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Photoshop is the world’s most powerful image editor, and it’s arguably the most complex, as well. Fortunately, nobody knows the program like award-winning book and video author Deke McClelland. Join Deke as he explores such indispensable Photoshop features as resolution, cropping, color correction, retouching, and layers. Gain expertise with real-world projects that make sense. Exercise files accompany the course.
Download Deke's free dekeKeys and color settings from the Exercise Files tab.
Let's start things off by opening a couple of images that are found inside the 10_layers folder. The first one is called Base layers.psd and this is the beginning point for our project, and the other one is Martini Hour banner.psd and this is the final composition that we're going to create over the course of this chapter. Now, something you should know about these two images as well as most of the other ones inside the 10_layers folder is that they use an Adobe font called Rotis Semi Sans, and unless you have that font which is unlikely, you're going to see this warning right here, that will tell you; Some text layers contain fonts that are missing.
Don't worry about it, just click OK, but let me show you what's going on here. I'll press Shift+Tab in order to bring up my right-side panels including the Layers panel. If you don't see it, you can go to the Window menu and choose the Layers Command, or press the F7 key. And keep that keyboard shortcut in mind. We're going to be using it a lot in this chapter. And right there at the top of the Layers panel, our two text layers both of which are unhappy there, these little caution icons. And those are the layers that are using Rotis Semi Sans, but while it means you can't edit the layers, and you can't scale them neither of which I'm going to be asking you to do.
You can still see them just fine. They will look great on your computer because Photoshop goes ahead and automatically stores a pixel definition of those type layers. So any composition is going to look good on any machine. It's basically the idea as long as you've got Photoshop of course. This is a very wide image that we're working on here. It's a banner for this audio-only podcast that I do call Martini Hour. I usually work big like this and then down sample for the web banners. So, this image is four times as large as it will ultimately appear on my website.
But here's the deal because it's so very wide, I need to rearrange my interface a little bit. So, I'm going to take the Layers panel by itself, I'm just going to drag the Layers tab and drop it here inside in the empty portion of the Image window. And then I'm going to drag it up. Notice that I can move it on top of the Options bar if I want to, and I'll scale it down too, I'll make it nice and tall so that I can see as many layers as possible, make it wider too so that I'm not truncating those layer names. Then let's go ahead and move this out away for a moment. I'm going to grab the Adjustment and Masks panels and move them back into the right-hand stack here like so.
What that's going to do on my machine is it's going to go ahead and collapse the Channels and Paths panel down there, but that's not really anything to worry about. We can always bring it back later if we need them. But that allow me easy access to the Adjustments panel as we'll see. I'm going to go ahead and press Shift+Tab to get rid of those guys. Now everybody goes away including the Layers panel which is why I now need to press F7 to bring it back and now I'll just kind of move it over here so that's hovering above things. So now, a few words about layers, what's going on with them? Many compositions but not all have this thing called a Background.
Technically, that's not a layer. What that is, is just a flat image that's sitting behind everything else, you can't move it, and it's in utter and completely opaque rectangle, that's at the base of the entire layered composition. Anybody else could be any shape they want, they can have transparency and translucency and layer masks and all the advantages of floating independent layers. So, this final version of the composition happens to be a background along with 15 other layers on top of it.
And I'll show you how I made it of course over the course of this chapter. So, let's go ahead and switch back to Base layers.psd. And we're only going to be working with one actual photographic image, and that's this Martini glass right there that comes to us from gunnar3000 of the Fotolia image library about which you can learn more at fotolia.com/deke. Notice if I move the Layers panel over here for a moment, notice that we have this checkerboard pattern over on right -hand side, that is the transparency grid.
And by default, it's white and light gray like this which is not my favorite combo because white is a very common color inside of Layered Compositions particularly if you're working on print graphics, because presumably you're printing your images against the white background. So, I find this to be a little deceiving sometimes, also I like to have a little bit of extra behind my layers, so I can really see what's going on there. So, it's always going to be a checkerboard but you can change the colors or luminance levels of those checks if you like. And you do that by pressing Control+K or Command+K on the Mac in order to bring up the Preferences dialog box.
And then you switch over here to Transparency & Gamut and there are your guys. You can switch between Light, and Medium, and Dark if you want to. And Medium it tends to be a good place to start sometimes, but here is what I'm going to do. I'm going to leave this lighter square the color it is, and I'm going to go ahead and click on the white one in order to bring up the Color Picker dialog box. And I'm going to change this Brightness value right here to something like 70, or you could go lower than that, you can go to 65 let's say.
But I don't want too much contrast between my checks. So, I'm going to go with 70, click OK. That way it's non-intrusive, it's just sitting there in the background. I can tell it's the transparency grid, I know what's going on, click OK. And what that means of course just in case you're unclear is that this area of the layer doesn't have any pixels. It is transparent and we're seeing through to utter and complete nothing is because this is the lowest layer inside the composition and the only one that's visible right now.
Now, let's say what we want to do is we want to add a background, because this image currently lacks one. You don't have to have a background with your layered compositions. But if you want one for whatever reason and sometimes it's helpful to have a background just to establish a composition so you can tell what's going on, or so that you have something to blend into if you're going to be using Blend modes. I'm going to go ahead and add a background layer, and it's kind of a weird process frankly. To add a new blank layer inside a Photoshop you go up here to the fly-out menu icon, click on it and choose New Layer or better yet, press Control+Shift+N, Command+Shift+N on the Mac, and that will allow you to name your new layer if you want to.
I'm just going to say OK, because I don't care what its name is because Photoshop is going to overwrite that in just a second. Another way to make a new layer by the way, I'll go ahead and press Control+Z, Command+Z on the Mac. You've got this little Page icon down here at the bottom of the panel, and if you click on it then you bypass the dialog box. You have to Alt+Click or Option+Click on it to force the display of the dialog box, but if you just click, you bypass the dialog box and Photoshop automatically names a layer for you. The next step is to go to the Layer menu, choose New, and then choose Background From Layer.
So in other words you can't just make a background layer, you have to go through these two steps to do it which is weird but anyway, now we have a new background and we have something to blend against which is something that we'll do in a future exercise. In the next exercise, I'm going to show you how layers can be bigger than the overall composition.
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