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Layers are possibly the most important feature in the Full Edit Workspace. Layers give you the freedom to treat individual pieces of artwork separately. In the coming movies, we are going to be taking a look at what layers are, what the benefits are of using layers, and how to use them. I'm working in 07_01 beaches, which you'll find in the 07 Layers Sub-folder of the chapter 7 Exercise Files folder. You might think of layers like paints of glass, each of which has separate paint on them; stacked one on top of the other. Where a layer has no paint or no artwork, it's transparent and you can see through it to the layer below, or in this analogy, to the paint of glass below. Let's see how that works on this file. I'm going to the Layers palette in the palette Bin on the right, which is command central for managing layers in a file. I'm going to collapse the Effects palette, which is above the Layers palette, so that you can see all the layers in this file.
This file has three layers and you can see them here one on each bar: the sign layer, the palm tree layer, and the Background layer. In order to see what's on each layer, I'm going to make each layer invisible, one layer at a time and the way I'm going to do that is by clicking the Eye icon to the left of each Layer. I'm going to click the Eye icon to the left of the sign layer to turn that layer off temporarily. And when I do, the SAIL SURF sign, the flag, and the rocks are all going to disappear and now, you can see what's on the layers below.
I'll turn that layer back on by clicking in the Eye icon spot again and now, I go down to the next layer to show you what's on that the same way. On the palm tree layer, I'm going to click the Eye icon and the palm tree disappears. The palm tree is the only thing on this layer. I'm going to make the palm tree visible again by clicking in the Eye icon space again. Notice that the palm tree comes in behind the rocks that are on the sign layer because the sign layer is above the palm tree layer in the Layers palette.
Finally, I'm going to go down to the bottom layer labeled Background and I'm going to turn that one off and you can see that everything else except what is on the sign layer and the palm tree layer has now disappeared. In its place, you'll see this gray and white checkerboard, which represents transparency in Photoshop Elements. I'll turn the Background layer back on. So, what's the reason to make use of lots of layers in your photo compositions. Layers give you the flexibility to make changes to individual pieces of artwork without affecting the rest of the composition. For example, let's work with the palm tree and move it to the other side of the photo. To do that, I'm going to select the layer that has the palm tree by clicking right on the gray bar of the layer. With the palm tree layer selected, I'm going to the Toolbox on the left and I'm going to get the Move tool. You now can see this bounding box around the content of the palm tree layer and when I click inside that bounding box and move to the right, there goes the palm tree.
That may not be the most beautiful composition in the world but it makes the point that when I do something to the content of the palm tree layer, it affects only that layer; nothing else in this composition has moved. And that's not the only thing that I can do to the content of individual layers. Let's try something else. I'm going to select the sign layer in the Layers palette and then I'm going to go over to the Toolbox and I'm going to click and hold on the Brush tool and from the tool menu that flies out, I'm going to select the Color Replacement tool.
The Color Replacement tool is great for changing the color of items. I'm going to go to the foreground color box in the tool bar, click to open the color picker and I'm going to choose a color by clicking in this large color field. I'll take this dark red and I'll click OK. Now, I'm going to come in and start drawing on top of the flag here and notice that as I do, the color in that flag is changing from yellow to red and even though I'm dragging way up here with my brush tip, only the flag is changing.
The reason for that is that the flag is on a separate layer; the sign layer from the palm tree and the Background and all the other content behind it, so that only the flag on ad the sign layer changes when I paint there. So, you can imagine how useful this can be when you are creating complex photo compositions with different pieces of artwork on different layers. Layers give you the freedom to be a true digital artist in Photoshop Elements.
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