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As you get more comfortable working with layers, there are some shortcuts that you can use to open multiple layers at one time into the same image. So let's scoot over to Bridge by choosing File>Browse in Bridge and I want to select all four of these images. Instead of just opening them each as individual documents and then having to drag-and-drop them into the composite that we've already started, I'm going to choose Tools>Photoshop and then I'm going to load these files into Photoshop layers.
Now it's not going to add them into the opened document, but at least I have all four of these layers now in a single document so that I can quickly show both documents by tiling them. And then on the Layers panel instead of dragging each one individually I will select all of the layers by selecting the first layer, holding down the Shift key and selecting the bottommost layer, and then dragging and dropping those on top of my composite image. I'll hold down the Shift key before I release the mouse so that they will be centered.
Then, I no longer need this layer so we can close it. You can see how much quicker that was than opening each one individually and dragging-and-dropping them. Now if we look at our Layers palette, let's take a look at what just happened. We dropped in those four layers and they appeared right here in the layers stack, the reason that they appeared there was because I had the water layer targeted and whenever you drag-and-drop layers from one document to another they will always drop right above the targeted layer or the selected layer.
If I want to reposition these, all I need to do while they're still all selected is click-and-drag them above the Cloud layer. Let's go ahead and select the Logo.psd layer and I am going to drag that at the very top and just hide its visibility for now. One of the things that you might have noticed is that all of these layers came in already named and they are named the same name as the file name. If it bothers you, you could double-click on any of the names to remove that .JPG extension, but I actually don't mind it at all because it tells me exactly which file I opened from Bridge.
Now I want to transform these images that I just brought in, the Delta image, and the Ice and the Sand image. But I am not sure again how large I want them. So I want to convert them into smart objects. We can select the menu by going to Layer>Smart Objects and then Convert to Smart Object, but it's a lot faster if you simply right-mouse click on the layer. You don't have to target the layer just right-mouse click on it and then choose Convert to Smart Object. If you don't have a two button mouse, there will be the Ctrl key and choose Convert to Smart Object.
So now all three layers are smart objects, and they are all sitting right on top of each other, right? If I hide the visibility, we can see the Sand layer, and the Ice layer, and the Delta layer. Now certainly, I could select one of these layers and use Free Transform in order to make it smaller. But since I know I want all three layers to be transformed, why not select them all? So I'll hold down the Command key and choose Ice and Sand, and then use Cmd+ or Ctrl+T for free transform. I will hold down the Option and the Shift key to make them smaller and then tap the Enter key or the Return key in order to apply that transformation.
Now most people spend a lot of time selecting their layers on the Layers panel. But you can imagine if you had say a hundred layers in your image you are going to have to sit and scroll through the Layers panel in order to find the layer that you want, so there are some quicker ways and some shortcuts that we can use to select our layers. First of all we could use our context- sensitive menus so we could right mouse click anywhere in the image and wherever we click Photoshop will tell us the name of the layers that appear below the area that we clicked.
So I could go to Cloud or I could go to my Water layer here, I also have the option to link my layers, but I don't want to do that. Watch what happens if I click over here. I get just the Water layer and if I click right here now I have the option to choose the Delta layer, the Ice or the Sand. So I will select in the Sand layer and you can see on my Layers panel no longer are all three layers selected, only the Sand layer is selected. Now this is where it gets confusing when you are just learning Photoshop because I can see the Delta layer, but if I click here and reposition it, it's not going to move that Delta layer.
It's going to move the Sand layer because that's the layer that's selected in my Layers panel. Now another way that we could quickly select our layers is to have the Move tool selected and then turn on Auto-Select. Now by default it's going to Auto select a group but we can change that so that it auto selects a layer. Now no matter what layer I click on, Photoshop will automatically select that layer. So it's selected the Cloud layer, or the Water layer, or the Delta layer. The only thing that's difficult in this case is if there is a layer directly under the Delta layer, for example that Ice layer if I wanted to target that then I would need to use the context- sensitive menus or right mouse click.
But otherwise this is a great way to quickly move around your image and as long as the layer is visible, Photoshop can auto-select it for you. So I will just reposition this one over here, and let's take a look at one other shortcut because some people don't like to have Auto-Select layer turned on all the time. We can toggle that off and as long as we have that Move tool selected, we can temporarily toggle the Auto-Select functionality by holding down the Cmd key and then clicking on an image.
As soon as I let go with the Cmd key or the Ctrl key on Windows, then I toggle off that functionality. But now I've got the Ice layer selected so we could scoot it over here. Now I would like to have all three of these layers actually be aligned and evenly distributed, and there is a number of ways you can do that. One of the ways you could do it would be to turn on the View menu, come down to Show and turn on your Smart Guides, but this really only works if all of your layers are of the same size.
You can see now as I start repositioning my layer in the image, Photoshop tries to draw the guides to tell me when my images are aligned. So that's one way to do it. If you prefer to leave your Smart Guides off, which I'll turn off by simply selecting the option again, then we can use the Alignment and Distribution options with a Move tool. Right now they're all grayed out because I only have one layer selected, but if I select all three of these layers, now not only can I align them, I can also distribute them.
So let's align them all along the left side and then we will evenly distribute them based on their centers. So now I have an even space in between them and they're all aligned along the left. At this point since we've done a number of things to our image, I am going to go ahead and do a quick File. I will do a Save As, so that I can save this as a separate image from the last one and we'll just call it WindowSeat01. I'll save it to my layers folder as a Photoshop document with layers and click Save.
I will click OK to maximize the compatibility. What this does is, it saves not only the layered document but inside that layered document it saves like a flattened version of the document so that if you were to place this image into say a non-Adobe application and if that application didn't understand layers at least it could use that flattened version that's inside the same file in order to show you a preview. So I like to keep this turned on.
You also need to have this turned on if you're using Lightroom and you want Lightroom to show you, your Photoshop documents.
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