Does anyone know to make a control look sunken into the back ground? Is it some sort of photoshop effect?

I.e., in first button in this interface,

  • If you haven't gotten satisfying answer, chances are you are not going to get one, unless you clarify what the 3 answerers didn't get right.
    – Joonas
    Nov 30, 2011 at 12:55

3 Answers 3


That's quite a clever combination of effects.

There's a vertical gradient to give the rounded appearance to the button.

The arrows are done using an Inner Glow set to black, with its blend mode set to multiply.

The "sunken" look of the button itself is created using a combination of Inner Shadow (to give a direction to the light source) and Inner Glow black/multiply, as with the arrows, with Spread set close to 100% to give that sharp edge.

Soft and sharp edges on shadows convey information about the size of the light source and the distance of the object from the "shadow catcher." The density of the shadow also affects the illusion of distance; objects close to a surface cast darker, sharper shadows, so you can adjust the apparent height and depth of the button recess by playing with those parameters.

Using Inner Glow might seem counter-intuitive, since it's a "Glow," but only important technical difference between the glow and shadow effects is that the glows are directionless, where the shadow effects are directional and require you to define an angle and height for the light source.


What you're looking at is basically Letterpress effect, without the letters. There are literally gazillions of tutorials for letterpress all over the internet. You can use them, just replace the text with your gradient shape. Here's a decent video one...


(Typically the effect is a combo of Inner Shadow and Outer Shadow layer effects, with the first set to black and Multiply, and the second set to white and Screen or Normal)

  • So sad it became a 404
    – Prix
    Dec 13, 2015 at 11:57

Layer Style → Bevel and Emboss for the edge, and a linear gradient for the button itself.

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