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Photoshop's ability to work with layers is definitely one of my favorite features. So let's take a look at how we can master the layers panel in order to create a composite. We're going to start in Bridge and select these first three files to open. I'll select the first one and hold down the Shift key, and then select the third one. Then I'll hold down the Cmd key on the Mac or the Ctrl key on Windows and tap the O key in order to open all three images. Now we can see the tabs for all thre open documents and we can click on the tabs in order to see each one individually.
But I wannna put all three of these separate documents into the same document, so I can work with multiple layers. There a variety of different ways that we can do this. One of the probably easiest ways to do it, would be to select the Move Tool in the Tool Bar, and then position it in the image area of the first document hold down the mouse and drag it over the tab of another document. When you position the cursor over the other tab that document will pop to the foreground. Now I need to position my cursor anywhere in this document window.
But if I were to release the cursor now, you can see that Photoshop just sets down the image exactly where I told it to. But what I really wanted it to do was I wanted it to center it, so I'm goonna use the keyboard Cmd+Z, or Ctrl+Z on Windows, to undo that. And then I'll return back to O3, the tree branches image. I've got the move tool selected. I'll click and hold down the mouse, drag it on top of the first documents tabs. And this time when I bring my cursor back into the image area I'm going to hold down the Shift key.
And that tells Photoshop to drop this other document directly in the center of the first one. Excellent. So another way we can do this that might be easier, would be to see all of our images at one time. So I'm going to select Window and then Arrange, and you can see that I have some keyboard short cuts next to the command for tile. We created this short cut in an earlier video. So we can either use the shortcut or just select Tile. And now we can see all of our images.
The one that's active, or the currently selected document, is a little bit lighter as far as the title goes. So we know that we've already dragged this document into the dark trees, into the composite. So I can go ahead and close this. And I'll do that by just clicking on the X icon in the tab. You can see that Photoshop automatically retiled my images. This one on top is still selected and I can see the layers in the layers panel. So I'll move down and click on the 02 tree trunks image down here.
Now, I can simply use the move tool and click anywhere in the image area, hold down my mouse and drag it on top of the other image. Again, if I hold down the Shift key, then Photoshop will drop that right into the center. Again, I'm going to undo that just to show you another way that you can drag and drop layers. So I'll use Cmd+Z on the Mac, or Ctrl+Z on Windows. Now this top document's still selected so I need to actually click down below down in the 02 tree trunks file in order to make it the currently selected document.
And then, instead of dragging and dropping from the image area, you should know, that you can also drag and drop from the layers panel. So I'll click where it says Background, hold down my mouse, and then just drag this up to the top document. Again if I want it centered, I need to hold down the Shift key. Excellent. We no longer need the 02 tree trunks file opened, so let's close that. And now we can see in our 01 dark trees file, I have all three layers here. If I want to toggle on and off the visibility of my layers, I can click on the I icon next to any layer.
I can even toggle off the background layer. Now I'm looking at transparency right now, but, you can see that my screen is all white, and that's because in a past video I selected the Photoshop menu on the Mac or the Edit menu on Windows and then I chose Preferences. And I came down to Transparency and Gammet I turned the grid size to None, but by default this will actually be set to Medium so let's go ahead and choose that and click OK.
Now you can see that when I hide the viability of all three layers, Photoshop is showing me transparency with this checkerboard. Now we need to take a look at the background layer, because it is rather unique. When you first open a document, Photoshop might open that document as a background depending on the format that you're opening. You should know that just because you can see the layer, that doesn't necessarily mean that the layer is active. Right now layer two is selected so if I do something to my image I would be doing it to layer two.
I want to make sure that I come down and click on the Background layer in the Layers Panel in order to select it. Now there are three things that you cannot do with the background layer. The first thing that you can't do is you can't move it or reposition it. Even if I have the move tool selected, if I click and drag in the background layer, when I release my cursor Photoshop brings up the error message that it can't use the move tool because the layer is locked. And that's true, you can see here there is a lock icon on the background there.
And in fact you cannot remove that lock icon unless you turn the background, into a regular layer. Before we do that, I want to show you two other things that limit what you can do on the background. If I wanted to reposition the background, if I wanted to change the stacking order meaning that I wanted to not reposition it in the image area, but I actually wanted to move it on top of layer one. If I click and try to drag in the Layers panel, you can see that Photoshop gives me that international symbol for you can't do this.
And when I release my cursor, sure enough, the background is still at the bottom. Again, we need to turn the background into a layer in order to reposition it in the Layers panel and change the stacking order. And the third thing that you cannot do with the background there is that you cannot erase the transparency. So if I tap the E key on the key board or if I select my Eraser tool and I start erasing on the background, I'm not seeing the checkerboard here, instead I am seeing white which happens to be my background color.
