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Exploring layer basics

From: Photoshop CS6 Essential Training

Video: Exploring layer basics

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. I am going to start by selecting these three images in Bridge and then I'll choose File>Open or we could double-click in order to open all three images. I know that all three images are open because I can see the tabs across the top, clicking on any of these tabs will display that image. I want to combine all three of these images into a single document and there is a variety of different ways that we can do that.

Exploring layer basics

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. I am going to start by selecting these three images in Bridge and then I'll choose File>Open or we could double-click in order to open all three images. I know that all three images are open because I can see the tabs across the top, clicking on any of these tabs will display that image. I want to combine all three of these images into a single document and there is a variety of different ways that we can do that.

I think the easiest way would be to click on say the Snow file. I have got my Move tool selected and I'll click anywhere in the image area and drag on top of the other file that I want to drop this one into. As soon as I position my cursor on the tab for the Clouds file, you notice that it popped forward. Now I can release my cursor anywhere in this area to drop the file, but the thing is, is that the file is now off centered. So I am going to quickly undo that, return back to the Snow layer by clicking the Tab and this time, when I drag and drop I am going to hold down the Shift key and that will center the layer that I'm dropping right on top of the file that I'm dropping it into.

Now I no longer need the Snow layer, so we can close that. And let's take a look at the Water layer. If you don't like dragging and dropping using the tabs another way to do this would be to show all of your open documents. So I will use Window>Arrange and then Tile All Vertically. Now in a previous lesson, I assigned keyboard shortcuts not only to Tile All Vertically which is Command+Shift+T or Ctrl+Shift+T, I also assigned a keyboard shortcut to consolidate All to Tabs which is Command+Shift+R in the Mac or Ctrl+Shift+R on Windows.

And the reason that I did that is the often times when I'm creating a composite and I don't know which images I'm going to use, I want to open a lot of images and then go back and forth between seeing the composite image and whatever else I have opened to see what other images, I can bring in to add to the composite. For now, we'll just choose to tile them all vertically so that I can see both of my open documents. Now, I can either click in the image area with the Move tool and drag it on top of the Clouds file or if I didn't have the Move tool selected and I didn't want to take the time to select it, I can drag from my Background layer and drop it onto my composite image.

In this case, I'll hold down the Shift key again in order to center that. Now I no longer need the Water file open, so I will target it and then click on the Close icon. Now we can see in the Layers panel, that I have all three layers in a single document. I have got the Water file, it's stacked on top because it's the last layer that I brought in. If I want to hide this layer, I can click on the eye icon to toggle the Transparency. Now we can see the Snow layer underneath. If I want to hide that, I can click on the eye icon and now we can see the background.

I can even hide the Background layer and then we will see transparency below it. Now let's take a minute and talk about the Background layer because it's a unique layer. There are at least three things that you can't do to a background layer that you can do to any other layer, the first thing is you can't reposition the background layer. Now you want to be careful, just because the Background layer is visible does not mean that that's the targeted layer. In fact, right now layer 2 is the targeted layer and I know that because it's highlighted.

If I want to target the Background layer I need to click on it. Now if I wanted to reposition the Background layer and I have my Move tool and I click and drag, when I let go, Photoshop is going to tell me that it cannot use the Move tool because the layer is locked. So by default your Background layers are going to be locked. So any time you open up a photograph, either a JPEG file from Bridge or a RAW file through Adobe Camera Raw, it's going to come in the Photoshop as a flattened file, as this background file.

So you cannot reposition it. The other thing that you can't do is you can't change the stacking order so if I wanted to put the Cloud image above these other two images, you'll notice that in a Layers panel, I can't drag and drop it. And the third thing that's unique about a background is that it cannot have transparency. So let me click on Layer 1 for a moment, and make it visible. I am going to hide the Background layer just to show you that when I select the Eraser tool and I start erasing on this layer I'm actually erasing to transparency and we can see that checkerboard behind the image.

Now I will undo that, I will hide that layer, we will return back to the Background and make it visible. And watch what happens when I use the eraser here, instead of a erasing to transparency, Photoshop erases to your background color. So again let's go ahead and undo that. So now you know kind of the three key differences between a background layer and just a regular layer. You can't move it because it's locked, you can't reposition it and you can't erase to transparency.

But it's so easy to convert the background into a regular layer. Most people think that a layered document in Photoshop has to have a background layer when in fact it does not. If I choose Layer>New>Layer from Background, Photoshop will convert the Background layer into a regular layer. The other quicker way to do this is to simply double-click on the Background layer. I prefer this method because when you double- click, you get an option to name the layer.

