Mastering Simple Layers
With Photoshop Elements
Lets work through some simple layers with Photoshop Elements.
is a picture of my Miniature Bull Terrier, Tabitha, enjoying a cooling
seat in her little pool on a hot summer evening. Tabitha, her
sister and her mom had been playing vigorously and this was break time
for Tabby as she watches the other two continue with their game.
I really like this image because it really captures Tabitha but it has
a few flaws that can be fixed with some simple layers.
1. There are too many leaves and broken sticks in
the grass just behind Tabs.
2. The area at the top of the image is under a
pine tree and looks somewhat messy
3. The grass in front of tabs is missing or sparse.
There is some simple layer work required here ...!
Fixing The Sticks And Leaves
And Mangled Dog Toys
The first thing to be addressed are the dead leaves and pieces of
broken stick in the grass and that nasty dog toy in the upper left part
of the picture just behind Tabitha. They will be
with the Clone Tool on a simple layer.
Here are the steps ...
- Make a copy of the Background by dragging the
Background onto the New
Layer icon or Layer
> Duplicate Layer ... or Ctrl-J/Cmd-J - too
- Activate (click on) the Background Copy and create a
New Layer directly above - either click on the New
Layer icon or Layer
> New Layer.
Double click on the name of the new layer (Layer 1) and change the name
to something really imaginative - like - oh say - Clone.
- Select the Clone
Tool from the toolbox and then confirm that All Layers is
a good Source point and start cloning out the unnecessary junk using
your exceptional cloning skills. Change the Source every so
and check your progress by turning the Clone Layer visibility off and
- When completely satisfied with your cloning skill it
time to move on - but not before merging the clone layer with the
Background Copy. This is done by clicking Layer > Merge Down.
this does is merge the clone layer with the Background copy so now we
have a new Background copy without the untidy leaves and sticks and
gnawed up dog toys. Here it is ...
Just doing the cloning made quite a difference as the image somehow
seems more alive, don't you think?
The Merge Down is necessary for the next step which is fixing up the
Fixing The Grass
the Merge Down did was put the cloned layer into the Background Copy
and now the ugly little pieces of stick and leaves and chewed up dog
toys are gone (they are still part of the original image - Background -
That is a good thing because the Background Copy will
be used to create "patches" to fill in the areas where there is no
grass wihtout adding those other distracting things.
This can be
done with the Clone Tool as well but not easily so lets use something
that is easy - making patches and promoting them to their very own
There is a nice clear patch of grass near the top left
so a rectangular selection was created on the Background Copy layer.
To eliminate sharp edges a rather large feathering was
50 in this case.
Copy the selection (Ctrl-C/Cmd-C),
create a new simple layer by clicking the New Layer icon and then paste
The nice little patch of grass is now on its own layer but it is in the
wrong position. To move the patch select the Move Tool and
drag the patch down to a position where it covers an area with missing
or ugly grass.
- Make a selection on the Background Copy.
- Apply some Feathering to the selection.
- Copy the selection.
- Create a new layer above the Background Copy
and give it a name.
- Paste the selection into the new layer.
- Move it to a new position with the Move Tool.
This is simple, isn't it?
Do It Over And Over and ...
At this point the layers could be Merged Down again and then the same
procedure could be started all over.
Rather than do that I just left all of the simple layers intact so it
easy to understand..
first time you work through something like this may be a bit of a
challenge but it will soon become very easy and straightforward.
sure is a lot easier than trying to Clone out all of the dead grass
patches with nice grass without getting a nasty pattern all over the
Checking For Boo
is a good idea to turn off all of the layers at the end and then turn
them on one at a time. When I did this I discovered that the Feather
setting picked up the right side of the pool on one of the layers and
when that patch was moved the faint image of the pool came with it.
Here it is ...
This is easy to fix! Grab the eraser, make sure you are on
the correct layer and eliminate the offending ghost image.
all of the grass was replaced I checked the before and after image and
discoverd that the grass at the top of the image was different
from the rest of the grass. This was fixed by lowering the
opacity of that particular layer until it matched the rest of the grass.
That's pretty much it for some simple, and very useful layers.
The different techniques used on the layers were:
- And Text (the Feather problem)
Here is a shot of the final image and the ending layers palette is in
the right column.
Simple Layers really are our