Tuesday, January 4, 2011

How to load a custom style into Photoshop

For each post in my new series "100 Styles" I will post the file needed to recreate the styles in that days post, this post describes how to load that file into Photoshop to be able to use it and experiment with the style. The screenshots are from Photoshop CS4, but the process should be more or less the same in older/newer versions. Also, I'm using the Windows version of Photoshop, but as far as I know the only thing that's different on a Mac is that the dialogs look a bit different so that shouldn't make any difference. First download the file to a place that's easy to find, the Desktop is usually a good place (you can delete the file as soon as you've loaded it into Photoshop, so no need to be afraid of cluttering up the Desktop).

Click to see a larger version.
To load a custom style launch the Preset Manager by going to the Edit menu and then clicking on Preset Manager.

Click the image to see a larger version
When the Preset Manager has launched, click the Preset Type: dropdown menu, and choose Styles, next click the Load button.

Click the image to see a larger version
Next navigate to the file and select it, next click on the Load button.

And the preview images show up to indicate that the styles have been added (as you can see the preview images aren't always a very good indication of what the actual effect looks like). Now you can click the Done button and you're ready to apply the style to an layer of your own.

Click the image to see a larger version
To apply the style you've just downloaded, just double-click on the layer (in the Layers panel) you want to apply it to which brings up the Layer Style dialog box, there select Styles in the list to the left, and in the middle area scroll down to the bottom of the list (may look different, but in either case, the last loaded style/styles should be at the end/bottom) and select the style to apply it to the current layer. Then edit/check any setting you may want to change and click OK when you're done.


  • Effects may be better suited to a certain type of layer, some effects work best on photos, some on text layers or objects. For the best results check the example image I provide to see what kind of effect it is.
  • Effects often give very different results depending on the size of the image, in most cases it's simply a matter of editing the effect to fit the size of your document/layer. I will provide a note on which dimension the style is designed for, if your document is larger raise sizes and vice versa. If you still can't get the effect to look the same way as in my example please tell me in the comments and I'll try to help you.
  • Many effects rely on there being transparent pixels on the layer, if you try to apply an effect that's been designed for a layer with transparent pixels to a layer that covers the entire canvas, please be aware that it may not at all look like you expect it to.
  • Layer styles can not be applied to the background layer, to apply styles to it you must first convert it to a normal layer. There are a multitude of ways to do that, but one of the easiest is to hold down the Alt key and double click on the layer in the Layers panel, that converts it to a normal layer with the name "Layer 0".

That's it for this guide, good luck with trying out some of the styles I provide and experiment to come up with your own. If there's anything above that's not clear to you please post a comment and I'll try to improve the guide to make it easier to understand (also if something is significantly different in another version I'd be glad if you'd tell me so I could point that out for users of that version).

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