So I will go ahead and name this Cloud and click OK. Now that this is a regular layer, if I use the Eraser tool you can see that I can erase to transparency. Let's undo that using Cmd+ or Ctrl+Z. I can also reposition this by dragging it to the top of my layer stack so now it's above the other two layers and I could also grab my Move tool and reposition this if I wanted to. For now I will undo that as well. Let's go ahead and take the time right now to name these other two layers just to keep our Layers panel tidy.

The way I would do that is just double- click on the layer name itself, I will call this one Water. And then I will double-click on the bottommost layer now and we will call this one Snow. And I'm just happy in the Return key or the Enter key in order to commit that rename. Alright let's also toggle on the visibility of the Water layer and the Snow layer. I know that in my final image, I'm going to want the Cloud layer smaller so I will target that on my Layers panel. But I'm not quite sure how small I'm going to eventually end up making this layer.

So before I start transforming it I am going to choose Layer>Smart Objects and I am going to convert this to a Smart Object. That way if I transfer it too small and later change my mind and when I transform it larger, I am not going to loose any image quality. Now I will select Edit and then Free Transform. If I hold down the Shift key, I will maintain the proportions of the image and if I hold down the Option or the Alt key, I can scale this image from the center. So let's make it about that size, I also want to reposition it, so I will position my cursor inside of the Free Transform handles and just scoot it over and then tap Enter or Return to apply that transformation.

Now I brought in two options for this background, either the Water layer or the Snow layer. Let's hide the Water layer for a minute and look at the Snow layer. I think between the two of these, probably the Water layer looks a lot better than the Snow layer because this line going straight across my image is quite distracting. So in order to delete a layer, you want to make sure that you have that layer targeted in your Layers panel. And then just tap the Delete key. You could drag it down to the Trash to throw it away, but it will really save time to just know that Delete will delete that layer.

Now let's' toggle on the visibility of the Water layer. I think that looks good, but I want to decrease the Opacity of this layer. You will see in the Layers panel, there's an Opacity slider, I can either enter in a numeric value by swiping here and just typing in maybe 50% or I can click and use the slider to change the Opacity of the layer or I can position my cursor on top of the word Opacity and I get my scrubby sliders where I can click and drag left or right to change the Opacity.

So there's a lot of different ways to change the opacity of the layer on the Layers panel. Now it's difficult to see exactly what this is going to look like if I were to print it because the checkerboard here is very distracting. So I am going to turn that off by going under the Photoshop menu to Preferences and then Transparency and Gamut. You might have already turned this off in a previous lesson, but I'm going to select None right now and click OK. Now what we are seeing when we've hidden that transparency is a version of the file almost as if it's previewing like it's a flattened file and printed on white paper.

Alright, one other way that we can change the Opacity of the layer is by using the numbers across the top of our keyboard. But you have to be a little bit careful because right now, certainly I can tap like the 5 key and the Opacity for the layer change to 50%, if tap the 7 key we get 70%, you can type quickly like you could type 88, and then get 88%. If you want 100% you type 0 and that will bring you up to 100%. Now the reason that the numeric keys are changing the Opacity on the Layers panel is because I have the Move tool selected, you do need to be a little bit careful because if you don't have one of the top six tools selected and instead maybe you have the paintbrush then when you tap the 5 key the Opacity for the paintbrush changes not the Opacity for the Layers panel.

So I will just tap 0 in order to reset the Opacity for the paintbrush and then tap the V key in order to select the Move tool. Now at this point we've done enough work on this image that I would want to save it. Because there are multiple layers in it, if I choose File and then Save, we're not going to save over the original JPEG file that Clouds JPEG file, the name that we can see right here because a JPEG file can't have multiple layers.

So you could do a Save here, we could also choose Save As either way. That will ask me to rename the file, so I'll call this WindowSeat and I'll save it into my layers folder and I want to make sure that for my format, it's going to be a Photoshop format and then I keep all of my layers because I didn't want to flatten this file otherwise if I want to make a change to it later it's going to be much more difficult. So I'll click Save, click OK and if I scoot over to Bridge we can now see our new file right there in our layers folder.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for Photoshop CS6 Essential Training
Photoshop CS6 Essential Training

