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Understanding layers

From: Photoshop Elements 10 Essential Training

Video: Understanding layers

Every file that you open in the editor contains one or more layers. In the Full Photo Edit workspace, you have direct access to those layers in the Layers panel, which is here in the Task Pane on the right side of the Full Photo Edit workspace. You can use these layers to work on parts of an image independently without affecting the rest of the image. So what are layers? Well a common metaphor is that each layer is like a transparent pane of glass that you'll partially or completely fill with content like photos, graphics, or text.

Understanding layers

Every file that you open in the editor contains one or more layers. In the Full Photo Edit workspace, you have direct access to those layers in the Layers panel, which is here in the Task Pane on the right side of the Full Photo Edit workspace. You can use these layers to work on parts of an image independently without affecting the rest of the image. So what are layers? Well a common metaphor is that each layer is like a transparent pane of glass that you'll partially or completely fill with content like photos, graphics, or text.

A straight photograph starts out as a single layer, but you can add other layers above it or below it in a stack which is represented by this stack of bars here in the Layers panel. Each layer in the stack contains separate content. And if the content on a layer doesn't completely cover that layer, you'll be able to see down through that layer, like this purple flower layer, for example, to the content on the layers below. So what's the purpose of layers? They allow you to work on different pieces of content individually without affecting the rest of the image.

To see how that works, I have an image here with five layers. Each layer as I said is represented in the Layers panel by a bar and the bar contains the name of the layer and a small thumbnail that displays the content of that layer. The bottommost layer here is completely filled with a photograph of a green plant, as you can see on the photo thumbnail. The next layer, the red flower layer, is only partially filled with content. It contains a small photograph of a red flower at the bottom right corner, but the rest of this layer is empty or transparent and so you can see down through it to the green plant on the layer below.

And the gray and white checkerboard on the layer thumbnail of the red flower layer, the orange flower layer, and the purple flower layer represent the transparent parts of those layers. If you ever want to see what's on a particular layer, you can hold down the Alt key on a PC or the Option key on a Mac and click the Eye icon just to the left of that layer. And that will show you in the document window a larger view of what you can see on the photo thumbnail. So in this case you can see where there is content on the purple flower layer and where the rest of that layer is transparent.

I'm going to Alt+click or Option+click again on that Eye icon to make all of the other layers visible again too. I've included one special layer here, the topmost layer, which is a special type layer and you can see that it has a different kind of a layer thumbnail than the other layers. We'll be looking at type layers in more detail later in the course, but I did want you to know that there are special kinds of layers like type layers or like adjustment layers that contain instructions about how to change the appearance of photos on layers below.

And we'll be looking at adjustment layers later in the course too. But as I said, the purpose of layers is to allow you to work on some pieces of content individually without affecting the rest of the image. So for example, let's say that I want to move the orange flower here over to the other side of this image. To do that, I'll click on the orange flower layer. Notice that I'm clicking on a blank part of this layer in the Layers panel, not on the name of the layer or on the layer thumbnail. So I'll click on the layer to select it, and then I'm going to go over to the toolbar and I'll make sure that I have the Move tool selected there.

And then I'll click on the orange flower in the image and drag, and that will move just the orange flower without affecting any of these other pieces of content which are on other layers in this file. I can select multiple layers at a time and move those together without affecting other layers. So in the Layers panel, I could click on the purple flower layer, and then I'm going to hold down the Ctrl key on the PC, or the Command key on the Mac, which is a way to select nonadjacent layers in the Layers panel, and I'll click on the red flower layer.

In the image you can see that there's now a bounding box around the content of those two layers. And if I click and drag on one of the flowers, the other one goes with it, and I'll move those over to the left too. I'm going to go back to the Layers panel and I'll click on this Background layer to deselect all the flower layers, because I want to show you how you can select multiple layers that are next to one another. So say that I want to select all three flower layers. I can click on the red flower layer and then hold the Shift key and click on the purple flower layer, and that will select all layers in between.

And now I could move these three flowers together, or I can do something else to them. You can't make pixel-level changes to multiple layers, like painting on multiple layers, but there are other things you can do to multiple layers like aligning and distributing them. So with these three layers selected and with the Move tool selected in the toolbar, I'll go up to the Tool Options Bar for the Move tool and I'm going to go to this Align menu, click the arrow to the left of it, and I'll choose to align the content of the three selected layers by the left edges.

And these three flowers are now aligned nicely by their left edges. And if I want to distribute them evenly but just the same amount of space between each flower, I still have the three layers selected, I'll go up to the Distribute menu in the Options Bar, and I'll choose to distribute by the vertical centers, and now there's automatically the same amount of space between the three flowers. To deselect layers, you can just click on a different layer in the Layers panel. I'll click on the Spring Fling type layer and that deselects the three flower layers.

