Photoshop Gradient Overlay requires a shape layer, not a regular layer?


Today I was following a tutorial using PS CS6 on the internet and it asked that a layer be added and Layer Style > Gradient Overlay be used, which would later become a background.

I'm not a big user of the fx button in the layer panel, I admit. But, I didn't think it was so utterly confusing.

I simply created a new layer (transparent) and accessed the Gradient Overlay in Layer Styles and expected to see the new layer filled with the gradient I had configured and then I'd move on to the next step. There was no effect at all and no indication from Photoshop CS6 that I had just done something that would have no effect.

To my great surprise I discovered that even after making a (marquee) selection, there was no gradient overlay appearing.

Not until I used the shape tool (or text tool) would my gradient appear within it. Of course, I thought the so-called 'layer' style would apply on a layer level basis and not require that a particular object be used for filling.

Is my software not working correctly or does anyone else find this observed behavior counter-intuitive in the slightest?

Why does it only have effect on text or shape layers?

10/14/2013 8:26:00 PM

Accepted Answer

The word "Overlay" by definition means to cover.

If your layer is transparent, there are no pixels for the Overlay to cover.

Fill the layer with something, anything, and the Gradient Overlay will be visible. If you do not want the actual layer contents to be visible, then reduce the Fill Opacity to 0%.

In short, you must have something on the layer for any of the layer styles to actually work, overlay or otherwise.

10/14/2013 8:43:00 PM