I want to style a layer with layer styles in Photoshop.

The problem is that I want to add multiple inner drop shadows.
I saw that you can do Right Click > Rasterise Layer Style, but then I can't change it anymore. Best would be if I could link a separate layer with it and apply the style to this one.

Can anyone help me out here?


2 Answers 2


Method 1 — Groups

Photoshop CS6 can have layer styles applied to groups. Groups can be nested. This is probably the best way to do it, because it's neat and everything scales nicely when you scale the document (for Retina etc).

Group Layer Styles

Method 2 — Smart Objects

Once you've applied some layer styles to a shape, you can convert it to a Smart Object and then apply more layer styles. You can still edit the layer styles inside the Smart Object by double clicking it.

Not ideal, because Smart Objects generated in Photoshop bitmap scale, so this technique isn't good if you intend to make Retina versions of images. It's also quite difficult to edit, because you have to open the Smart Object to make changes.

Works in Photoshop CS5 though.

Smart Objects

Method 3 — Shape Layers & Clipping Mask

You can also use shape layers and a clipping mask to do pretty much anything layer styles can do. Need a blurry inner shadow? Use Mask Feathering to blur your shape layers. Easy!

The only drawback is if you need to clip the result to another vector layer.

Shape Layers & Clipping Mask

Method 4 etc

There's other ways to do this that don't require rasterising... let me know if the methods above don't suit.

  • The first method seems like the best one, although it may be a little messy, thanks for you efforts!
    – IluTov
    Jan 10, 2013 at 9:10
  • No probs. Unfortunately all the methods will require multiple layers or groups. Jan 10, 2013 at 9:14

To do this, I would duplicate the layer, bring it to the top, and set its Fill to 0%:

enter image description here

This will set the Fill to be transparent but the layer effects will remain. Then you can change the settings of the top layer effect so that you can have two Inner Shadows. Here's an example with the shadows set to red and blue to show the result:

Example of two inner shadows

  • Isn't there a way to link it to the original layer? I remember seeing this solved differently. It's a similar problem, if I change the path I have to recreate all the layers...
    – IluTov
    Jan 9, 2013 at 18:34
  • 1
    If you link the layers together, any transformations applied to one will be applied to the other (multi-select both layers, Right Click -> Link Layers). I do not know of any way to link them so that if you change the shape of one then the change would be applied to the other. It could be done in Illustrator using symbols, though. See Scott's answer to my question here
    – JohnB
    Jan 9, 2013 at 19:24
  • You could convert the original layer to a smart object before duplicating. Then you only have to change the content of one smart object and all others will change with it.
    – KMSTR
    Jan 10, 2013 at 8:52

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