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Photoshop CS4 Essential Training

Understanding layers


From:

Photoshop CS4 Essential Training

with Jan Kabili

Video: Understanding layers

Layers are the building blocks of a Photoshop file. Layers give you the flexibility to make changes to artwork that's isolated on its own layer without affecting the artwork on other layers. In this movie, I'll talk about what layers are and the benefits of making liberal use of layers in your Photoshop files. To visualize what layers are, you might think of several flat panes of glass. Imagine that you've put a bit of paint on each pane of glass and then you've stacked all the panes of glass one on top of the other. Where the panes at the top are transparent, you would be able to see down to what was on the glass below, but where there was paint on a pane of glass, you wouldn't be able to see through to it to the panes of glass below.
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  1. 2m 31s
    1. Welcome
      1m 27s
    2. Using the example files
      1m 4s
  2. 25m 14s
    1. Touring the interface
      4m 25s
    2. Working with tabbed documents
      5m 15s
    3. Using tools efficiently
      3m 51s
    4. Arranging panels
      3m 53s
    5. Customizing keyboard shortcuts
      2m 50s
    6. Saving a custom workspace
      3m 0s
    7. Changing screen modes
      2m 0s
  3. 19m 3s
    1. Touring the Bridge interface
      6m 31s
    2. Opening images from Bridge
      1m 20s
    3. Reviewing images
      4m 42s
    4. Finding images
      6m 30s
  4. 44m 53s
    1. Setting preferences
      4m 23s
    2. Choosing color settings
      8m 11s
    3. Zooming and panning
      5m 27s
    4. Resizing and image resolution
      3m 17s
    5. Adding to the canvas
      2m 2s
    6. Rotating the canvas
      1m 44s
    7. Choosing color
      4m 49s
    8. Sizing a brush tip
      3m 4s
    9. Undoing and the History panel
      5m 0s
    10. Saving and file formats
      3m 29s
    11. Creating a file from scratch
      3m 27s
  5. 37m 58s
    1. Making geometric selections
      6m 14s
    2. Modifying selections
      4m 43s
    3. Combining selections
      3m 16s
    4. Using the Quick Selection tool
      5m 34s
    5. Refining selection edges
      4m 12s
    6. Using Quick Mask mode
      2m 18s
    7. Selecting with the improved Color Range command
      4m 32s
    8. Selecting with the Magnetic Lasso tool
      2m 28s
    9. Using the Background Eraser tool
      3m 7s
    10. Saving selections
      1m 34s
  6. 39m 56s
    1. Understanding layers
      5m 43s
    2. Creating layers
      5m 12s
    3. Working in the Layers panel
      2m 19s
    4. Locking layers
      4m 17s
    5. Working with multiple layers
      4m 6s
    6. Merging and flattening layers
      3m 55s
    7. Adding a shape layer
      4m 43s
    8. Basic layer masking
      4m 23s
    9. Using layer blend modes and opacity
      5m 18s
  7. 23m 19s
    1. Cropping
      3m 26s
    2. Straightening
      3m 17s
    3. Transforming
      4m 42s
    4. Working with Smart Objects
      6m 48s
    5. Using Content-Aware Scaling
      5m 6s
  8. 1h 10m
    1. Reading histograms
      4m 21s
    2. Using adjustment layers and the Adjustment panel
      6m 4s
    3. Adjusting tones with Levels
      7m 49s
    4. Limiting adjustments with layer masks
      5m 40s
    5. Using masks in the new Masks panel
      6m 9s
    6. Limiting adjustments by clipping
      3m 6s
    7. Adjusting with Shadow/Highlight
      5m 7s
    8. Adjusting with Curves
      7m 37s
    9. Adjusting with Hue/Saturation
      3m 42s
    10. Adjusting with Vibrance
      2m 16s
    11. Removing a color cast
      4m 26s
    12. Using the Black & White adjustment layer
      2m 39s
    13. Using the Dodge Burn and Sponge tools
      4m 11s
    14. Reducing noise
      2m 39s
    15. Sharpening
      4m 42s
  9. 38m 0s
    1. Using the Spot Healing Brush tool
      5m 17s
    2. Using the Healing Brush tool
      5m 51s
    3. Using the Patch tool
      4m 52s
    4. Using the Clone Stamp tool
      4m 8s
    5. Enhancing eyes
      9m 29s
    6. Changing facial structure
      5m 0s
    7. Softening skin
      3m 23s
  10. 44m 38s
    1. What's a raw image?
      4m 25s
    2. Touring the Camera Raw interface
      7m 35s
    3. Working in the Basic panel
      7m 54s
    4. Working in the Tone Curve panel
      2m 21s
    5. Working in the HSL/Grayscale and Split Toning panels
      3m 46s
    6. Looking at the other Camera Raw panels
      3m 45s
    7. Using the Adjustment Brush tool
      4m 2s
    8. Using the Graduated Filter tool
      3m 56s
    9. Working with multiple files
      6m 54s
  11. 21m 6s
    1. Using the Brushes panel
      8m 30s
    2. Filling with color
      3m 49s
    3. Replacing color
      4m 14s
    4. Using gradients
      4m 33s
  12. 16m 55s
    1. Working with point type
      9m 59s
    2. Working with paragraph type
      3m 17s
    3. Warping text
      3m 39s
  13. 25m 23s
    1. Adding a layer style
      4m 6s
    2. Customizing a layer style
      3m 35s
    3. Copying a layer style
      3m 5s
    4. Creating a new style
      3m 32s
    5. Using Smart Filters
      5m 22s
    6. Working in the Filter Gallery
      5m 43s
  14. 13m 14s
    1. Auto-blending focus
      4m 47s
    2. Creating Photomerge panoramas
      4m 2s
    3. Combining group photos
      4m 25s
  15. 23m 27s
    1. Creating an action
      7m 16s
    2. Batch processing with an action
      6m 36s
    3. Using the Image Processor
      9m 35s
  16. 29m 20s
    1. Printing
      11m 32s
    2. Making a contact sheet from Bridge
      6m 12s
    3. Creating a web gallery from Bridge
      7m 17s
    4. Preparing photos for the web
      4m 19s
  17. 30s
    1. Goodbye
      30s

