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Learning how to use Adobe Photoshop efficiently and effectively is the best way to get the most out of your pixels and create stunning imagery. Master the fundamentals of this program with Julieanne Kost, and discover how to achieve the results you want with Photoshop and its companion programs, Bridge and Camera Raw. This comprehensive course covers nondestructive editing techniques using layers, masking, adjustment layers, blend modes, and Smart Objects. Find out how to perform common editing tasks, including lens correction, cropping and straightening, color and tonal adjustments, noise reduction, shadow and highlight detail recovery, sharpening, and retouching. Julieanne also shows how to achieve more creative effects with filters, layer effects, illustrative type, and the Photomerge command for creating panoramas and composites.
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, 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 three open documents, and we can click on the tabs in order to see each one individually.
But I want to put all 3 of these separate documents into the same document so that I can work with multiple layers. There are 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 toolbar and then position it in the image area of the first document, pull down the mouse, and drag it over the tab of another document. When you position a 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 what I told it to, or what I really wanted it to do was I wanted it to center it. So, I am going to use the keyboard Cmd+Z or Ctrl+Z on Windows to undo that, and then I will return back to 03, the three 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 tab. 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 that we could do this that might be easier would be to see all our images at one time.
So I'm going to select window and then arrange and you can see that I have some keyboard shortcuts next to the command for tile. We created this shortcut in an earlier video. So you 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 just by clicking on the X icon in the tab. You can see that Photoshop automatically re-tiled 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 O 2 tree trucks image down here. Now, I can simply use the move tool and click it, 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 is still selected, so I need to actually click down below 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 open, 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 eye 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.
Then I came down to Transparency and gamut. I turn the grid size to none but by default this will actually be set to medium. So, let's go ahead and chose that, and click Okay. Now you can see that when I hide the visibility 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 2 is selected, so if I do something to my image, I would be doing it to Layer 2. 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 3 things that you cannot do with the background layer. The first thing that you can't do is you can't move it or re position it. Even if I have Move tool selected, if I click and drag in the background layer, when I release my cursor, Photoshop brings up the error message that I 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 in 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 1. 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 would 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 layer, is you cannot erase the transparency.
So if I tap the E key on the keyboard, or if I select my Eraser tool and I start erasing on the background, I'm not seeing the checkerboard here. Instead, I'm seeing white which happens to be my background color. So let me Undo that, and we're going to turn the background into a layer. Now there's many ways we can do this. We can go into 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 screened back 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 use Cmd+Z on a 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 start dragging with the Eraser, you can see that it's revealing that checkerboard underneath, so I'm actually erasing two transparencies. 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 1, 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 1 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 2 on the name, and we'll call this trunks. I'll 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've changed the stacking order on my layers panel. Now I brought in both 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'm 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 Delete key, but you could also drag it down to the trash icon in order to delete it.
Now, I know that I'm going to want this trunks layer to be a little bit smaller, but I'm not quite sure how much I want to resize it. So to make sure that I keep the document flexible, I'm 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 Option 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 and tap 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 Marquee 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 8 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 could 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 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 Gamut, and I'll change the grid size to none. We'll click Okay. Now we'll use that keyboard shortcut, maybe the 6 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 zero key in order to bring that back to a hundred percent. So just keep in mind that if you are going to use the numeric keys to change the opacity on the layers panel, you've got to select one of these tools first. So I might tap the V key first and then I probably would 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'll 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 okay. And then we'll close the file for now. I'm going to use Cmd+W or Ctrl+W on Windows (no period) Or you can 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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