Another thing to know about layers is that the order of the layers in the Layers panel from top to bottom controls the order in which the content of those layers appears in the image from front to back. So the Spring Fling text is now on top of the two flowers and on top of the green plant. And that's because in the Layers panel, the Spring Fling type layer is above all those other layers. You can change the order of layers by dragging a layer to a different position in the Layers panel.

So I'm going to drag the Spring Fling layer underneath the purple flower layer. And when this bar beneath the purple flower layer turns bold, I'll release my mouse. Keep your eye on the content in the image as I do this. Notice that the Spring Fling text is now behind the purple flower. If I drag the Spring Fling type layer even further down in the stack beneath the orange flower layer and release my mouse when the border beneath the orange flower layer turns bold, the text is now behind both the purple flower and the orange flower.

To finish up, I'm going to move the Spring Fling text over to the right so we can read it. With the Move tool and the Spring Fling type layer still selected, I'll just click and drag to the right. What I hope you'll take from this movie is a basic understanding of what layers are and the benefit that they offer, which is to give you a way to act on individual pieces of content without affecting other content. In the next movie, I'll get into more detail about working with layers in the Layers panel.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for Photoshop Elements 10 Essential Training
Photoshop Elements 10 Essential Training

140 video lessons · 9288 viewers

Jan Kabili
Author

 
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 23m 48s
    1. Welcome
      58s
    2. Getting around Elements
      6m 9s
    3. Exploring the differences in Mac versions of Elements
      5m 41s
    4. Working with Organizer catalogs
      6m 16s
    5. Using the exercise files
      4m 44s
  2. 21m 39s
    1. Touring the Organizer
      5m 35s
    2. Importing photos from a camera
      4m 44s
    3. Importing photos from a computer
      3m 1s
    4. Importing photos from an iPhoto library
      5m 27s
    5. Importing photos from external drives
      2m 52s
  3. 31m 24s
    1. Working in Thumbnail view
      4m 10s
    2. Working in Folder Location view
      4m 33s
    3. Reviewing photos in Full Screen view
      4m 55s
    4. Editing and organizing in Full Screen view
      7m 20s
    5. Comparing photos in Side by Side view
      4m 10s
    6. Displaying photos in Date view
      2m 40s
    7. Viewing photo information
      3m 36s
  4. 47m 47s
    1. Using keyword tags to categorize photos
      6m 42s
    2. Organizing keyword tags
      4m 25s
    3. Finding photos by keyword tag
      3m 39s
    4. Automatically tagging people
      8m 21s
    5. Using automatic smart tagging
      5m 36s
    6. Assigning ratings to photos
      4m 9s
    7. Creating albums to organize photos
      5m 7s
    8. Creating smart albums
      5m 52s
    9. Stacking photos to reduce thumbnail clutter
      3m 56s
  5. 24m 35s
    1. Finding photos that are visually similar to each other
      4m 3s
    2. Searching for an object in a photo
      3m 45s
    3. Finding duplicate photos
      4m 50s
    4. Searching by text
      5m 59s
    5. Exploring the Find menu
      4m 27s
    6. Finding photos in the Timeline
      1m 31s
  6. 22m 41s
    1. Deleting photos
      4m 30s
    2. Renaming photos
      2m 24s
    3. Moving photos
      3m 58s
    4. Reconnecting missing files
      4m 37s
    5. Changing photo dates
      4m 29s
    6. Backing up
      2m 43s
  7. 16m 14s
    1. Choosing an editing workspace
      4m 37s
    2. Autocorrecting with the Organizer's Photo Fix options
      3m 47s
    3. Photo finishing with the Organizer's Photo Fix options
      4m 2s
    4. Changing a Photo Fix adjustment
      3m 48s
  8. 22m 10s
    1. Editing with assistance: the Guided Edit workspace
      6m 27s
    2. Retouching a photo the step-by-step way
      7m 55s
    3. Creating a dreamlike Orton effect
      1m 8s
    4. Simulating shallow depth of field
      4m 11s
    5. Creating a collage using Picture Stack
      2m 29s
  9. 29m 26s
    1. Quick improvements: introducing the Quick Edit workspace
      3m 28s
    2. Applying Quick Edit corrections
      4m 8s
    3. Adjusting lighting
      4m 0s
    4. Correcting color
      4m 20s
    5. Fixing red-eye, improving skies, and touching up photos
      6m 28s
    6. Sharpening images
      3m 10s
    7. Saving in Quick Edit
      3m 52s
  10. 41m 16s
    1. Full control: introducing the Full Edit workspace
