Photoshop Elements Color Overlay

Photoshop Elements Color Overlay
If you are switching from Photoshop to Photoshop Elements, you might have noticed that PSE has fewer layer styles than PS. One of my favorite PS layer styles is the Color Overlay, which quickly changes the color of the object or text on a layer. But, it's missing in PSE.

For a previous Photoshop project, I created a social graphic template for an Instagram Quick Tip post. The template contained a background image on the bottom layer, a white square overlay object on the next layer, and three layers of text above that (see screenshot).

Each text layer had a medium gray Color Overlay style applied. I did this for my template because it is easy to change the text color by just changing the color of the layer style. What happened to the Color Overlay layer style when I opened this image in PSE?

Compare Layer Styles

As you can see (see screenshot), PSE is missing the Emboss, Inner Shadow, Satin, Color Overlay, Gradient Overlay and Pattern Overlay styles. But it has its own version of the Drop Shadow, Inner and Outer Glow, Bevel and Stroke styles. I first noticed this "limitation" when I imported my template into PSE.

Also you can see (see screenshot), it appears at first glance that all the image information was maintained in the PS image when opened in PSE. But it's misleading. The fx icon on the text layers indicate that a layer style is applied. But when you try to change the color of the text by changing the color of the Color Overlay style, you can't. When you click on the fx icon and the PSE Layer Styles dialog opens, there isn't a Color Overlay style.

So what do we do? Of course, we could just select the text and change the color in the Tool Options bar. But, I wanted to maintain the flexibility of my template.

There is a work around for PSE, which uses a clipping mask to change the color. With this mask, we can control the color of the object or text on the layer below.

Remove Layer Style

Although there isn't really a Color Overlay style applied to the text, the fx icon is still there and could be misleading. Our first step is to remove the fx icons from the text layers.

1. Right-click on a text layer and choose Clear Layer Style from the popup menu (see screenshot).

2. Repeat for each text layer.

Now, let's add the Layer Mask.

Add A Layer Mask

1. Select a layer containing the text or object.

2. From the top menu (see screenshot), click Layer - New Fill Layer - Solid Color.

As you can see, we could also choose a gradient or pattern fill layer.

3. In the popup dialog (see screenshot), check Use Previous Layer to Create Clipping Mask and click OK.

You will see a new layer above the text layer and the Color Picker has opened.

4. In the Color Picker (see screenshot), set the new color and click OK.

5. Repeat for each text layer (see screenshot).

Now, the text layers in the template have a new color and we can change the color again for each post.

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