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Photoshop CS4 Essential Training
7h 55m Beginner Oct 13, 2008

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

Photoshop has become an indispensible tool for photographers, designers, and all other creative professionals, as well as students. Photoshop CS4 Essential Training teaches a broad spectrum of core skills that are common to many creative fields: working with layers and selections; adjusting, manipulating, and retouching photos; painting; adding text; automating; preparing files for output; and more. Instructor Jan Kabili demonstrates established techniques as well as those made possible by some of the new features unique to Photoshop CS4. This course is indispensable to those who are new to the application, just learning this version, or expanding their skills. Example files accompany the course.

Topics include:
  • Learning and customizing the interface and workspace
  • Utilizing various manual and guided selection techniques
  • Working with Adobe Camera Raw
  • Adding special effects with layer styles and Smart Filters
  • Creating Photomerge panoramas
  • Optimizing photos for the web and creating web galleries
Subject:
Photography
Software:
Photoshop
Author:
Jan Kabili

Understanding layers

Layers are the building blocks of a Photoshop file. Layers give you the flexibility to make changes to artwork that's isolated on its own layer without affecting the artwork on other layers. In this movie, I'll talk about what layers are and the benefits of making liberal use of layers in your Photoshop files. To visualize what layers are, you might think of several flat panes of glass. Imagine that you've put a bit of paint on each pane of glass and then you've stacked all the panes of glass one on top of the other. Where the panes at the top are transparent, you would be able to see down to what was on the glass below, but where there was paint on a pane of glass, you wouldn't be able to see through to it to the panes of glass below.

Layers work just like that. Also in this analogy, if you took one of those panes of glass and change the painting on it, but not on the others, it wouldn't directly affect what was on all the other panes of glass and the same is true of layers. You see what I mean, as we look through this layered file in Photoshop. Make sure that your Layers panel is open. If it's not, go to the Window menu at the top of the screen and choose Layers. If you would like your icons in your Layers panel to be big like mine are here, then you can go to the Layers panel menu right here and choose Panel Options.

In the Panel Options dialog, I selected the large thumbnail here and I also selected Layer Bounds so that each thumbnail only shows me what's on a particular layer, not the entire document and I will click OK. So let's take a look at what is on the individual layers in this file. This is what I do actually whenever I open a file that I get from someone else so that I can deconstruct what's on each layer. Each of the bars in the Layers panel represents a layer in the document and you'll notice to the left of each layer bar is an Eye icon. If you click on the Eye icon next to a layer, it turns off temporarily the content of that layer.

So the best way to go about de- constructing a Photoshop file is to make each layer temporarily invisible as you keep your eye on the document. In that way, you can see what's on each layer. So here I can see that only the NO.5 text is on the logo layer. If I move down to the cup layer, the only thing that seems to be there is the cup. On the tin layer, I have got not only this tin, but also that glow behind it and the text that's on the tin and down to the design layer, which is the pattern on the background and finally, the Background layer.

