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Photoshop Elements 8 for Mac Essential Training highlights the important features of this comprehensive image editing application. Photographer Jan Kabili shows how to use Photoshop Elements 8, along with its companion program, Bridge CS4, to organize and edit photos, build projects like web galleries and photo collages, and share photos with family and friends. Jan dives deep into the application's editing tools, which rival those of the full product, Photoshop, in their ability to take snapshots and turn them into great photos. Exercise files accompany the course.
The layers panel contains important features for managing the layers in a file. In this movie, I'll run through some essential layers panel features. First let's talk about selecting a layer. I think that the number one thing that slips people up when they are editing is that they try to do something to the content of a layer without selecting that layer first in the layers panel. The easy way to select a layer is to go to the layers panel, which I've dragged out of the column on the right so that you can see it better, and just click on the layer on which you want to work. So if I want to do something to the Sign layer, I'll just click on a blank area of the Sign layer, and the focus in the layers panel goes to that layer and it's ready to be worked on.
I am not limited to selecting just one layer at a time. I can select more than one layer. Let's say that I want to select both the Sign layer and the Palm tree layer. I already have the Sign layer selected. Now I am going to hold down the Command key on my keyboard and click on the Palm Tree layer as well, and that selects that layer too. Now if I got the Move tool for example and I clicked and dragged in the image, the content of both layers would move with me. I am going to undo that by pressing Command+Z on my keyboard. If I wanted to select all three of these layers, I could click on the topmost layer, and then hold the Shift key and click on the bottom most layer and that would select those two layers and all layers in between.
I am going to go back and click on just the Sign layer, so that only that layer is selected. There is one other way to select a layer and that's with the Auto Select option of the Move tool. So to show you that I'm going to select the Move tool in the toolbar and notice that up in the Options bar for this tool, there is a feature, Auto Select layer, which is checked by default, and the next feature Show Bounding Box is also checked by default. Because Show Bounding Box is checked here, there is a dotted line around the content of the selected layer, in the image.
I'll turn all the other layers off temporarily by holding the Option key, and clicking the Eye icon to the left of the Sign layer. So that you can see that its content is all down here in the bottom portion of the image, and that's where the bounding box is, and then I hold the Option key and click on the Visibility Field of the Sign layer again, to turn the other layers back on. Now, the Auto Select layer feature works like this. If I click on part of the image in the Document window, the highlight in the layers panel will go to that area of the image. So keep your eye on the layers panel as I move my mouse over the image and click on the Palm Tree. Notice that the Palm Tree layer is now selected, and if I click on the background, the Background layer is now selected.
And that only happens when I have the Move tool selected in the toolbar and Auto Select layer is checked in the Options bar. This feature can be useful, but it also can trip you up by switching layers on you, and when you don't realize that that's happened. So if this feature bothers you, you can always disable it by unchecking Auto Select layer. Now let's talk about how to create a new layer. As you build compositions in Elements, you're going to want to add layers to your compositions, so the different pieces of artwork are on their own independent layers, so that you can work on them separately without impacting the rest of the image.
I want to make a new layer now above the Sign layer, and so the first step is to select the Sign layer in the layers panel. I want to select the layer beneath which the new layer is going to come in, and then to make the new layer above that, I'll go down to the Create New layer icon on the bottom-left of the layers panel and I'll click and that creates a new layer called layer 1. I'm a real stickler for naming layers with meaningful names, so that they are easier to find later, when you have lots and lots of layers in the layers panel. So I am going to double-click right on that default layer 1 name, to open this text editing field, and I'm going to name the layer, I'll type Arrow instead of layer 1, and then I'll click off of that text editing area.
Let me show you this new layer by holding the Option key, as I click on the visibility field for the Arrow layer, and you can see that there currently is nothing on the Arrow layer, and in fact the Arrow layer is completely transparent, which is what this gray and white checkerboard pattern means. I'll hold the Option key and click again on the Visibility field on the Arrow layer to turn the other layers back on. I have the Arrow layer selected right now. So whatever I do in the image is going to take place on the Arrow layer. What I'd like to do is to draw an arrow right here.
