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Create sleek gel text with a 6-step custom layer style

Added on Tuesday 22nd of July 2008 07:25 am EST
Adobe Photoshop CS/CS2/CS3
Operating Systems:
Microsoft Windows, Macintosh

If you’re looking for a quick way to make some sleek, stylish gel text, Photoshop provides several preset styles which allow you to apply the effect quickly and easily. If you feel limited by the selection, however, then you may wish to create your own. We’ll show you how to create a custom gel style in six easy steps.

To create a new gel layer style, we’ll show you how to:

  • Create the type necessary to serve as the foundation for the gel effect.
  • Achieve a gel-like appearance from a flat object using a combination of six layer styles.
  • Save the final effect as a style, so you can apply it repeatedly with a single mouse click.

Who says you can only use the gel look for web buttons? As shown in Figure A, the appearance is also engaging for text because it looks so dimensional that you want to reach out and touch it. This effect is easy to apply because Photoshop includes several gel presets in the Web Styles collection, making it relatively simple to create these effects. If you’re ready for something new and improved, though, we’ll show you how to develop your own gel style.


Set the type
We’ll begin by creating a new Photoshop document and adding a text layer. Then we’ll apply color and walk you through the different layer styles options.

To create a new document and add the text:
  1. Launch Photoshop and create a new 5 in. wide by 3 in. high, 300 ppi, RGB document with a white background.
  2. Select the Type tool from the Tools palette and type some text in your document.
  3. Set the type options on the tool Options bar. For our example shown in Figure A, we used Cooper Std. Black, 100 pt. Note: A bold or thick font will work best for this technique.
  4. Press [command] ([Ctrl] in Windows) and click on the text thumbnail to select the type outline.
  5. With the selection active, click on the Create A New Layer button located at the base of the Layers palette to add a new layer to your document.
  6. Click on the Set Foreground Color box in the Tools palette to open the Color Picker, and enter the values: R=15, G=233, B=87 to produce a light green color. Click OK.
  7. With your new layer active, press [option][delete] ([Alt][Backspace] in Windows) to fill the text outline with the foreground color, as shown in Figure B.


  1. Press [command]D ([Ctrl]D in Windows) to Deselect All.
  2. Click the eye icon to the left of the text layer to turn off its visibility.

Create a new layer style in 6 easy steps
Now, we’ll apply six styles to our new layer and watch the gradual transformation to our flat shape. There are no smoke and mirrors to this trick, just shadows and color.

Step 1: Inner Shadow
The Inner Shadow effect enables us to add shadowing within the shape, as shown in Figure C. This gives our shape some dimension


To add an Inner Shadow:
  1. With the new layer selected, click on the Add A Layer Style button located at the base of the Layers palette and select Inner Shadow from the pop-up menu to display the Layer Style dialog box with the Inner Shadow option selected and highlighted.
  2. Choose Multiply from the Blend Mode pop-up menu.
  3. Click on the adjacent color box to open the Color Picker and enter the values: R=24, G=108, B=26 to produce a dark green shadow. Click OK.
  4. Lower the Opacity to 44%.
  5. Deselect the Use Global Light check box and set the Angle setting to 164 degrees.
  6. Set the Distance slider to 59, the ...