Elements Layers

Elements Layers Are Our Friends!

How to cause confusion and uncertainty in the mind of a new Photoshop Elements user - tell that poor soul to add a new elements layer!

Once you understand layers, however,  your digital imaging projects will go to a whole new level.

I understand the confusion because I was a newbie once and layers were a complete and utter mystery to me.

What Are Layers?

Think of layers as sheets of acetate stacked one on top of the other above your image.  Making adjustments on the layer above your original image means the original is not being modified but its appearance is changing.

You 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?

How Do Layers Help?

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 about them!

  1. Image Protection

    When you are working on Elements layers you are not working on the original image and that is generally a good thing.  

    Say, for instance, you are doing some adjustments on a valuable image and being a good digital imager you are saving regularly.  The time 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!

  2. Use Multiple Layers For Saving Time

    There 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.

  3. Decrease The Impact Of an Adjustment

    The opacity of each layer can be lowered making it easy to decrease the effect of an adjustment.

  4. See The Results Of An Adjustment

    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!

  5. Scrapbooking

    Scrapbookers who use Photoshop Elements for their projects really need to understand Layers.  Creating a scrapbook page on a single layer with all of the different bits and pieces that are part of the page is next to impossible.

    Layers are poweful, versatile and not terribly difficult to learn and understand.

The Layer Palette

This is where you control everything to do with Elements layers.  Its just a tiny little thing, really but it is so useful.

layers palette
  1. Create New Layer

  2. Create New Adjustment Layer

  3. Trash

  4. Layer Lock
  5. Blending Mode

  6. Layer Opacity

  7. Background Layer (original image)

  8. Copy Of Background

  9. Basic Layer

Now for an explanation of the palette ...

Palette Bottom

layers palette top

Number 1 is the create New Layer button.

Number 2 is the drop-down New Adjustment Layer.  These will be covered in greater depth later.

Number 3 is the Trash where layers go to disappear forever.

Number 4 are the different layer locks.

Number 5 is the Blend Mode drop-down manu.  They will be covered in greater depth later.

Number 6 is the Opacity of the layer.  It defaults at 100% and  the opacity can be lowered to lessen the effect of an adjustment.

Palette Top

elements layers palette body

Number 7 is the Backgound layer which is the original image loaded into Elements.  It is locked unless it is double clicked and given a new name.

Number 8 is a Copy of the Background. It is a good idea to make a copy so the original image is untouched.

Number 9 is a Basic Layer.  

Along the left side are the Layer Visibility icons.  When the eyeball is open then the modifications made on the layer is visible in the overal image.  When it is X'd out then modifications are not visible.  They are turned off and on by left clicking on the eyeball.


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 ...

Elements Layers Are Our Friends!

The next section will look at a few applications of simple layers ...

Simple Elements Layers Examples

layer girl thumb
Basic layer manipulation is the starting point to understanding how to use this powerful feature of Photoshop Elements.

Clicking on the thumbnail will take you to a thorough discussion of basic layers.

Page Links

How Do Layers Help?

The Layers Palette

Link To An Example

Elements Layers

Layers are useful because they let you add components to an image and work on them one at a time, without permanently changing your original image. 

layer thumb

For each layer, you can adjust color and brightness, apply special effects, reposition layer content, specify opacity and blending values, and so on. You can also rearrange the stacking order, link layers to work on them simultaneously, and create web animations with layers.

(from Photoshop Elements Help)

Layer Images

Layer palette
Layer Palette

layer adjustment
Adjustment Layers

layers menu
Layers Menu


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