So first I'll select a red color sampling it out of the image using the Eyedropper tool as I showed you how to do in an earlier movie. With that tool, I'll just click on top of the red, and that becomes the foreground color. Then I'll select the Brush tool in the toolbar. I'll move into the image. I want to make the brush smaller, so it's about the same size as these lines. So I'll press my Left Bracket key a couple of times, and then I'm going to draw an arrow here. That arrow is located on the Arrow layer.
So if I hold the Option key and click on the Eye icon on the Arrow layer, you can see that that is the only content of the Arrow layer. I'll hold the Option key, and click on the Eye icon again. Now how do you delete a layer? So let's say I decide I don't want that entire layer that has the arrow. I really don't like that. I can delete that layer by clicking and holding and dragging the layer down here to the Trash icon at the bottom of the layers panel. Now the layer has gone as well as its content. Next I want to talk about the stacking order of layers in the layers panel.
The order in which the layers are stacked here affects the order of the way the content is arranged in the image. To show you that, I am going to click on the Palm Tree layer to select it. Then I'm going to get the Move tool, I'm going to click inside of the bounding box that surround the content of the Palm Tree layer and I am going to drag the palm tree over here behind the sign. Now the reason that the palm tree appears behind the sign in the image is that the Palm Tree layer is beneath the Sign layer in the layers panel. I can change the stacking order if I click-and-drag on the Palm Tree layer in the layers panel, and I drag it above the Sign layer and then release my mouse when the border at the top of the layers stack gets a little thick like this.
The Palm Tree layer is now above the Sign layer in the layers panel, and here in the image, the palm tree is now in front of the sign. If I go the other way dragging the palm tree beneath the Sign layer, and when the border lights up down here releasing my mouse, now the Sign layer is above the Palm Tree layer in the layers panel, and now in the image, the content of the Sign layer is in front of the content of the Palm Tree layer, and both are in front of the content of the Background layer. One last thing I want to tell you about the layers panel, and that has to do with this Background layer.
Notice that it look slightly different than the other two layers, in that it has a lock on it, and it's name Background is in italics. By default when you open a photograph, you usually get only one layer with a name Background like this, and the Background layer acts differently than other kinds of layers. For one thing you cannot move the Background layer in the stacking order. It just won't go. For another, if you erase the Background layer it acts differently than the other layers. I am going to get the Eraser tool and I'm going to click on the Sign layer, and then I'm going to start erasing and as you can see that eliminates the content of the selected Sign layer.
If I show you that content now by holding the Option key and clicking on the Visibility field for the Sign layer, you can see that where there was a flag, there are now transparent pixels. I'll hold the Option key, and click on that Eye icon again to turn the other layers back on, but the Background layer acts differently. If I select the Background layer and I start erasing, I do not get transparent pixels, instead I get whatever color happens to be in the background color box in the toolbar. I also can't move the content of the Background layer like I can the content of the other layers.
So if I get the Move tool and I try to drag in the Background layer, nothing happens. So for those reasons, the Background layer can trip you up. If you need to do something to the Background layer, and you can't, the way around that is to change it into a regular layer and the way that you change the Background layer to a regular layer is kind of odd. You may not anticipate this. You double-click the layer name Background. That opens the New layer dialog box. I could leave the name here at its default layer 0, or I could type another name here, like Beach Scene and click OK, and that not only renames the Background layer, it turns it into a regular layer.
So now with the Move tool, I can move its content, with the Eraser tool, I can erase that layer to transparency, and I can change its stacking order in the layers panel. So with those essential layers panel features under your belt, you can start to build yourself some really interesting layered compositions. In the next movie, I am going to show you how you can bring one image into another and blend layers together using a Faux layer Mask.
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