Easy-to-follow video tutorials help you learn software, creative, and business skills.Become a member

Understanding layers

From: Getting Started with Photoshop Elements 10

Video: Understanding layers

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.

Understanding layers

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.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for Getting Started with Photoshop Elements 10
Getting Started with Photoshop Elements 10

39 video lessons · 705 viewers

Chad Chelius
Author

 

Start learning today

Get unlimited access to all courses for just $25/month.

Become a member
Sometimes @lynda teaches me how to use a program and sometimes Lynda.com changes my life forever. @JosefShutter
@lynda lynda.com is an absolute life saver when it comes to learning todays software. Definitely recommend it! #higherlearning @Michael_Caraway
@lynda The best thing online! Your database of courses is great! To the mark and very helpful. Thanks! @ru22more
Got to create something yesterday I never thought I could do. #thanks @lynda @Ngventurella
I really do love @lynda as a learning platform. Never stop learning and developing, it’s probably our greatest gift as a species! @soundslikedavid
@lynda just subscribed to lynda.com all I can say its brilliant join now trust me @ButchSamurai
@lynda is an awesome resource. The membership is priceless if you take advantage of it. @diabetic_techie
One of the best decision I made this year. Buy a 1yr subscription to @lynda @cybercaptive
guys lynda.com (@lynda) is the best. So far I’ve learned Java, principles of OO programming, and now learning about MS project @lucasmitchell
Signed back up to @lynda dot com. I’ve missed it!! Proper geeking out right now! #timetolearn #geek @JayGodbold
Share a link to this course

What are exercise files?

Exercise files are the same files the author uses in the course. Save time by downloading the author's files instead of setting up your own files, and learn by following along with the instructor.

Can I take this course without the exercise files?

Yes! If you decide you would like the exercise files later, you can upgrade to a premium account any time.

Become a member Download sample files See plans and pricing

Please wait... please wait ...
Upgrade to get access to exercise files.

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

Learn by watching, listening, and doing, Exercise files are the same files the author uses in the course, so you can download them and follow along Premium memberships include access to all exercise files in the library.


Exercise files

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

For additional information on downloading and using exercise files, watch our instructional video or read the instructions in the FAQ.

This course includes free exercise files, so you can practice while you watch the course. To access all the exercise files in our library, become a Premium Member.

Join now "Already a member? Log in

Are you sure you want to mark all the videos in this course as unwatched?

This will not affect your course history, your reports, or your certificates of completion for this course.


Mark all as unwatched Cancel

Congratulations

You have completed Getting Started with Photoshop Elements 10.

Return to your organization's learning portal to continue training, or close this page.


OK
Become a member to add this course to a playlist

Join today and get unlimited access to the entire library of video courses—and create as many playlists as you like.

Get started

Already a member?

Become a member to like this course.

Join today and get unlimited access to the entire library of video courses.

Get started

Already a member?

Exercise files

Learn by watching, listening, and doing! Exercise files are the same files the author uses in the course, so you can download them and follow along. Exercise files are available with all Premium memberships. Learn more

Get started

Already a Premium member?

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

Ask a question

Thanks for contacting us.
You’ll hear from our Customer Service team within 24 hours.

Please enter the text shown below:

The classic layout automatically defaults to the latest Flash Player.

To choose a different player, hold the cursor over your name at the top right of any lynda.com page and choose Site preferencesfrom the dropdown menu.

Continue to classic layout Stay on new layout
Exercise files

Access exercise files from a button right under the course name.

Mark videos as unwatched

Remove icons showing you already watched videos if you want to start over.

Control your viewing experience

Make the video wide, narrow, full-screen, or pop the player out of the page into its own window.

Interactive transcripts

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.

Are you sure you want to delete this note?

No

Your file was successfully uploaded.

Thanks for signing up.

We’ll send you a confirmation email shortly.


Sign up and receive emails about lynda.com and our online training library:

Here’s our privacy policy with more details about how we handle your information.

Keep up with news, tips, and latest courses with emails from lynda.com.

Sign up and receive emails about lynda.com and our online training library:

Here’s our privacy policy with more details about how we handle your information.

   
submit Lightbox submit clicked
Terms and conditions of use

We've updated our terms and conditions (now called terms of service).Go
Review and accept our updated terms of service.