Easy-to-follow video tutorials help you learn software, creative, and business skills.Become a member
Layers are the foundation of any creation in the Full Edit mode of Photoshop Elements 10. Understanding layers will open up a world of possibilities to you, and allow you to explore more of the features found inside of the program. Let me show you how layers work. I'm beginning of this video in the Elements 10 Organizer. And I'm going to click on an image found right at the top of my media browser called _mg_1354.jpg. And with this photo selected, I'm going to come over here to the right of the Fix tab and I'm go to choose Full Photo Edit.
So, after choosing that option, it's going to open my photo inside of the Full Edit mode. You can notice that the Full option is highlighted, and you'll notice the toolbox over here in the upper-left of your interface, has quite a few additional tools than you might have seen in the other modes. Now, there are many, many tools that we can use here, but before we dive into them, I really want you to understand how layers work. Now, I'm going to Double-click on this Effects panel to collapse that panel. So that we can really get a better view of the Layers panel, and any photo that you open inside of the elements editor, is always going to have one layer and it's going to be called Background.
Now that Background layer by default has a lock icon next to it, and this simply means that it is a locked layer. Not that we can't modify it. But it cannot contain what's called transparency, so none of the pixels in this layer can become transparent. Now that may or may not be an issue later on down the road, but for now we're just going to leave it as a regular Background layer. Everything we're going to do to this photo, is going to be on an additional layer aside from the Background layer. And this allows me to work what we call, non-destructively.
And essentially what that means is that anything I do is being done to those additional layers and this background layer is essentially going to be untouched. So, let's see how this works. The first thing I'm going to do, is come down here to the lower left corner of the Layers panel, and I'm going to click on the Create a New Layer button. When I do, you're going to notice that the new layer has been added above the Background layer. That's another thing to remember is that, in the stacking order of these layers, the background layers always has to be at the bottom.
Now, think of layers as a piece of Mylar or a piece of clear acetate that you might have seen in textbooks when you were a child. And it's a clear piece of film, but there's some information on that layer, and when you lay it over a page or a photo, for example, it adds to the overall appearance of that background photo. And that's really how layers work inside of Elements Editor. So, you can see I have a new layer up here at the top and it's highlighted. I'm going to rename this layer by Double clicking on it and I'm just going to call this square. Now, in order to do anything to this layer, I need to have it highlighted. And once it's highlighted, anything I do to the photo is going to appear on that layer.
Let's use an example here. I'm going to grab my Brush tool, I'm going to click on that. I'm going to come down here, and this is my foreground and background colors, so I'm going to click on the foreground color, and that's going to allow me to pick a color. So I'm going to pick a red color here. By just clicking on this main area. And then I'll click OK. Now I also want to make my brush a little bigger, so up here in the size field I'm going to drag that to about 50. And you'll see now I have a larger brush.
Now let's make that, actually, let's go to 100 here. And now we get a better idea of what that brush looks like, relative to the picture. And what I'm going to do, is I'm just going to Click and Drag, to start painting on my photo. Now I should really clarify that, I'm really not painting on the photo. As you can see up here, it's being painted, or applied, to the square layer. So anything I do here is being done on a separate layer and is completely independent of that Background layer.
Now you'll notice next to each one of these layers is a little eye ball, and that's the visibility of the layer. So, if I click on that icon, it's going to hide that layer. And you'll notice that those brush strokes that I put on that layer have now disappeared. If I turn off the visibility of the Background layer, now I'm just left with a plain, transparent background. So, I'm going to turn both those layers back on, and what I'd like to do now, is I want to get rid of what I have here. So, I'm going to use my Selection tool, this is actually my Rectangular Marquee tool, and the job of this Marquee tool is to create a selection.
And there's a saying, in order to effect it, you have to select it. So using this tool, I'm just going to Click and Drag over the whole thing, and I'm going to press Delete on my keyboard. And you'll notice that I totally removed anything on that layer, like a clean slate, like wiping off the chalkboard. Now, I'm going to deselect that area so I'll go to the Select menu and choose Deselect. And now I'm going to create a new selection. Now, I want to make a perfect square in this example, so to do so I'm going to hold down the Shift key on my keyboard. I'm going to make sure I still have this Rectangular Marquee tool selected, and I'm just going to click and drag, and by holding down the Shift key, it keeps the width and height the same proportion.
