say I applied a preset style and then made some modifications to it. Let’s also say that I know I’ll want to use this modified style again in the future. Instead of applying this default preset style to each and every layer in the future and then modifying it again and again, I can modify it just once and save that modification as a new style.

I’ve gone ahead and applied the Shaded Red Bevel style to my demo text. I also went in and made the drop shadow a bit larger than the original called for. Since I’d like to save this as a new style to be used again, I’ll click the New Style button in the Layer Style dialog. When I do this, the New Style dialog box appears, where I can name the new style. I’ll call this one, Shaded Red Bevel – Shadow and then click OK.


Now, if I look at the bottom of the preset styles list in either panel, I’ll see the one I just created.


By the way, this is the style I’m referring to.


As you can see, there’s a lot you can do with styles in Adobe Photoshop, whether it be to styles you create yourself or to preset styles created by the folks at Adobe. They’re very flexible and should help out a lot with your projects. I hope I clearly explained how to work with preset styles today. If you have any questions regarding this post, please leave them in the comment area below. Thanks for reading!