Been trying to search for an answer online for quite a while now but can't seem to find anything new. I'm familiar with layer styles and I've been merging them down to rasterize a layer, but for some reason none of this logic seems to be of any help with this particular case; Although a familiar concept, I must admit that I have never used layer styles to this degree, so the amount of variables is what gets me lost.
Photoshop CS4 Extended, Mac OS. Image dimensions 4000x4500px at 300dpi.
I was practicing with layer styles, mostly creating layers with flat single-colored areas of shape and experimenting with the settings. I ended up creating several layer copies with the same blobs, setting layer Fill to 0%, then applying different styles to them to create whatever is visible. Some style settings cause the blob to expand over the original shape's dimensions which I don't want, which calls out for a layer mask. But if you apply a mask directly to the layer, the style itself is affected by the mask boundaries, not just what you see, as would happen in case of normal pixels. As a workaround, most styled layers had to be placed into folders, and the mask stencil applied on the folder instead of layers. Actual layer fill set to 0% is because I was working with glassy objects and I wanted to focus fully on what the styles alone do.
All looks nice when the .PSD is open in Photoshop, but from there on, nothing seems to work. The image always ends up looking completely different when trying to export it into flat form. Especially light effects like bevel just seem to get baked to the image as full-on burnt white, even though the light that I'm seeing in Photoshop is subtle, three-dimensional, graded and translucent. Layer>Rasterize is greyed out. These are all of the things that result into an incorrect rendition:
- Max quality .jpg
- Finder thumbnail of the very same .psd file that looks good when open in Photoshop
- Merge visible
- Merge layers
- Flatten image
- Convert to smart object
- Merge down, when the layer below the selected styled layer is empty and unstyled
- Happens in both cases, when the background is transparent, and when it's filled with 100% opaque pixels.
I had to take screen captures to get the image to compare. Left: Every time a render, this happens. This example is without a background. Right: In Photoshop, the item floating half over opaque pixels and half transparency.