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Photoshop CS4 for Photographers is an essential course for any digital photographer who wants to master the software's vast array of image enhancement techniques. Professional photographer and instructor Chris Orwig uses his own compelling images to demonstrate how the power of Photoshop can make photographers more passionate about their work. He covers many aspects of the application, such as working with RAW images, using curves and levels, making images snap, and enhancing bland photographs by converting them to black and white. Exercise files accompany this course.
In this chapter, we are going to talk about one of the most important cornerstone features inside of Photoshop and that is Layers. We will be working from the Chapter 12 folder, Layers and the first part we will work on is layers.psd. Go ahead double click that file to open it up in Photoshop, F to go to Full Screen View mode, Spacebar and then click and drag to reposition the image. I want to focus in on the Layers palette but I can't see it because it's way down here. So I'll double click the title for Adjustments and double click the title for Color to collapse those panels.
All right, now I can focus in on the layers. Now in order to focusing on the layers even more, what I want to do here is Right-click or Ctrl-click and choose Large Thumbnails to increase the thumbnail size, so I can actually see the contents of the layers. Now you don't always want or do that, yet there are times when it's helpful, so you can actually see what's on a layered file. Now how the layers work? Well, one of the things you will notice is that the layer stacking order goes top to bottom, so whatever is on top, in this case, this layer covers what's underneath. You can reorder your layers by clicking and dragging. Now noticed that, that layer is underneath, well we can't see it because the clouds are covering it, click and drag to bring it up, now we can see it.
You will also notice, we have this Eye icon. That gives us ability to toggle on and off the visibility of the layer. So here I can turn this layer on, turn this one off, so on and so forth. All right, I can also do this, great shortcut. Press your mouse button and then click and drag and you can turn those on and off, click and drag and I'll turn it back on. Well, here is another cool tip for you. Let's say you just want to view one layer, you don't want to see all the other layers. Well, in this case, what you are going to do is press that Renegade shortcut key, the one that likes to do things a little bit differently. On a Mac that's Option, on a PC, that's the Alt key. Press that key and then click on the Eye icon, voila, it will turn off the visibility of all the other layers and just give the visibility of that layer.
Well now that we have this layer visible and it's targeted, we can see that with the brackets around the Layer icon. We will grab the Brush tool by pressing the B key, then let's click on the Color Picker and let's choose a color. In my case, I'm going to choose Blue here, that looks nice, click OK. If I go ahead and paint across the image, you will notice that I'm painting on the transparent pixels as well as on the graphic. Let's say, I just want to affect the graphic. Press Command+Z on a Mac, Ctrl+Z on a PC. Well I can lock down different aspects of the layer. In this case, I'll lock the transparent pixels and then now when I paint, all that I'm doing is just painting on the graphic, pretty cool.
Well, let's undo that. What are some of the other options? Well, I can lock down the image pixels, I can lock down the position or I can lock everything and you want to do that when you have adjusted a layer and you want to make sure you don't accidentally modify it. So again, that option is kind of nice. So let's go ahead and turn on the visibility of all those layers and then click Off the Lock Transparent Pixels and you know what, that wraps up our initial introduction to layers.
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