Ready to watch this entire course?
Become a member and get unlimited access to the entire skills library of over 4,900 courses, including more Photography and personalized recommendations.Start Your Free Trial Now
- View Offline
- Arranging the panels and interface
- Cropping and resizing photos
- Creating new layers
- Refining selections
- Hiding content with a layer mask
- Using adjustment layers
- Correcting color, lighting, and contrast
- Converting a color photo to black and white
- Creating a panorama from multiple photos
- Retouching blemishes and wrinkles
- Making adjustments in Camera Raw
Skill Level Beginner
There are a number of ways to create a new layer. You use different methods depending on the effect that you're going for. Let's say you want a new blank layer on which to add some paint with the Brush tool, or to fill with color using the Fill Command. To make a new pixel-based layer like that, I'll first go to the Layers Panel. And I'll select the layer above which I want my new layer. Then I'll go up to the top of the Layers Panel, and I click the Create New Layer icon. And that makes a new layer, in this case above the hands layer that I had selected. The new layer is blank.
I'm going to add some paint to that new layer by making sure the new layer is selected in the Layers Panel. And then I'm going to go to the Edit Menu, and I'm going to go down to Fill Layer, a command that you'll use a lot. That opens the Fill Layer dialog box. I'll go to the Use menu, and here I have a number of options for the color that Elements will use to fill this entire new layer. Either whatever color happens to be in the Foreground color chip in my Toolbar; or whatever colors in the Background color chip; or if I choose color, I can select a color from the Color Picker that opens.
Or I can go down and choose black, gray, or white. I'm going to choose white in this case. And I'll click Ok. That's filled the new layer with white, so that we can no longer see the photo on the hands layer below. I like to give my layers meaningful names, because as the number of layers in the Panel grows, it's easier to find layers if I've named them correctly. So I'm going to double-click the default layer name Layer 1, and I'll type white instead, and press Enter or Return on my keyboard. I'd like to blend the white paint on this layer in with the photo of the hands on the layer below.
One way to do that is just to lower the opacity of the white layer. To do that, I'll go up to the Opacity field at the top of the Layers Panel. I'm going to move my cursor over the Opacity label. And when I do, the cursor changes to a finger with a double pointed arrow. And that means that I can click and drag on the label, dragging to the left to lower Opacity, or to the right to increase Opacity. I'm going to go to the left and lower the Opacity until I can just see kind of a dim image of the hands beneath the white paint.
And that gives me a nice background for my other photos. So that's one way to make a new layer using the Create New Layer icon. Another way to make a new layer is to copy some content from an existing layer. So, I'd like to make a small photo from part of the hands layer. To do that, I'll click on the hands layer, and then I'm going to make a selection. Now, we're going to talk about selections in more detail in the next chapter. So, for now I'll just keep it simple. I will go over to the toolbar, and I'm going to select the Selection tool-- the rectangular Marquee Selection tool-- which allows you to make rectangular selections.
Then I'll move into the image, and I'll click and drag the rectangular selection that includes the ring. Then with the hands layer selected, I'll go up to the Layer Menu at the top of the screen, which is a great place to look for Commands related to Layers. I'll go to the New Category and over to Layer Via Copy. That does a couple of things. It makes a brand-new layer in the Layers Panel called Layer 1. And it's copied just that selection from the hands layer, and placed the copied selection on Layer 1. We can't see that right now, because for one thing, Layer 1 is underneath the white layer.
So I'll click and drag Layer 1 above the white layer. And now we can see that selection on Layer 1. It's darker than the rest of the hands, because Layer 1 is above the white layer that's dimming out the rest of the hands photo. I'll give my new layer a more meaningful name by double-clicking the Layer 1 default name. And I'll click ring instead, and press Enter or Return of the keyboard. One more way to make a new layer is just to duplicate an existing layer. So, if I select the rose layer for example, and then I right-click on that layer, I can choose Duplicate Layer from the Contextual menu that appears.
I'll select that and I'll click Ok. And that makes a new layer called rose copy. Now, right now in the image you only see one rose photo. That's because the copy photo is right on top of the original rose photo. So with the rose copy layer selected, I'm then get my move tool in the Toolbar. And then I'll come in and click on the rose layer and drag. And now, you can see that there are two photos of the rose. Now, what if I want to delete a layer? For example, I really don't want to have two photos of a rose here. One way to delete a layer is to drag it up on top of the Trash Can at the top of the Layers panel.
So, I'm going to click on the rose copy layer, and drag and release my mouse on top of the Trash Can. And that eliminates the rose copy layer. If I change my mind, I can bring it back by using the Undo button in the taskbar at the bottom of the workspace; or I could use the History panel to back up until I have my rose copy layer back again. I want to show you one more way to create a new layer, and that is to drag a layer in from another file. I have another file open here. I'll click on its Document Tab so you can see it-- and notice that this photo has just one layer.
If it had multiple layers, I'd select the layer or layers that I want to bring into the composite that I'm building. I'll get my Move tool, and I'll click on the content of this layer in the second photo. And then I'm going to go up, and hover over the Document Tab for the first photo, the composite I'm building. Now sometimes you have to stay there for a second with your mouse held down until the photos switch our in your document window. And then with the mouse still held down--I haven't released it yet-- I'll move down into this image. And when I see a border around the image, I'll release my mouse.
And that gives me a copy of the other photo here in the composite that I'm building. And if you look at the Layers panel, you'll see that there's a brand new automatically made layer, layer 1. I'll give layer 1 a meaningful name by double-clicking it, and I'll type wedding cake, and press Enter or Return. When you bring in a new layer like this, it often isn't the right size. If it's too small, you don't want to expand it very much. But, if it's too big, you can make it smaller. With the Move tool selected; and the Show Bounding Box option checked in the Move Tool Options Bar, I'll come into the image and I'll move my mouse over one of the corner anchor points.
And I'll just drag toward the center of this wedding cake photo to make it smaller. And you'll notice that it's becoming smaller proportionally, so the photo isn't distorted. If you look down in the Options Bar, you'll see that I now have options for the Transform function, and that Constrain Proportions is checked there by default. So, that is keeping the image proportional. And when have it the way I want it, I'll release my mouse, and I'll check the green checkmark that appears to commit that transform. Then with the Move tool, I can click inside the Bounding Box, and move that small photo wherever I wanted in my composite.
And then I'll click on another layer, so you can see the result. So there are several ways that you can create a new layer depending on the effect that you're looking for.