What is a Stroke?
In our world, it's not a heart attack (thank
goodness), a stroke is the Photoshop industry term for an "outline"
or "border". You can add a
stroke to a layer from the blending option/layer effects panel by right-clicking
on the layer in the palette or by clicking on the lower left icon in the layer's
palette and choosing stroke.
A Stroke will put an outline around your text or other layer. You can
choose and change the color and like other layer effects, the distance, size and
opacity of the effect. You can even change the blending mode (but in most
cases that won't make a difference). Strokes are used all the time in
flyer's and advertisements. They work great to help isolate text from a
In most cases you'll use a size of 3 or less but when you start enlarging or
working at a higher resolution (700) you may have to enlarge the size of the
stroke when previewing it at print size. Stroke works well only with clear
cut lines or edges (ie. text or shapes). You can stroke a layer of a
person as long as it is a good selection but sometimes outer glow will work
better so you don't see the harshness of an imperfect selection which will show
through with a stroke. Here is an example where you can see the stroke
Stroke also works best on chunky text vs. cursive text. As with all
layers you can lower the opacity to dim the entire layer and its effects or you
can lower the fill to only retain the layer effects you have applied (in this
case, the stroke). Here you can see the nice white 'stroke' of 1 pixel as
a layer style/effect on the text and a red stroke on the bottom image.
There is another way to create a stroke and that is by duplicating a (text)
layer, rasterizing it and expanding it (by 1-4 pixels) and filling it with a
color while leaving the original layer (usually white) in front. You can
then link them or merge them. I show how this is done in the Discover
Total Package training program. But it's simply easier to use the layer
effect: stroke from right clicking on the layer. Many times there are
several different ways to do things in Photoshop.
This effect is used throughout many genres of design and should be aware of
it and how to use it. Stroke it to the west, baby.
- Article by Orion
Williams copyright 2004