Discover: Photoshop CC2015’s New Layer Style Options


Photoshop’s layer styles—multiple appearance attributes that allow you to quickly create a more complex look for content on a layer or in a layer group—were originally introduced in Photoshop 6.0, around fifteen years ago; let’s take a look at that splash screen, just for a bit of contextual nostalgia:


Ok, that’ll do.

Layer styles provide a variety of effects—such as shadows, glows, overlays and bevels—to change the appearance of a layer’s contents and the styles are linked to the layer contents; if you change the contents of a layer—for example, a text layer, perhaps—then the style is automatically applied to the new/modified text if you change it.

Layer styles have been a very useful addition to Photoshop—especially for designers—but they haven’t been shown any love in terns of updates for a while; fortunately Photoshop CC2015 has changed all that and has introduced the ability to add up to ten—yes 10—instances of select layer style attributes:

  • Stroke
  • Inner Shadow
  • Color Overlay
  • Gradient Overlay
  • Drop Shadow

stylesThe styles applied to the text above includes multiple strokes, and a couple of gradient overlays (using different blending options):

stylesDialogThis is the sort of thing that in previous versions would perhaps have required rasterization to achieve, which kind of defeats the dynamic advantages that layer styles offer; apart from the ability to simply edit the text without creating loads of extra work, using layer styles with text variables is really powerful!

In the dialog, attributes can have their stacking order changed in relation to other attributes of the same type; strokes can be reordered next to each other, but can’t be moved above or below other attribute types at the current time. Just to be clear, in the above example any of the stroke attributes can be moved up or down above/beneath other strokes, but the strokes can’t be moved below the Inner Shadow or above the Bevel and Emboss.

Layer Styles can be added to CC Libraries, which means that other people on your team or other collaborators can apply them to layers in their projects with a click!


Explore The CC Charts Preview

In the UK and US—at the current time—Illustrator users have access to an exciting new technology preview: CC Charts. Technology previews are features and services that are released to the public that allows users to use the features and feed back to help guide development; this is a much faster way to work perhaps than with a smaller group of beta testers for an extended period, and will lead to a feature (or service) that is immediately more relevant to users.

In an earlier post, we looked at creating graphics for graphs—which are of course an essential part of infographics—but we sometimes want to do much more interesting things to represent the numbers and it would be necessary to expand the graph object to do that; CC Charts gives us more control and flexibility to create without breaking the link to the data.

Creating a New Chart

Select the CC Charts Tool—you’ll find it in the graphing tools family—then click and drag on the artboard to create a chart of the desired size. Note: at the time of writing, the only kind of chart you can create is a scale value chart but more chart types should appear throughout the year.

Beneath the chart you’ll see the Charts Widget—there are a few functions in the widget:

  • The Hot-dog button above the widget is a visibility toggle for the widget
  • The information icon at the bottom-right launches a set of screens telling you more about CC Charts
  • The chart types at the top of the widget will become available as the feature develops
  • The icon at the bottom-left allows you to duplicate the chart
  • The Edit on Creative Cloud button gets you into the CC Charts service in your web browser

Editing Chart Artwork


  1. Changing the default artwork is very easy; start by drawing new art or add some art to the artboard—this could be content from your shared CC libraries, or even something from market or from the Shape mobile app. Just keep in mind that complex objects (such as things containing gradient mesh art and rasterized objects) are not supported.
  2. Drag the artwork onto the chart!
  3. The chart updates with the new art in place and scaled to represent the values.

Editing The Chart in Creative Cloud Web View

The chances are quite high that you’ll want to modify the chart data, and to do that we need to click on the Edit on Creative Cloud button; this will open in your default browser.


Immediately above the chart in this view you’ll have a link to modify the data; in this screen you’ll see the default values to draw your initial chart—you can either type new values into the cells directly or import data from a spreadsheet (.csv, .xls or .xlsx files) using the plus icon above the data or the big Import Data button to the right.

editChartDataOnce the data is imported, you’ll need to select the range of data to be used in the chart. Click on the first value and shift-click on the last value in the range. Once you do so, an Apply button/menu will appear; clicking the hot-dog menu will reveal other options for  editing or transforming the data. When done, tap Apply to commit the data to the chart—you’ll see it update in the preview window on the right—and then you can return to the Chart ‘tab’.



Initially, your chart will be in free-form mode; in this mode you can drag the individual value representations to alternate locations, set the scale base size for the art or change to stretch-to-fit representation.



With the flow mode you can control various alignment and spacing options directly in the browser:


Once done, you can click Save and the chart will be added to your active CC Library:



You can edit the chart with the Direct Selection Tool, including repositioning the representations and modifying colours. You may for example want to reposition representations in your artwork to illustrate geographically related values over a map, for example:


The great thing is that you’re still linked to the data in CC Charts. If you click the button to edit, you’ll see that everything is just as it is in the artwork, so if you had some values to modify, it would simply be a matter of changing the values and saving the chart—it would update automatically in the document.


A Few More Hints & Tips

When you’re editing a chart on Creative Cloud, in addition to modifying the data and the appearance of the chart, you can perform a few other actions:

  • Share: Click Share > Send Link to forward a link of the image of the chart to a client or colleague via email.
  • See Details: Next to the Edit Chart tab in the web view, you can click the link to view various details about the chart, such as the creation/modification dates/times and file size. 
  • Change Your View: Above the chart in the web view, you can specify a zoom value, choose to fit the chart to the available space, or a 1:1 view.

To rename or delete your chart, use the Actions menu above the Save button.


Remember that you can influence the development of CC Charts—when you’re in the web view there’s a Feedback tab at the bottom of the screen that takes you to a survey form, where you can rate and add comments on CC Charts. You’ll be helping to shape this feature.




InDesign’s New Publish Online Preview

InDesign CC2015 has a really exciting new Preview feature: Publish Online. You can produce rich, interactive documents that can be viewed on a browser and on just about any device without requiring a plugin. Your published documents can also be shared to Facebook directly from the publish screen, and managed via a web dashboard: File > Web Dashboard…

You can use the Animation, Timing, Media and Hypelinks Panels, as well as create Multi-state objects with buttons to control interactivity.

Here’s an example I posted today: A Field Guide to Adobe Comp CC

Try out this exciting new publishing preview feature today!

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