Easy-to-follow video tutorials help you learn software, creative, and business skills.Become a member
As you think about layers in a Photoshop file, you really want to think of them as kind of layers of transparency or acetate. If you think back in the old days-- this will age some of you. If you think of the old overhead projectors where you could write on sheets of plastic, and then layer those pieces of plastic on top of each other to create a final composite. That's kind of how layers work inside the Photoshop document. So, you can see I've got a bunch layers here in my Layers panel and many of the layers don't actually take up the whole Canvas area. In the the Background layers heree, Option01 and Option02, they fill up the whole visible area, but you can see there are some layers that have transparency around them represented by the checkerboard in the thumbnail here.
What I want to do is learn how to change the stacking order, and it's pretty intuitive. You just click and drag to change the stacking order within the Layers panel. So, if I click in the word Lily or the thumbnail of Lily and drag that down somewhere else in the layer stack, you'll see there's a dark thick line when I go between two layers. I can just decide where I want to insert or change the stacking order of that particular layer. So, I've moved Lily below Tulips and you can see I've got the Mixed layer there. Now if I clicked on the word Mixed to target that layer to select it, since I have my Move tool selected, and I can use that to move the layers around and reposition them within the Canvas area here, then I can even position them so that they're clipped by the Canvas window.
They're not deleting those pixels. I'm just hiding them through the visible area there and I can always bring those back by clicking and dragging and bringing those pixels back. All right. So, there's the Tulips layer that I can now see. If I want to rearrange Tulips to be behind or on top of Mixed, I can go ahead and click on the word Tulips and drag it above, just to change that stacking order. And now when I move the tulips layer by clicking and dragging on it, you'll see that it's above the Mixed layer. So, very easy. Just click and drag to move it up and down the layer stack. If there's a particular group of layers here, so I have a logo group here, if I turn that down, there's a stacking order within group as well and you can certainly add layers or move layers around from group to group.
So, if I click on the word Dahlia or the thumbnail for the Dahlia layer and move it into the group, you'll see that I can change the stacking order and just move things in and out of the group. I'm going to go ahead and undo that, Command+Z, Ctrl+Z, and there you have it. It's pretty straightforward. Just click and drag within the Layers panel and decide where you want you layer to fall. When you're looking at a layer composition here, now when it comes time to actually understanding what's going on in any particular document when you're working with layers, you need to be sure you don't get fooled by what you see in the image window here. The Layers panel is what's always going to tell you the truth.
That's what shows you what's your true stacking order is, and as you start doing a bunch of stuff to change the visual effects of your particular layer document here, it gets harder and harder to actually see what's going on by just looking at the image window. So, that's why the Layers panel really is your friend. It's your navigation center to really understand the structure of your document. Think of it as a way to really know the truth of what's going on in your document. It's more than just a list of layers that you can click and drag around to change the stacking order. It really is going to help you keep organized for your particular document.
Get unlimited access to all courses for just $25/month.Become a member
Access exercise files from a button right under the course name.
Search within course videos and transcripts, and jump right to the results.
Remove icons showing you already watched videos if you want to start over.
Make the video wide, narrow, full-screen, or pop the player out of the page into its own window.
Click on text in the transcript to jump to that spot in the video. As the video plays, the relevant spot in the transcript will be highlighted.