When I turn the Background layer on and off you can see that it is fully covered with brown paint, but that when it's off, there is a grey and white checkerboard. That gray and white checkerboard represents transparency in Photoshop. So that means that at the bottom of this stack of layers, there is nothing. There is just transparency. I will turn that Background layer back on. By the way, if you wanted to see just what was on a particular layer, another way to go about that is to hold down your Option key on a Mac or your Alt key on a PC, as you click on one of these Eye icons. So if I do that on the tin layer, everything else turns off temporarily so I can see just what's on the tin layer.

That's also a useful technique when you are trying to understand what's on the layers in a file. I will turn the other layers back on by Option or Alt clicking again on the Eye icon. The most important thing to know about layers is that you have to select a layer before you can do something to the artwork on that layer. For example, let's say that I wanted to take the tin and move it over a little. I would have to select the layer on which the tin lives, which is this layer right here, before I could move its content. So I am going to click on the tin layer and I am careful to just click in the blank empty space and that selects the layer.

It turns blue as a visual cue that this is a selected layer. Now I could come in, for example, and get my Move tool and if I click-and-drag anywhere in the image, all of the content of that layer moves. I am going to press Command+Z, that's Ctrl+Z on a PC to put that tin right back where it was before I moved it. There is another way to select layers and that's the Auto-Select feature. That's an option in the Options bar when you have the Move tool selected. You will see it right here. It says Auto-Select. Sometimes this comes in handy because what it allows you to do is this.

With Auto-Select checked, if I come into the image and I click on an object, say this cup, keep your eye on the Layers panel and you will see that the cup lives on is automatically selected and now I could do whatever I wanted to this layer. Or say I wanted to work on the tin then I would click on the tin and that would become automatically selected. Two things about the Auto-Select feature. The first is I strongly urge you to turn it off when you are not using it, because if you leave it checked you could be surprised. For example, if I were working on this tin and I just happened to move my mouse up here and click, that would automatically take me to another layer and that can be a surprise and not always very helpful.

So I do turn off Auto- Select when I am done with it. Another thing about Auto-Select is this. You need to understand how it works if you have content in the same place on several different layers. For example, if I go right here on top of the No. 5, I have content on lots of layers here. I have content on the logo layer, on the cup layer, maybe on the design layer right here, as well as on thebackground layer. So if I click right here, Photoshop automatically selects the top layer on which there is content right under my cursor, in this case the logo layer.

But what if I really wanted to select something beneath that? Then I would hold down the Ctrl key on a Mac or right-click on a PC and click and that would give me a small menu that listed all the layers that have content at that particular point. So if I was really after the background layer I could click on that and it would select the background layer in the Layers panel. So I do want to stress that the real benefit of using layers is that you can isolate separate pieces of artwork from the rest of the file and that means that you have a lot more flexibility and creative freedom to work with one part of your document without directly impacting the rest of the file.

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about Photoshop CS4 Essential Training.


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Q: How can artwork be transferred from Photoshop CS4 to Illustrator CS4 without the background?
A: Save the image in Photoshop’s native PSD format. The background in Photoshop must be transparent, meaning there should be no background layer. (To remove a background layer, move your artwork to a separate layer by selecting and copying the content, minus the background, to a new layer, and then delete the background layer. A checkboard pattern behind your image indicates transparent pixels.) 
 


In Illustrator, select File > Open, and select the PSD file. In Photoshop Import dialog box, select Convert Layers to Objects.

Q: How do I retouch an image I have of an old photograph I scanned?
A: There are a few courses that address image restoration. Check out the Photoshop CS4 Portrait Retouching Essential Training course, and for problems dealing specifically with old photographs, watch the Restoration movies in chapter 15 of the Enhancing Digital Photography with Photoshop CS2. Additionally, learn how to research and date photos with our Growing and Sharing Your Family Tree course.
Q: A client has asked for artwork to be delivered as JPEGs or BMP files in 16-bit format. In Photoshop CS4, there does not appear to be an option to save an image as a 16-bit JPEG. Is there a way to save JPEG files as 16-bit in Photoshop?
A: Unfortunately, JPEGs cannot be saved in 16 bit. JPEGs, by nature, are 8-bit. So if you open a high-bit image into Photoshop CS4, you will see no option in any of the save dialog boxes to save the file as a JPEG. You would first have to convert the image to 8 bit (by choosing Image > Mode > 8 bits/channel) and then save it as an 8-bit JPEG. If you open a high-bit image into Photoshop CS5, you will see the option to save it as a JPEG in the Save, Save As, and Save for Web dialog boxes.  But the JPEG will not be saved as 16-bit. Instead, Photoshop will downsample it to 8-bit for you  before saving it as JPEG.
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