I am seeking how to apply an Overlay Gradient style on a layer containing multiple shapes, in a way that each shape has his own gradient (not sharing the layer style to the merged shapes).

For now, I'm getting a global gradient style applied for this layer where each shape are part of the whole gradient style.

Hope it's understandable.

Thank you.

  • you should apply the gradient after you select all objects of interest.
    – Ilan
    Apr 17, 2014 at 12:22

3 Answers 3


Layer Styles, by definition, style entire layers.

It is simply not possible to apply a different Layer Style to different areas of the same layer.

You'll need to "cut up" and separate your single layer into multiple layers and apply a layer style to each layer as needed. The easiest way to divide up shapes on a single layer is to select the shapes, then simply use Layer > New > Layer Via Cut. This will move your selection to a new layer on its own.


(in Photoshop) The easiest way would be to adjust this in the 'effects' of the layers palette. To do so, just go to the bottom of the layers palette, click on the 'fx' button and select 'gradient overlay', adjust the gradient as needed. Note: this is providing you have each piece on it's own layer so the effect can be applied individually.

(in Illustrator) You will have to make sure they are not pieces to a compound shape (this would apply one big gradient to the entire group).

Right-click on them and select 'isolate selected group'. While in isolation mode, open the layers palette, highlight all of the layer shapes below 'Compound Shape' and drag them upward out of the 'Compound Shape' layer so they are on their own, this will apply the gradient to each individual piece, then exit isolation mode.


  • Thanks for your response. Looks like it can't be possible on Photoshop to do it. Although, it would have been good to unmerged the shapes from a layer and apply the style for each unmerged shape.
    – barti
    Apr 20, 2014 at 8:48

Ok, I have tried things...but none of them do what you are asking. Only way i can think of that is quick is to do two things:

First, duplicate all shapes and then merge the duplicated shapes so now you have two sets of shapes one set with each shape separated and another set which is combination of those shapes. Now set fill to 0% of the new merged shape.

Second apply layer/Gradient style to one layer as you want then select all other layers and right click select Paste layer style. Which will apply to all.

This way you get two effects one global which you can configure and one local...Though this method does cut down customizablity by adding more work. It's another thing that photoshop is missing among long list of things that it should have.

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