Layers Are Our Friends!
Layers in Photoshop seem to cause confusion and uncertainty in the
of new users! They know they should use them -
they know where they are - but they have no idea what to do with them.
It's a case of not understanding some simple concepts about the
"L" word ...
Once you understand them your digital
projects will go to a whole new level.
I understand the confusion because I was a newbie once and they were
a complete and
utter mystery to me.
What The Heck Are
Think of layers as sheets of acetate stacked one on top of
the other above your image. Making adjustments on the layer
your original image means the original is not being modified but its
appearance is changing.
can have as many layers as you wish so don't be stingy with them.
If you are burning or dodging an image don't do it all on one
layer - add additional layers for different items and give each layer a
name so you can find it if you need it.
So what are the values of working on Layers?
What Good Are Layers, or
In actual fact learning how to use layers is a joyous journey and there
are some very good reasons why you should learn everything you can
"Why Go Through The Agony Of Learning Layers?"
When you are working on a layer you are not working on the original
image and that is generally a good thing.
for instance, you are doing some adjustments on a valuable image and
being a good digital imager you are saving regularly. The
comes when you realize you have gone too far and want to get back to
the starting point only to discover - to your horror - that you were
working on the original image and it is the only one you have of that
subject and now it is headed for the trash.
That will not happen if you were working on a layer!
Use Multiple Layers
For Time Saving
will come a time when you are retouching an image and
everything is perfect except for one little area. If you were
regularly adding new layers (and naming them) it is easy to locate the
offending area and eliminate that particular layer.
If, on the
other hand, you completed hours of work on a single layer and realized
something was amiss - well - out goes the layer and you get to start
all over again.
Decrease The Impact
Of an Adjustment
The opacity of each layer can be lowered making it easy to decrease the
effect of an adjustment.
Add Layer Effects
There are really cool ways that one layer can react with other layers.
Effects like drop shadows and emboss among others.
See The Results Of
Layers can be turned off and back on to see the results of an
adjustment you have made. This is very useful.
If you don't like what you see then modify the adjustment or throw out
the layer and start again!
The Layer Palette
This is where you control everything to do with layers. Its
just a tiny little thing, really but it is so useful.
- Blending Options
- Create Layer Mask
- Create a Layer Set
- Create New Adjustment Layer
- New Layer
- Blending Mode
- Layer Opacity
- Layer Options
- Background (original image)
- Copy of Background
- Burning Layer
- Clone Layer
- Two Adjustment Layers
Now for an explanation of the palette ...
is a drop down menu to change the layer style of the active layer.
When one is selected the Layer Style Palette comes up with a
lot of different options and the one you selected is the active Style.
is used to add a Layer Mask - there will be more on this later.
creates a new layer set and other layers can be dragged into the
folder. This is useful if you have lots of layers and would
like to keep the ones who belong together in the same place.
provides a list of the Adjustment Layers available - more on this later.
will create a new layer
is the trash where rogue and undesirable layers live - but not for
is the blend mode - this is how layers react with one another.
It is a topic for its own tutorial.
is the opacity of the layer. It is normally at 100% and it
can be decreased to lessen an effect on the layer.
presents a bunch of different layer options. It is useful but
I rarely use it.
10 is the Background Layer - the original image.
You cannot do anything to this layer - unless you change its
name then it acts like any other layer.
11 is a copy of the background. It is created by
dragging the background onto the New Layer icon (Number 5 above).
12 is a layer with a blend mode applied to some burning.
13 is a normal layer that was used to do some cloning.
It was created by clicking on the new layer icon (Number 5
14 are two Adjustment Layers - one Curves and
one Channel Mixer. These two adjustment layers were
created by clicking on the New Adjustment Layer icon (Number 4 above).
The white box in the middle of the Adjustment Layers are the
Layer Masks - every Adjustment Layer comes with its own mask.
15 sets the visibility of each layer. When the
little eyeball is visible then the information on that layer is visible
and when it is not visible then the information on the layer is not
visible. This means you can turn a layers visibility off and on by
clicking the eyeball to see the result of any adjustment made on that
Well thats OK if you are because learning often has
to move through confusion because if you don't know anything about a
subject then you can't be confused!
And always remember ...
Layers Are Our Friends!
The next section will look at a few applications of simple layers ...
Simple Layer Examples
Basic layer manipulation is the
starting point to
understanding how to use this powerful feature of Photoshop.
Clicking on the thumbnail will take you to a thorough discussion of
From The Help Files
Layers allow you to work on one element of an image without disturbing
the others. Think of layers as sheets of acetate stacked one on top of
the other. Where there is no image on a layer, you can see through to
the layers below.
You can change the composition of an image by
changing the order and attributes of layers. In addition, special
features such as adjustment layers, fill layers, and layer styles let
you create sophisticated effects