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How to create layer effect presets in Photoshop

There is a small set of effects that can be applied to layers or groups of layers in Photoshop. These include common visual effects like a stroke, a drop shadow, a color overlay, and more. If you’re working with a file where you need to apply multiple effects over and over, but you do not want to have to set them up each time you want to apply them, you can create layer effect presets.

Be warned that this has limitations. It only works for effects that can be applied to a single layer more than once. For example a single layer can have a color stroke in multiple colors however, it can only have one pattern overlay. This means you can create several stroke presets but only one setting for the pattern overlay.

Layer effect presets

Go ahead and create at least one unlocked layer in a Photoshop file. It can be an empty layer, a layer with an image in it, or just a text layer. Double-click it to open the Effects window. Look through the list of effects that can be applied. Every effect which has a plus sign next to it can be applied multiple times to the same layer i.e., you can create presets for it.

I’m working with the Stroke effect as an example. Set up how you want to use the effect and then click the plus button next to it (in the column on the left).

This will create a second instance of the same effect. Changes you make to this instance will not be applied to the previous one. They both exist independent of each other. Repeat this for as many presets you need to make.

Apply the effects

Applying an effect is simple; you enable the check box next to it. Enable only the effect you want to use e.g., if I wanted to use the red stroke effect, I’d enable the first Stroke effect that I’d created. If I wanted to add a yellow stroke, I’d enable the second one.

These presets are not exclusive to just one Photoshop file. They will show up no matter which file you have open. If you need to get rid of a preset, select it and click the trash button at the bottom of the column on the left. Creating and deleting the effects is easy enough but if you want, you can always edit one of the existing effects instead of adding a new one. In fact, that’s a good way to keep the effects’ list from getting cluttered.

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