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Understanding layers

From: Photoshop Elements 8 for Mac Essential Training

Video: Understanding layers

Layers are arguably the most important feature in the Full Edit Workspace, because layers give you the freedom to treat individual pieces of artwork separately. You might think of layers like panes of glass stacked one on top of the other, each pane of glass with some separate artwork on it. Where a layer has no artwork, it's transparent and so you can see down through it to the layer below, or in this analogy to the pane of glass below. Let's see how that works on this file. I am going to go to the Layers panel, here in the column on the right, which is the place from which you'll manage your layers.

Understanding layers

Layers are arguably the most important feature in the Full Edit Workspace, because layers give you the freedom to treat individual pieces of artwork separately. You might think of layers like panes of glass stacked one on top of the other, each pane of glass with some separate artwork on it. Where a layer has no artwork, it's transparent and so you can see down through it to the layer below, or in this analogy to the pane of glass below. Let's see how that works on this file. I am going to go to the Layers panel, here in the column on the right, which is the place from which you'll manage your layers.

I am going to click the tab on the Layers panel and drag it out so that you can see it better. And then, I'll make the Layers panel longer by clicking in its bottom-right corner and dragging down. In the Layers panel you can see that this particular image is a composite photograph that has three separate layers each with different pieces of artwork. Each of the bars in the layers panel represents a different layer. I can make layers temporarily invisible by turning off the Eye icons to the left of the layers. To see what's on the background layer only, I am going to hold down the Option key and click on the Eye icon to the left of the background layer.

And now in the document window, I see only the photograph that fills the entire background layer. Now to see what's on the Palm Tree layer, I am going to hold down the Option key, and click in the Visibility field to the left of the Palm Tree layer. Here on this layer is just this photograph of a palm tree. I've selected everything else, and deleted it from that layer. The gray and white checkerboard pattern here represents transparency or the area of the Palm Tree layer through which you can see down to the image on the background layer below. I am going to turn on just the Sign layer now, so you can see what's on it, by holding the Option key, and clicking in the visibility field to the left of the Sign layer.

This layer contains these rocks and this sign and this flag. Everything else has been selected and deleted leaving transparent pixels through which you can see down to the content on the layers below, the Palm Tree and the Background. Now I'll turn all the layers back on by holding the Option key, and clicking on the Eye icon to the left of the Sign layer again. So what's the reason to use multiple layers in a composition? It's so that you can work on the content of one layer without disturbing the content of the rest of the image.

To work on the content of a layer, you first have to select that layer in the Layers panel. I would like to move the Content of the Palm Tree layer. So I'm going to click in a blank area of the Palm Tree layer in the Layers panel to select that layer, and you can see that it turns light blue like this. To move the content of the Palm Tree layer without disturbing the content of the other layers in the file, all I have to do is have the Palm Tree layer selected and then I'll get the Move tool from the toolbox, which adds a bounding box around the content of the Palm Tree layer.

I'll click inside that bounding box, and I'll drag to the right, and as you can see the palm tree moves, but nothing on the Sign layer or on the Background layer is disturbed. And moving the content of a layer isn't the only thing that you can do to a layer. You can paint on a layer. You can add graphics to a layer. You can add effects and layer styles to a layer, all without disturbing the content of other layers. So you can imagine how useful layers can be when you're creating a complex photo composition using various pieces of artwork.

Layers give you the freedom to be a true digital artist in Photoshop Elements. Stay tuned for the rest of the movies in this chapter where I'll cover the important subject of layers in more detail.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for Photoshop Elements 8 for Mac Essential Training
Photoshop Elements 8 for Mac Essential Training

