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Every photo begins life as a few channels of data, most commonly one each for red, green and blue, fused into a single composite image. Whether it comes from the least expensive digital camera or a professional level drum scanner, the image exists entirely on one layer. One and only one color value exists for each and every pixel, and there's no such thing as transparency. Such an image is said to be flat, but as soon as you begin combining images, you add layers. Each layer serves as an independent image that you can stack, transform or blend with other layers. An image that contains two or more layers is called a layered composition or simply a composition or comp.
There's no need to wait until certain point in the editing cycle to build such a composition. You can add layers whenever you like, as we have several times in previous chapters. In fact, it's difficult to avoid adding layers in Photoshop, but layers have a way of becoming even more useful after some of the basic editing is out of the way. That's why I've waited until now to show you the many ways to create and manage layers in Photoshop. So with your permission, I'd like to introduce you to the layered composition as if you've never witnessed such a thing in your entire life.
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