Bevel & Emboss

The bevel effects make an object look as though it has been chiselled away, and is great for giving hard, sharp edges. The emboss options are a bit softer and make objects seem to rise out of the document or look as though they have been stamped into the page. In addition to deciding on a bevel or emboss, you also have control over the size of the effect, the direction of light and shadows and the shape of the edges. The option to apply a texture is also worth investigating and opens up even more options.

With the Layer Style window open and the Bevel and Emboss checkbox checked, go to the Style drop-down menu in the middle section to pick whether you go for a bevel or an emboss.

Working with Layer Styles - understanding Bevel and Emboss in Adobe Photoshop CS3 Extended

Bevel and Emboss options:

Style – this is where you choose the type of beveling that you want to apply.Outer Bevel adds a bevel outside the layer boundary, giving the impression of the layer being raised from its background.
Inner Bevel adds the bevel inside the layer boundary instead, making the layer itself look beveled and 3D.
Emboss adds a bevel across the layer boundary, giving the impression of the layer being stamped on the underlying layers.
Pillow Emboss adds shading to both the inside and outside of the layer boundary to make the layer look like it’s embedded in the underlying layers.
Stroke Emboss adds embossing to the layer’s Stroke effect only.

Working with Layer Styles - understanding Bevel and Emboss in Adobe Photoshop CS3 Extended

Technique – this option lets you tweak the method that Photoshop uses when forming the beveling effect.

Smooth applies a small amount of blur to the effect to produce a softer result.

Chisel Hard hugs the contours of the layer boundary much more accurately, preserving features from the layer contents, making it great for type layers.

Chisel Soft is a compromise between Chisel Hard and Smooth. It usually doesn’t follow the contours as accurately as Chisel Hard, but it produces a gentler effect.

Working with Layer Styles - understanding Bevel and Emboss in Adobe Photoshop CS3 Extended

Depth – this option specifies the contrast of the shading used for the effect.

A high value results in a high level of contrast, producing a pronounced, or deep, bevel. A low value produces low-contrast shading, giving the impression of a shallow bevel.

Working with Layer Styles - understanding Bevel and Emboss in Adobe Photoshop CS3 Extended

Direction – this option controls whether the beveling effect makes the layer appear raised (Up) or indented (Down). It’s the equivalent of rotating the Angle setting by 180 degrees.

Working with Layer Styles - understanding Bevel and Emboss in Adobe Photoshop CS3 Extended

Size – use this option to control the size of the bevel in pixels. Click and drag the slider to change the size, or type a value in the box to the right of the slider.

Working with Layer Styles - understanding Bevel and Emboss in Adobe Photoshop CS3 Extended

Soften – this option is great for smoothing over artifacts caused by using either of the Chisel techniques. It adds a touch of blurring to the effect to help smooth things out.

Working with Layer Styles - understanding Bevel and Emboss in Adobe Photoshop CS3 Extended

Angle and Altitude – use the Angle option to adjust the direction of the light source used for the bevel effect. Click and drag the little crosshair in the circle, or type a value in the Angle box to the right. You can also adjust the altitude of the light source. Drag the crosshair toward the center to move the light source directly overhead and high up. Drag it toward the edge to move the source more toward the horizon. You can also type a value for the light source altitude, in degrees, in the Altitude box, 0 degrees – puts the light source on the horizon, while 90 degrees – puts it directly overhead.

Working with Layer Styles - understanding Bevel and Emboss in Adobe Photoshop CS3 Extended

Use Global Light – this option locks the effect’s Angle and Altitude settings to the Global Light settings. This means that this effect, and all other effects in your document that have Use Global Light selected, use the exact same lighting settings, thereby guaranteeing a consistent look to the effects. If you change the effect’s Angle and Altitude settings with Use Global Light selected, the Global Light angle and altitude also are changed.

Working with Layer Styles - understanding Bevel and Emboss in Adobe Photoshop CS3 Extended

Gloss Contour – this option controls how the highlights and shadows that make up the effect are mapped across the range of the effect. Choose a preset contour by clicking the downward-pointing arrow next to the box, or create your own contour by clicking the graph in the box. The Input values along the bottom of the graph represent the areas in shadow in the effect (on the left) to the areas in the light (on the right). The Output values up the side of the graph represent the amount of shadow (at the bottom) or highlight (at the top) to apply. So the default Linear gradient exactly maps shadowed areas to shadows, and lit areas to highlights. By varying the curve within the graph, you control how the “dark” and “light” areas of the bevel are shaded.

Working with Layer Styles - understanding Bevel and Emboss in Adobe Photoshop CS3 Extended

Working with Layer Styles - understanding Bevel and Emboss in Adobe Photoshop CS3 Extended

Anti-Aliased – if you use a fairly complex Gloss Contour graph, with lots of spikes, then you’ll probably notice that the glossy effects appear jagged in the image, particularly if your original layer is quite small or detailed. By selecting the Anti-Aliased option, you can smooth out these transitions, resulting in a less jagged effect.

Working with Layer Styles - understanding Bevel and Emboss in Adobe Photoshop CS3 Extended

Highlight Mode, Color box and Opacity – these settings control the blending mode, color, and opacity to use for the Highlight shading in the effect. To create the bevel, Photoshop applies a Highlight and a Shadow. These are usually applied to the “light” and “dark” areas of the effect, respectively, but you can change this mapping using the Gloss Contour option. Use the Highlight Mode menu to select a different blend mode. Click the Color box to pick a different color to use for the highlight. Click and drag the Opacity slider to control how opaque or transparent the highlight is.