148 video lessons · 96704 viewers

Julieanne Kost
Author

 
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 1m 42s
    1. What is Photoshop?
      1m 42s
  2. 1m 11s
    1. Welcome
      1m 11s
  3. 32m 15s
    1. What is Adobe Bridge?
      2m 49s
    2. Getting photos from a camera
      4m 27s
    3. A tour of workspaces in Bridge
      5m 32s
    4. Customizing how thumbnails are displayed
      3m 44s
    5. Changing file names and batch renaming
      2m 58s
    6. Adding basic metadata with metadata templates
      5m 10s
    7. Creating and applying keywords to images
      4m 58s
    8. Viewing images in Full Screen Preview mode
      2m 37s
  4. 27m 1s
    1. Using Review mode to filter out rejected images
      4m 18s
    2. Saving images in collections
      4m 23s
    3. Rating and labeling images
      3m 46s
    4. Using the Filter panel to view different subsets
      4m 16s
    5. Using smart collections
      4m 18s
    6. Viewing final selects in a slideshow
      2m 21s
    7. Organizing groups of images into stacks
      3m 39s
  5. 32m 8s
    1. Comparing RAW and JPEG files
      6m 10s
    2. Starting in Camera Raw instead of Photoshop
      3m 12s
    3. Touring the Camera Raw interface
      9m 13s
    4. Previewing before and after adjustments
      3m 58s
    5. Toggling onscreen shadow and highlight clipping warnings
      3m 11s
    6. Choosing output settings
      3m 36s
    7. Saving a copy without going to Photoshop
      2m 48s
  6. 38m 37s
    1. Using the nondestructive Crop tool
      4m 42s
    2. Correcting a horizon line with the Straighten tool
      2m 41s
    3. Fixing color casts with the White Balance tool
      3m 50s
    4. Fixing blown-out highlights
      2m 56s
    5. Revealing hidden shadow details
      3m 7s
    6. Correcting lens distortion
      3m 25s
    7. Making perspective corrections to images
      2m 40s
    8. Removing color fringing and chromatic aberrations
      2m 28s
    9. Sharpening the details
      7m 45s
    10. Making an average photo great
      5m 3s
  7. 51m 2s
    1. Using the Graduated Filter tool
      6m 57s
    2. Making local adjustments with the Adjustments Brush
      10m 19s
    3. Retouching blemishes with the Spot Removal tool
      3m 41s
    4. Exploring a quick portrait retouching technique using Clarity
      4m 31s
    5. Converting to black and white
      2m 36s
    6. Editing images directly with the Targeted Adjustment tool
      3m 21s
    7. Creating selective color effects with the Adjustment Brush
      6m 5s
    8. Using sepia and split-tone effects
      3m 33s
    9. Adding digital film grain texture effects
      2m 20s
    10. Adding vignettes and border effects
      3m 59s
    11. Saving variations within a single file with the Snapshot command
      3m 40s
  8. 15m 13s
    1. Copying and pasting settings across files
      2m 4s
    2. Processing multiple files in Camera Raw
      3m 22s
    3. Saving and using the library of Camera Raw presets
      6m 48s
    4. Using Image Processor to batch process files
      2m 59s
  9. 30m 24s
    1. Opening files from Bridge
      2m 7s
    2. Opening files from Mini Bridge
      2m 51s
    3. Customizing the Mini Bridge panel
      3m 59s
    4. Using the Application frame
      3m 34s
    5. Managing panels
      5m 14s
    6. Switching and saving workspaces
      4m 39s
    7. Switching tools using the keyboard
      2m 47s
    8. Customizing the keyboard shortcuts
      5m 13s
  10. 10m 25s
    1. Working with tabbed documents
      1m 34s
    2. Arranging documents
      1m 52s
    3. Stopping Photoshop from tabbing documents
      1m 32s
    4. Panning and zooming
      3m 14s
    5. Cycling through different screen modes
      2m 13s
  11. 15m 44s
    1. Understanding file formats
      4m 36s
    2. Choosing the resolution you need
      4m 39s
    3. Understanding Resize vs. Resample
      4m 11s
    4. Working with print sizes and resolution
      2m 18s
  12. 32m 53s
    1. Using Undo and the History panel
      3m 7s
    2. Using crop options
      3m 54s
    3. Understanding Hide vs. Delete for the Crop tool
      1m 46s
    4. Bringing back hidden pixels with Reveal All
      40s
    5. Making the canvas bigger with the Crop tool
      3m 31s
    6. Making the canvas bigger using the Relative option in the Canvas Size command
      2m 18s
    7. Using the Perspective Crop tool
      1m 27s
    8. Straightening a crooked image
      2m 29s
    9. Scaling, skewing, and rotating with Free Transform
      5m 46s