81 video lessons · 7223 viewers

Jan Kabili
Author

 
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  1. 2m 35s
    1. Welcome
      1m 18s
    2. Using the exercise files
      1m 17s
  2. 13m 0s
    1. Touring Elements
      7m 24s
    2. Starting from the Welcome screen
      5m 36s
  3. 16m 11s
    1. Importing photos from a camera
      8m 48s
    2. Dividing scanned photos
      3m 52s
    3. Capturing frames from video
      3m 31s
  4. 23m 13s
    1. Touring Bridge CS4
      7m 44s
    2. Opening files from Bridge into Elements
      5m 1s
    3. Rotating photos
      1m 17s
    4. Moving, deleting, and hiding photos
      4m 11s
    5. Renaming photos
      5m 0s
  5. 29m 16s
    1. Tagging photos with keywords
      6m 28s
    2. Rating and labeling photos
      5m 55s
    3. Sorting photos by filter
      6m 23s
    4. Finding photos
      4m 33s
    5. Organizing photos in Collections
      5m 57s
  6. 52m 52s
    1. Touring the Quick Fix workspace in the Editor
      8m 34s
    2. Applying Quick Fix lighting controls
      3m 33s
    3. Applying Quick Fix color controls
      6m 30s
    4. Applying Quick Fix sharpening
      3m 44s
    5. Using Quick Fix touchup tools
      7m 43s
    6. Fixing group shots in Guided Edit
      6m 25s
    7. Merging multiple exposures in Guided Edit
      7m 24s
    8. Applying the Scene Cleaner in Guided Edit
      6m 31s
    9. Running Automated Actions in Guided Edit
      2m 28s
  7. 30m 57s
    1. Touring the Full Edit workspace
      6m 5s
    2. Working with tabbed documents
      4m 28s
    3. Arranging panels
      4m 14s
    4. Using tools
      8m 15s
    5. Setting editing preferences
      3m 8s
    6. Adjusting color settings
      4m 47s
  8. 46m 0s
    1. Using Undo History
      6m 6s
    2. Zooming and navigating
      5m 38s
    3. Creating a blank file
      5m 43s
    4. Photo resizing and resolution
      8m 21s
    5. Enlarging the canvas
      3m 10s
    6. Cropping and straightening an image
      3m 12s
    7. Using the Recompose tool
      3m 23s
    8. Processing multiple files
      6m 16s
    9. Saving and formats
      4m 11s
  9. 23m 25s
    1. Understanding layers
      3m 30s
    2. Working in the Layers panel
      8m 53s
    3. Combining images with layer masks
      11m 2s
  10. 22m 24s
    1. Understanding selections
      3m 39s
    2. Manual selection tools
      7m 36s
    3. Automatic selection tools
      3m 9s
    4. Refining a selection
      3m 59s
    5. Modifying and saving selections
      4m 1s
  11. 55m 51s
    1. Using adjustment layers
      9m 21s
    2. Adding a Levels adjustment layer
      4m 49s
    3. Applying a Shadows/Highlights adjustment
      3m 24s
    4. Adding a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer
      5m 30s
    5. Adjusting with Color Curves
      4m 3s
    6. Removing a color cast
      3m 55s
    7. Correcting skin tone
      2m 10s
    8. Reducing digital noise
      3m 44s
    9. Sharpening photos
      9m 42s
    10. Working with raw photos
      9m 13s
  12. 18m 58s
    1. Using the Smart Brush tool
      5m 20s
    2. Using the Detail Smart Brush tool
      3m 30s
    3. Dodging and burning
      1m 49s
    4. Healing blemishes
      3m 51s
    5. Removing content with the Clone Stamp tool
      3m 15s
    6. Removing red-eye
      1m 13s
  13. 26m 26s
    1. Applying filters
      5m 6s
    2. Adding effects
      3m 0s
    3. Using layer styles
      3m 36s
    4. Using shapes
      8m 25s
    5. Using the Cookie Cutter tool
      2m 54s
    6. Converting color to black and white
      3m 25s
  14. 7m 35s
    1. Creating text
      4m 7s
    2. Editing text
      3m 28s
  15. 27m 26s
    1. Making a photo collage
      7m 15s
    2. Stitching a photo panorama
      3m 43s
    3. Saving for the web
      6m 40s
    4. Creating web galleries in Bridge
      6m 47s
    5. Creating a PDF slideshow
      3m 1s
  16. 4m 34s
    1. Printing photos and contact sheets
      2m 49s
    2. Sending photos by mail
      1m 45s
  17. 23s
    1. Goodbye
      23s

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