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As you get more comfortable working with layers, there are a few shortcuts that will help you to be more efficient. Let's begin by opening up the composite image, and then I will return back to bridge. I want to open these four images, and I want to add them to the composite, but I don't want to open each one individually. So instead I will choose tools, and then Photoshop and then load files into Photoshop layers. As you can see, Photoshop opened a single document, and it added all four of those documents, into the single document each as their own unique layer.
And in fact, it even named that layer, the name of the document. What it didn't do, however, was add it to the open document to the composite document so, we need to drag and drop the images into the composite layer. But, before we do that, I just want to point out where Photoshop drops images, when you drag and drop them. It's always going to drop the images right above the selected layer. So, watch what happens if I choose window, arrange, and then we select tile so that we can see both documents.
We'll switch over to the untitled document, select all of these layers and then drag and drop them. By dragging from the layers panel, and holding down the Shift key, in order to place them centered into the composite file. It doesn't appear as if they have landed in that file, but in fact if we go ahead and close this document, and we're not going to save changes, and we look at the layers panel in the composite image. It has dropped them right above that previously selected layer, which was the texture layer.
If I hide the trunks layer, we can see in fact, that all of those layers are there. So, it's often a good idea to know what layer is selected before you drag and drop. Now, we can always reorder the stacking order in the layers panel, so I'll select the trunks layer and just drag it down below the logo layer. Now, I don't need the logo layer right now, so I'll also drag that to the top to reposition it and I'll hide it by clicking the eye icon next to the layer. I'm going to want to transform all three of these square images, but I'm not sure how large I want them.
So, before I start transforming them, I'm going to convert each one of them into a smart object. I'll do that by right mouse-clicking, or on the mac, Ctrl+clicking. And then choosing convert to smart object. I want to do these individually, if I were to select all three layers at one time, and convert them to a smart object, it would actually group them in to a single smart object, and I don't want that, because I want to be able to align and distribute these individually. Now before we transform these let's take a look at some of the different ways that you can select layers.
Obviously I can select layers using the Layers panel, but sometimes it's much easier to select layers while you're in the Image area. The first way we can do this is by using the context-sensitive menus. Wherever I choose to Right Mouse click, or Ctrl+Click on Mac. Photoshop will show me any layers that appear underneath, where it is I clicked, and then I can quickly select a different layer. So, in this case, I can select the white trees, and we can see that on my layers panel, that layer has been selected.
If I choose to right mouse click over here, because I clicked over an area that just had two layers, the trunks and the texture, those are the only two layers that I have to select from. If I prefer, I can turn on the autoselect option which is accessible when I have the move tool. By default it's going to be set to group, but I can change that to layer. Now wherever I click on my image, for example, if I click right here, it would automatically select the trunks layer. Or if I click here, it would select the brown trees.
However, it's important to note that there are other layers underneath here that I'm not able to autoselect because their not visible. So that's the only drawback to using the autoselect. If you like auto select but you don't want it turned on all the time we can uncheck it here and then as long as you have to move tool selected if you hold down the command key and click you can go ahead and select any other layer that you click over. Now, one thing to notice right now, as you can see, all of these smart guides that are popping up.
So we'll talk about smart guides in just a moment. But that's what all of those dimensions and pink lines are showing us. So, I'll go ahead and hold down the Cmd key, and click here in the brown trees in order to select them. If I want to select multiple layers, in this case the white trees and the blue trees underneath, I'll use my context sensitive menu and I'll hold down the shift key. And you'll notice that on the layers panel, now the white tree is selected and the blue trees layer as well.
Now with all three of these layers selected, let's go ahead and transform them. I'll use cmd-t or ctrl-t on Windows. And I'll hold down the option key which will allow me to transform from the center and the shift key which will allow me to constrain the proportions. Then I'll reposition them by dragging them up here. I think they're a little bit too small, so I'll hold down the shift key and just make it a little bit larger. Now even though we only see the brown trees, because the white trees and the blue trees are underneath them, they're all being transformed because they're all selected.
I'll go ahead and tap return or enter in order to apply that transformation. There are many different ways that we can align and distribute layers. If I want to select only the brown threes I'll use that contact sensitive many here. and choose just brown threes. And then as I start reposition in them, you'll notice that those smart guides are going to help me in my alignment. So now, I know that I'm moving this horizontally. Or, if I move it down I can see that the center of those two layers are in alignment.
If I move it at a diagonal I can see that the base of these are in alignment. Or I can free form it down here so there's a little bit of a gap in between. But look at that, it's also showing me that it is now centered to the center of the larger canvas size. So I'm going to go ahead and release the mouse right there, and then I want to select the blue trees. So I'll right mouse click and then choose blue trees. And as I click and drag down the blue trees, not only does the smart guides help me keep this aligned, but when I have the equal distance, the equal spacing between the blue and the brown trees, and the brown and the white trees, its going to show me that its equal distance with those little double-headed arrows.
And its also going to give me the dimensions. It's showing me them in inches now but that's dependant on what your units and rulers are set to. So once those are equally spaced I'll go ahead and release the cursor. Now for some people the smart guides get to be a little bit too distracting sometimes. So let me go ahead and turn them off by choosing view and then show and then smart guides. And I'll show you another way to align and distribute layers.
In this case, I'm going to select the brown trees. I've got the command key held down, the control key on Windows, and I'll click over the brown trees to auto select them, and I'm just going to move this out of alignment from it. We'll just move it maybe like right up here. Now I'll go ahead and select all three of those layers in the layers panel and once I have more than two layers selected I can go ahead and distribute those layers so in this case I want to distribute the vertical centers.
And then I also want to align them on their horizontal centers. You can see that shifted them over a little bit, but since they're all selected all I need to do is, simply hold down the Shift key, and drag those over if I want to keep them in alignment. If I want to nudge these, I can use the arrow keys, To nudge the images left right up or down. And I can hold down the Shift key, and use the left and right arrows if I want to nudge them in larger increments. So, as you can see you can align and distribute using the controls with the move tool, or you can use the smart guides if that's easier.
Let's go ahead and do a Save As. I'm going to use a keyboard shortcut Cmd+Shift+S on Mac, or Ctrl+Shift+S on Windows. I'll go ahead and call this composite 01, saving it back to the original folder, I'll click Save. I'll maximize the compatibility, and, if we return back over to Bridge, we can see there's our new composite file.
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