So you want to let go of your mouse first, then you can let go of your Shift key, and now we have a selection. Now this selection can be moved wherever I want it go. And I'l just leave it right there, because what I'd like to do, is fill that square with white. So to do that, I'm going to come down here to my foreground and background colors. And I'm going to click on this button right here, to set my colors back to their default, black and white. I'm going to come up here to the Edit menu, and choose Fill Selection. I want to use my background color, which is currently white. So I'll click OK, and you'll notice that I now filled that selected that area with that white color.
I'm going to go to the Select menu and choose Deselect. And now if I use my Move tool, I can move this square. To a different area on this layer. Notice how, once again, it's totally independent from the Background layer. Now, what I can also do on this layer, is I can adjust the blending mode, which changes how this square interacts with the colors beneath it. So for example if I choose Dissolve, you're not going to really see much of a change in this example.
Let's go to Color Burn, not really much of a change, because these blending modes are really dependent upon which colors are being interacted with. So I'm going to go ahead and choose Color Dodge. Really not going to do anything. We're just going to take this back up to normal for this example. Because white really doesn't do anything with blending modes. What I am going to do is I'm going to reduce the opacity of this layer. Let's pull it down to about 50%. And what this means is that 50% of the color is now appearing on that layer.
And 50% of the photo underneath it is showing through. So I can click Off of that and now we can see what this square looks like. Now we can still move this around. Now, here's a really cool technique you can use. I'm going to hold down the Option key on Mac, or the Alt key on Windows. And I'm going to click on this square. And I'm going to drag it over here to the right. When I let go of my mouse, you'll notice that another layer has been created. We now have square and square copy. We can rename these later.
But what I'm going to do is I'm going to do this a couple of different times. I'm going to hold down Option on Mac, Alt on Windows. Click and Drag, and you can see how I can make multiple copies of this square. To create a nice, interesting pattern on the left-hand side here. And you'll notice that all of these layers have been created because I made copies of them. And this is a really great way to illustrate how layers behave. Now you'll notice as I'm moving my cursor over these, they highlight. And that's an option that's available up here when I have my Move tool selected, which is called Show Highlight On Rollover.
If I were to uncheck that, you'll notice that I'm not really seeing any of that. So I kind of like that behavior. I'm going to turn that back on so I see that. Now let's add yet one more layer. I'm going to click on the background layer to make it active, and now, another type of layer we can create, is what's called an Adjustment layer. So I'm going to click on this third button, to create a new Fill or Adjustment Layer, and now, these are the options that I have to choose from. So if I want to I can choose a pattern adjustment.
And this allows me to create a unique pattern on this layer. You can see that here is the layer. Here's the effectives being applied. And I'm going to click on this drop down menu, cuz these are the other effects that can be applied to this. So you can experiment with this. Just kind of play around here. I'm going to pick a nice pattern that I want to use here. That looks pretty interesting, but maybe we'll go with, let's go with this one right here.
And what's really cool about this, when you use a Adjustment layer like this, is that we have a scale slider. So we can scale this up or down, to make that texture or pattern bigger or smaller. Now, I'm going to click OK. And we can see that this is now covering up the background. That's okay in this example though, because what I'm going to do, is with this pattern fill selected, I'm going to come up here to my opacity. And I'm going to drag that down, and as I do you're going to start to see the photo showing through that pattern.
And you can create a really cool textured effect by utilizing this technique. And you can also experiment with your blending modes now because now when you choose these blending modes, you're going to get different behaviors depending on what this looks like. So you can see now how the white just kind of disappears and we're only seeing this pattern. And you can still experiment with the overall opacity to see how intense you want to make it. And you can really do some amazing stuff using these layers. If you want to see what it looks like without that effect, just turn off the visibility and there you are.
A nice trick for turning off multiple layers at a time, is to Click on one and Drag, and you can turn off all those layers with one fell swoop. Or, I can Click and Drag to turn them all back on. So, with a fundamental understanding of layers, you're well on your way to creating and editing your own photos. Hopefully, it will spark your own creativity, as well.
Get unlimited access to all courses for just $25/month.Become a member
180 Video lessons · 76132 Viewers
64 Video lessons · 94537 Viewers
86 Video lessons · 62035 Viewers
103 Video lessons · 31381 Viewers
Access exercise files from a button right under the course name.
Search within course videos and transcripts, and jump right to the results.
Remove icons showing you already watched videos if you want to start over.
Make the video wide, narrow, full-screen, or pop the player out of the page into its own window.
Click on text in the transcript to jump to that spot in the video. As the video plays, the relevant spot in the transcript will be highlighted.