    10. Making nondestructive transformations with Smart Objects
      2m 34s
    11. Warping images
      2m 48s
    12. Preserving important elements with Content-Aware Scale
      2m 33s
  13. 30m 41s
    1. Exploring layer basics
      11m 16s
    2. Loading, selecting, and transforming layers
      8m 4s
    3. Organizing layers using layer groups
      5m 3s
    4. Merging, rasterizing, and flattening layers
      6m 18s
  14. 43m 11s
    1. Using the Marquee and Lasso tools
      5m 43s
    2. Combining selections
      4m 4s
    3. Converting a selection into a layer mask
      5m 29s
    4. Using the Quick Selection tool
      4m 35s
    5. Selecting soft-edged objects using Refine Edge
      9m 42s
    6. Touching up a layer mask with the Brush tool
      7m 22s
    7. Changing the opacity, size, and hardness of the painting tools
      3m 17s
    8. Blending images with a gradient layer mask
      2m 59s
  15. 34m 36s
    1. Introducing adjustment layers
      3m 47s
    2. Starting with a preset
      2m 18s
    3. Improving tonal quality with Levels
      5m 31s
    4. Increasing midtone contrast with Curves
      6m 44s
    5. Removing a color cast with Auto Color
      2m 30s
    6. Changing the color temperature with Photo Filter
      2m 29s
    7. Shifting colors with Hue/Saturation
      4m 41s
    8. Making washed-out colors pop with Vibrance
      2m 48s
    9. Converting color to black and white
      1m 47s
    10. Controlling which layers are affected by an adjustment layer
      2m 1s
  16. 19m 33s
    1. Adjusting shadows and highlights
      5m 44s
    2. Replacing color using Selective Color
      3m 49s
    3. Using fill layers to create a hand-painted look
      6m 5s
    4. Using a gradient fill layer to add a color wash
      3m 55s
  17. 52m 9s
    1. Removing blemishes with the Spot Healing Brush and the Patch tool
      12m 42s
    2. De-emphasizing wrinkles with the Healing Brush
      4m 52s
    3. Smoothing skin and pores with the High Pass filter
      6m 19s
    4. Making teeth bright and white with a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer
      3m 21s
    5. Brightening eyes with Curves
      7m 0s
    6. Taming flyaway hair with the Patch tool
      3m 44s
    7. Removing unwanted details with Content-Aware Fill
      5m 49s
    8. Body sculpting with Liquify
      8m 22s
  18. 24m 12s
    1. Creating panoramas with Photomerge and Auto-Blend
      4m 48s
    2. Combining multiple frames in an action sequence
      8m 44s
    3. Swapping heads in a family portrait
      10m 40s
  19. 38m 26s
    1. Overview of filters
      2m 52s
    2. Applying filters nondestructively using Smart Filters
      5m 18s
    3. Creating a soft glow with the Gaussian Blur filter
      3m 35s
    4. Creating an infrared look with Diffuse Glow
      2m 14s
    5. Adding noise with the Add Noise filter
      6m 27s
    6. Sharpening an image with Unsharp Mask
      5m 11s
    7. Giving an image texture with the Texturizer filter
      1m 49s
    8. Using the Field, Iris, and Tilt-Shift Blurs
      6m 1s
    9. Creating a painting with the Oil Paint filter
      1m 34s
    10. Applying a filter to multiple layers
      3m 25s
  20. 22m 16s
    1. Cycling through the blending modes
      6m 42s
    2. Adding a lens flare effect with Screen
      2m 40s
    3. Scanning or photographing paper to add a deckled edge
      3m 1s
    4. Making a cast shadow more realistic with Multiply
      5m 21s
    5. Sharpening an image with High Pass and Overlay
      2m 26s
    6. Adding a realistic off-center vignette
      2m 6s
  21. 20m 9s
    1. Exploring character (point) type
      7m 6s
    2. Adding paragraph (area) type
      3m 38s
    3. Adding type on a path
      4m 44s
    4. Clipping an image inside type
      3m 3s
    5. Warping type
      1m 38s
  22. 15m 57s
    1. Adding a drop shadow effect
      6m 15s
    2. Adding edges, textures, and color overlays using layer styles
      4m 27s
    3. Creating a transparent logo or watermark
      2m 42s
    4. Knowing how and when to scale layer effects
      2m 33s
  23. 15m 45s
    1. Creating contact sheets
      2m 49s
    2. Using the Output workspace in Bridge
      5m 32s
    3. Exporting web photo galleries
      4m 20s
    4. Saving for the web
      3m 4s
  24. 23m 38s
    1. Working with video clips
      9m 29s
    2. Adding special effects to video
      5m 45s
    3. Adding pans and zooms to still images
      8m 24s
  25. 1m 10s
    1. Goodbye
      1m 10s

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