Working with Layer Styles - understanding Bevel and Emboss in Adobe Photoshop CS3 Extended

Shadow Mode, Color box and Opacity – these controls apply to the Shadow shading used for the effect and behave much like their Highlight counterparts described previously.

Working with Layer Styles - understanding Bevel and Emboss in Adobe Photoshop CS3 Extended

By adding an Inner Bevel to text, we’ve managed to create a pretty realistic 3D effect. Examples of Bevel and Emboss in action (text color – white, Fill – %):

Outer Bevel

Working with Layer Styles - understanding Bevel and Emboss in Adobe Photoshop CS3 Extended

Inner Bevel

Working with Layer Styles - understanding Bevel and Emboss in Adobe Photoshop CS3 Extended

Emboss

Working with Layer Styles - understanding Bevel and Emboss in Adobe Photoshop CS3 Extended

Pillow Emboss

Working with Layer Styles - understanding Bevel and Emboss in Adobe Photoshop CS3 Extended

Stroke Emboss

Working with Layer Styles - understanding Bevel and Emboss in Adobe Photoshop CS3 Extended

The Bevel and Emboss effect has two subeffects: Contour and Texture.

Contour allows you to sculpt the shape of the bevel itself, while Texture lets you apply a pattern as a bumpy texture to the layer contents.

Select the check box to the left of Contour or Texture to enable the subeffect, or click the subeffect name itself to both enable the subeffect and edit its options.

The Contour options:

Contour – the contour you choose here affects the shape of the raised and lowered parts of the bevel effect around the edge of the layer contents. Think of the bevel as a 3D shape viewed from above, with the contour being a cross-section of that shape as viewed from the side; if you could cut through the bevel at any point with a saw, you’d see your selected contour shape. The default contour, Linear, produces a standard, 45-degree sloping bevel—which is the same as not enabling the Contour subeffect at all—but you can get some great effects with the other presets.

Working with Layer Styles - understanding Bevel and Emboss in Adobe Photoshop CS3 Extended

Choose a preset by clicking the downward-pointing arrow next to the box, or create your own contour by clicking the graph in the box.

Working with Layer Styles - understanding Bevel and Emboss in Adobe Photoshop CS3 Extended

Anti-Aliased – the Anti-Aliased option is particularly useful for this effect, because it’s very easy to produce quite jagged-looking bevels, especially with some of the spikier contours. Simply select this option to smooth out all those nasty jagged bits, and create a nice smooth beveling effect.

Working with Layer Styles - understanding Bevel and Emboss in Adobe Photoshop CS3 Extended

Range – use this option to adjust the position and size of the contour within the bevel’s cross-section. For value of 0, the contour is pushed to one edge of the bevel and only takes up a tiny proportion of the bevel, for value of 100 percent, the contour stretches to fill out twice the width of the bevel.

Working with Layer Styles - understanding Bevel and Emboss in Adobe Photoshop CS3 Extended

The Texture options:

Pattern – this option lets you choose a pattern to use for the texture.

Working with Layer Styles - understanding Bevel and Emboss in Adobe Photoshop CS3 Extended

Click the pattern to display the pop-up Pattern picker, then click the pattern you want to use. You can also click the triangle in the top right of the Pattern picker to bring up the palette menu— this lets you create and delete patterns, change the appearance of patterns in the palette, load and save patterns and pick from a range of pattern presets.

Working with Layer Styles - understanding Bevel and Emboss in Adobe Photoshop CS3 Extended

Snap To Origin – if you have moved the texture from its original position by clicking and dragging it in the document window, you can move the texture back to its default position by clicking this button.

Working with Layer Styles - understanding Bevel and Emboss in Adobe Photoshop CS3 Extended

Scale – by clicking and dragging this slider you can control the size of the texture as it appears in the effect. This is useful because the resolution of the pattern probably won’t match the resolution of your document.

Working with Layer Styles - understanding Bevel and Emboss in Adobe Photoshop CS3 Extended

Depth – this option lets you control how much the texture is “raised” or “lowered.” Positive values raise the texture, so that dark pixels in the pattern correspond to high points in the texture and light pixels correspond to dark points; negative values reverse this mapping, so that dark maps to low points and light maps to high points.

Working with Layer Styles - understanding Bevel and Emboss in Adobe Photoshop CS3 Extended

Invert – this option simply inverts the high and low points of the texture, so that dark pixels of the pattern map to low points in the texture and light pixels map to high points.

Working with Layer Styles - understanding Bevel and Emboss in Adobe Photoshop CS3 Extended

Link with Layer – selecting this option causes the texture to move with the layer contents when using the Move tool, which is usually what you want to happen. Disable this option, and the texture remains fixed relative to the document window.

Working with Layer Styles - understanding Bevel and Emboss in Adobe Photoshop CS3 Extended

Examples of Contour and Texture in action.

In the first example the Rounded Steps contour is applied to the text using the Contour subeffect, while the second example uses the Texture subeffect to apply the Bubbles pattern as a texture to the text.

Working with Layer Styles - understanding Bevel and Emboss in Adobe Photoshop CS3 Extended

Working with Layer Styles - understanding Bevel and Emboss in Adobe Photoshop CS3 Extended

TIPS

1. You can apply Bevel and Emboss effects to text layers as well as shape layers. In fact, the effect is probably most successful with text, especially the emboss options.
2. The shape of the Bevel, as defined by the chosen Contour, is most obvious when using the Chisel Hard technique.
3. When you’re applying a Texture to a Bevel and Emboss, you can select the Link with Layer checkbox. This allows you to move the Texture and layer in complete unison.

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