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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.
I've saved my progress as New background .psd found inside the 10_layers folder. Speaking of the background, I want to make something clear. Notice that my background is filled with white, which just so happens to match my background color. That's the way it always is. Whenever you make a new background, it is filled with the background color. So for example, I'll press Control+Alt+ Z or Command+Option+Z on the Mac to undo the creation of that background. Then I'll press the X key, in order to swap the foreground and background color, so the background is now black. Then, I'll go up to the Layer menu, choose New, and choose Background From Layer and we end up getting a new black background.
Now if you don't like that, you want a white background instead, doesn't matter what color you got in the first place but you want white. Then you press the D key in order to establish your default colors including white as your background color, and then you press Ctrl+Backspace or Command+Delete to fill that background with white. In this exercise, I'm going to demonstrate a phenomenon inside of Photoshop known as Big Layer. That's what it's called. All it means is that any layer except the Background which is in a layer, any layer can be much larger than the physical canvas that is the width and height of the composition.
Now let me show you how you figure that out. For example, this martini glass right here is cropped off at the bottom and at the top, so that makes me think there is more martini glass to go. I can check that by grabbing my Move Tool, and switching to the glass layer of course, make sure that's active, and then dragging it around and sure enough, there is lots more martini glass, I wonder how much. So I'll press Control+Z, Command+Z on the Mac to undo that movement. Then, I'll right-click in this empty area below Background here inside the Layers panel, and choose Clip Thumbnails to Layer Bounds.
If you can't see that by the way, if you don't have any blank area down here, go to the panels fly-out menu and choose panel Options, and then inside this dialog box, select Layer Bounds and click OK. Now notice what happened, we both increased and decreased the size of this thumbnail. Decreased it widthwise, because we're no longer seeing the glass in the context of the larger composition, and increased it height wise to reveal all of the martini glass. So I've got a lot of glass extending downward.
Now what if I decide I don't want all that glass, because after all, if you look down here at the Doc values, and if you can't see them, click the right pointing arrowhead and choose Doc Sizes like so. Notice that my flat version of the image would take up 5.4 Megabytes of RAM, but with Layers it takes up 20.6 Megabytes. Well, I bet, I could shave off a few of those megabytes, and some of the file sizes well on disk, if I got rid of some of the glass that I didn't need. I've already got this image backed up. I have another copy of it elsewhere.
So, I could always bring it back in if I need it. So how do I get to the glass? Here becomes the puzzle. How do I get to the base? Which let's say that's what I want to delete. I want to throw that away. How do I get to that base? Yet not move the glass, because I don't want to mess up its position. It's exactly where I want it to be. I also don't want to mess up the size and proportions and everything else associate with my canvas. Well, you can go up to the Image menu and choose Reveal All, which expands the canvas to include every single pixel and every single layer in your composition.
But if I do that right now, how do I get back? Well, you need to create something of a breadcrumb trail. You can do that using guidelines. And let me demonstrate how that works, because this is a pretty common scenario that you'll run into as you create more elaborate layered compositions inside Photoshop. So I'm assuming that you can see the guidelines. If not, press Control+Semi-colon or Command+Semi-colon on the Mac, and then press Control+R or Command+R to bring up the rulers, and I want you to drag out four guidelines, one for each edge of the document.
You should snap into alignment with the Document Bounds, just like you see me doing. I'm going to press F7 in order to get rid of the Layers panel for a moment. So F7 both shows and hides that panel. Now I have a guideline for each edge of my canvas. Now I can press Control+R or Command+R on the Mac in order to hide the rulers. I'll go up to the Image menu and I'll choose Reveal All. Photoshop goes ahead and grows this image to mammoth proportions. I'm going to go ahead and zoom out here, so that I can take in the entire composition. Notice now it's grown.
Down here, you can see the Doc dimensions are now 23 Megabytes flat and 23.1 Megabytes with a layer. I'll press F7 in order to show the Layers panel once again. I'll get my Marquee Tool, and I'll drag along the bottom of this glass like so, because I know, I don't need any of this junk. I do need the stem, because I'm going to create some duplicates of the glass, but I don't need the very base. In fact, I can probably crop a little more than that, about that much there. And, because the glass layer is selected, I can just press the Backspace key or the Delete key to get rid of the contents of that selection.
Notice that the size of the Layered Composition dropped to 19.1 megabytes. In other words, I just got rid of 4 megabytes worth of imagery, which means I'm going to save a lot of room on disk as well. Alright, now I want to return to the former document boundaries. Thankfully, I mark them using guidelines. So I'll go ahead and zoom in a little bit here, and I'll click outside my selection to deselect it. I'll grab my Crop Tool, which you can get by pressing the C key of course. I'll drag from here to here, like so, so I want to make sure that I keep all the goodness inside of this image.
Then if you need to test that you've absolutely snapped into alignment with those guidelines, because that's very important here. Then go up to the Options bar, and make sure that Cropped Area is set to Hide. If you click on Delete, you're going to crop the contents of all of your layers to the canvas size. But if you select Hide, you're going to preserve your big layer content. Alright, so having done that, I'll press the Enter key or the Return key on the Mac. In order to complete that crop, I'll zoom in, and just to confirm that I have exactly the right canvas size, I'll go to the Image menu and I'll choose Canvas Size or press Control+Alt+C, Command+Option+C on the Mac.
It should be 2360 x 800, it is. That's the four exercise of the graphic, because ultimately I'm going to shrink it down when I'm done with this graphic. I'll go ahead and fuse the layers and merge it down to 590 pixels wide by 200 pixels tall. So that's exactly right. Cancel out, I am done. That my friends, is how you work what big layers inside of Photoshop.
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