So let me Undo that and we are going to turn the background into a layer. Now there is many ways we can do this, we can go under the Layer menu, and choose New, and Layer From Background. Or we can simply double-click on the word Background in the Layers panel. When you double-click on the word background it enables us to name the layer. So in this case I'm going to name it Texture, because I'm going to use this as kind of a screen backed texture in my composite. When I click OK you can see that we no longer have a background and the layers been unlocked.
Now I can reposition the layer and the stacking order if I wanted to, by dragging it up, and then releasing the mouse. I don't actually want to do that, so I'll Cmd+Z on the Mac, or Ctrl+Z on Windows to undo that. I can also reposition the layer by selecting the Move tool, and then dragging it over to the right. Again, I'll use Cmd or Ctrl+Z to undo that. And finally, if I tap the e key again to select the eraser, this time when I drag the eraser, you can see that it's revealing that checkerboard underneath, so I'm actually erasing to transparency.
Excellent, let's undo that as well, using Cmd+Z on the Mac or Ctrl+Z on Windows. Now I'm going to tap the V key in order to give me the move tool. And let's go ahead and rename the other layers. I'll select layer one and I'll also click to the left of the thumbnail right here in the empty square in order to make it visible. Then to rename I'll double-click on layer one and we'll call this branches. Then I'll move up to layer two. We can make it visible.
And then double-click on layer two, on the name, and we'll call this, trunks. Now, tap Return or Enter in order to apply that. Now, if I want to change the stacking order, or reposition how these appear, all I need to do is select the layer that I want to reposition, and then drag it up or drag it down, until I see that solid gray line. Then I can release the mouse and I have changed the stacking order on my Layer's panel. Now, I brought in both of the branches layer as well as the trunks layer in order to determine which one I liked better.
If we toggle on and off the visibility of the branches layer, I think I am going to like the trunks layer better. So I'll make the branches layer visible, and then I want to delete it. The easiest way to delete a layer in Photoshop is to simply tap the Dlt key. But you could also drag it down to the trash icon in order to delete it. Now I know that I am going to want this trunks layer to be a little bit smaller. But I am not quite sure how much I want to resize it. So to make sure that I keep the document flexible, I am going to turn that layer into a smart object first by selecting Convert to Smart Object.
Now when I select Edit and then Free Transform, I can scale this down, knowing that I can always rescale it back up without losing any quality. I'm going to hold down the Opt key on the Mac or the Alt key on Windows, as well as the Shift key, and then just drag to make it a little bit smaller. When I like the size, I'll go ahead the Enter or Return key. Now I want to change the opacity of the texture layer, so I'll select it on the Layers panel and then I can either use the opacity slider here.
In fact, I can click on the word Opacity and drag left or right in order to change the opacity. I can use the drop down arrow here, and then use the slider, or I can enter in a value. So let's go ahead and enter in 50, and then tap the Return or Enter key. I also want to show you one additional way and this is actually my favorite way. As long as you have one of these top tools selected, like the Move tool or the Marquis tool, you'll notice that none of these tools have an option for opacity or blend mode here in the Options bar.
So I can select any of these tools. And then I can use my numeric keys, in order to change the opacity on the Layers panel. So if I tap eight right now, you can see that my opacity went to 80%. If I type quickly, and I know the exact percentage I want to go to, I can type in 56 and I would go to 56%. Now, if you wanted to go back to 100%, you would tap the 0 key. And if you wanted to go down to nothing, to 0%, then you tap 00 twice.
But I'm not really getting a very realistic view of that background, because the checkerboard is getting in the way. So I'm going to return back to the Photoshop menu, on Windows, you'd go to the Edit menu, and then preferences, Transparency and Garmet, and I'll change the grid size to None. We'll click OK, and now we'll use that keyboard shortcut, maybe the six key, to give us 60% of the texture layer. Just in case you're wondering why you have to have these tools selected, let's select the Brush tool for a moment.
You can see that the brush tool has an opacity slider. So, if I were to tap the five key right now, it would change the opacity for the brush. I don't want that, so I'm going to tap the 0 key in order to bring that back to 100%. So just keep in mind that if you're going to use the numeric keys to change the opacity on the layers panel, you've gotta select one of these tools first. So I'm going to tap the V key first, and then I would probably tap like, four to get 40% or seven to get 70%.
Now at this point, we've done enough work on this image that I would probably want to save it. Because there are multiple layers, we don't actually have to worry about saving over the original file. But, if it makes you more comfortable, you can still select File and then Save As. You can see that for the format Photoshop is going to default to the Photoshop format because this has multiple layers. I'll go ahead and save it into the original folder this 11 layers, but I am going to change the name.
We're going to call it Composite.PSD. And then click Save. I do want to leave on this maximum compatibility because that's going to enable me to take this layered Photoshop document into another application that might not support layers, maybe Lightroom for example. We'll go ahead and click OK and then we'll close the file for now. I'm going to use Cmd+W or Ctrl+W on Windows or you could use the File menu and select Close.
If we return to Browse and Bridge now you can see that our composite file has been saved along with all of our original source images
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