      5m 19s
    2. Tips for using the editing tools
      3m 50s
    3. Customizing panels
      5m 10s
    4. Undoing your work
      6m 22s
    5. Zooming and navigating
      4m 41s
    6. Saving images and examining file formats
      4m 50s
    7. Working with multiple documents
      4m 0s
    8. Creating a file from scratch
      2m 57s
    9. Customizing Editor preferences
      4m 7s
  11. 25m 42s
    1. Understanding layers
      7m 3s
    2. Managing layers in the Layers panel
      7m 19s
    3. Tips for working with layers
      4m 25s
    4. Understanding layer masks
      6m 55s
  12. 29m 59s
    1. Understanding selections
      6m 49s
    2. Using manual selection tools
      4m 42s
    3. Modifying selections
      4m 20s
    4. Using the automatic selection tools
      7m 11s
    5. Refining selections
      4m 50s
    6. Saving selections
      2m 7s
  13. 23m 52s
    1. Retouching blemishes with the Spot Healing Brush tool
      2m 50s
    2. Retouching skin with the Healing Brush tool
      6m 7s
    3. Retouching with the Clone Stamp tool
      1m 58s
    4. Using the Content-Aware option in the Spot Healing Brush to remove content
      3m 13s
    5. Touching up photos with the Smart Brush tools
      7m 22s
    6. Using the Dodge, Burn, and Sponge tools
      2m 22s
  14. 1h 0m
    1. Understanding color management
      7m 23s
    2. Understanding adjustment layers
      6m 49s
    3. Adjusting part of a photo
      6m 16s
    4. Correcting contrast and brightness using Levels controls
      5m 6s
    5. Enhancing color with Hue/Saturation
      4m 32s
    6. Improving shadow and highlights using Shadow/Highlight
      2m 36s
    7. Adjusting lighting and color using Color Curves
      3m 53s
    8. Removing a color cast
      2m 11s
    9. Converting color to black and white
      3m 15s
    10. Reducing noise
      3m 53s
    11. Sharpening images
      6m 43s
    12. Processing multiple photos
      8m 19s
  15. 23m 6s
    1. Resizing and changing photo resolution
      7m 1s
    2. Cropping photos
      5m 35s
    3. Straightening photos
      2m 35s
    4. Adding canvas around photos
      2m 43s
    5. Changing a photos orientation using the Recompose tool
      5m 12s
  16. 23m 50s
    1. Combining photos using the Place command
      5m 21s
    2. Using a layer mask to hide a background
      6m 26s
    3. Blending images using a gradient
      8m 18s
    4. Blending images using Blend modes
      3m 45s
  17. 24m 2s
    1. Creating text
      6m 22s
    2. Editing text
      3m 49s
    3. Creating text on a selection
      6m 1s
    4. Creating text around a shape
      3m 51s
    5. Creating text on a custom path
      3m 59s
  18. 22m 43s
    1. Applying filters
      5m 24s
    2. Adding effects
      2m 6s
    3. Adding layer styles
      7m 38s
    4. Making shapes
      5m 17s
    5. Using the Cookie Cutter tool
      2m 18s
  19. 42m 14s
    1. Understanding Camera Raw
      3m 35s
    2. The Camera Raw interface
      5m 16s
    3. Adjusting color using the white balance controls
      4m 41s
    4. Controlling lighting and contrast
      6m 26s
    5. Enhancing photos with the Clarity, Vibrance, and Saturation controls
      2m 39s
    6. Cropping and straightening
      2m 12s
    7. Reducing Noise
      2m 24s
    8. Sharpening
      6m 46s
    9. Outputting from Camera Raw
      4m 43s
    10. Processing multiple photos in Camera Raw
      3m 32s
  20. 56m 43s
    1. Creating a photo book
      6m 50s
    2. Completing the photo book
      10m 5s
    3. Creating a photo calendar
      8m 19s
    4. Creating a photo greeting card
      5m 17s
    5. Making other photo creations in the Create workspace
      2m 8s
    6. Outputting photo creations from the Create workspace
      2m 50s
    7. Creating a photo slideshow in Windows
      8m 45s
    8. Completing the photo slideshow
      3m 31s
    9. Making a scrapbook page from scratch in Full Edit
      8m 58s
  21. 41m 34s
    1. Printing photos
      8m 30s
    2. Printing contact sheets and picture packages in Windows
      5m 23s
    3. Printing contact sheets and picture packages on a Mac
      8m 33s
    4. Ordering prints from the Organizer
      4m 22s
    5. Sharing photos by email from the Organizer
      3m 46s
    6. Sharing photos with Photo Mail in Windows
      5m 3s
    7. Sharing photos on Facebook from the Organizer
      3m 42s
    8. Sharing photos on Flickr from the Organizer
      2m 15s
  22. 7m 34s
    1. Signing up for an Adobe ID
      2m 20s
    2. Sharing online albums from the Organizer to Photoshop.com
      5m 14s
  23. 40s
    1. Goodbye
      40s

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