Join Chad Perkins for an in-depth discussion in this video Working with layers, part of Up and Running with Photoshop CS6.
- View Offline
When I use Photoshop I spend the bulk of my time in the Layers panel and that is because layers are really at the heart of any good workflow in Photoshop. So let's take a look a little bit at what layers are, what they do, and why they're so crucial to working effectively in Photoshop. I have here this layers test.psd image open and I also have the interface guide Layer.psd file open as well, we'll get to that one in just a second. But I have here this Background layer and that's all that's showing here I just have one layer, and with that selected I'm going to choose a Paint Brush here.
Actually the paint brush, the Brush tool. Then I'm going to click on the foreground color swatch, to open the Adobe Color Picker. And to select a color with the Color Picker, I first want to pick a hue. So basically a color family. I do that with this vertical slider here. I'm just going to pick some vibrant green. And then once I pick a hue I need to come over here and pick the exact tint and shade of what I am looking for. So, if I go to the left I'm going to get more desaturated colors.
So all of the colors on the left edge are gray and all the colors on the right edge are very vibrant. If I go up, I'm going to be brightening the colors. If I go down, I'm going to be darkening the colors. So if I want a color that's super bright and vibrant, I'm going to click and drag into the upper right-hand corner. And you don't have to click and drag, you actually can click anywhere you want. So if I click in the upper right-hand corner, get a vibrant green, click OK, and then start painting a little bit. Now you'll notice as I have this little thumbnail here, it gives me a preview of what's on my layer. And I still have just one layer. Now what if I want to move that paint stroke? What if I want to recolor it? Well because it's on this one layer, I'm really stuck, I can't really do anything without a lot of extra effort.
So the solution is to put this on a separate layer. So, in actually in order to do that you need to back up. Go to the Edit menu and choose Undo brush tool. I can also choose Cmd+Z or Ctrl+Z or step backward in order to undo this. So now I'm going to do this the right way by going down to the bottom of the Layers panel and do something that you will do all the time in Photo Shop, over and over again. The bottom of the Layers panel there is this little icon which is a little page with a, the corner flap turning up. So click that icon and this creates a new blank layer. Now we have these little eye icons next to the layers. In order to turn off the layers visibility, just click the eye icon kind of poke it in the eye there and that turns it off and now all we're seeing here is this gray and white checkerboard.
Now this gray and white checkerboard really isn't anything, It's Photoshop's way of telling you there's nothing here. So whenever you see that grey and white checkerboard, unless you've somehow created this grey and white checkerboard yourself. it basically is Photoshop way of telling you that this is completely empty. So I'm going to turn back on the Background layer. And you'll notice that I click one layer, it highlights. And that means that that is the selected layer, and this is extremely important to be aware of that we have the correct layer selected. So if I select layer one, and making sure that I have my brush tool selected and my green foreground color, because the brush tool will use the foreground color as its ink.
Now I can go and scrub. And now because there are two separate layers I have all kinds of power. I can click this thing in the eye and turns visibility off and on. I could also go up to our Move tool and move this around seperately from the black and it just gives me so much more power and flexibility down the road. If I decide that I don't like this layer, I can drag it to the trash can and, all kinds of stuff. I'm actually going to hit Cmd+Z, or Ctrl+Z on the PC, to undo that. Let's go ahead and make another layer, let's I'm going to go down to the bottom of the Layers panel, click this icon again, make another new layer.
Let's go ahead and change the color, the foreground color, and I'm going to choose, I don't know, some kind of cool purple, I guess. Click OK. Go back to my brush tool, select that, and now, I'll paint something this way. Actually, I'm going to cover up the green fairly good here so you can tell one is overlapping the other. And now, we have two layers. And because, again, they are on separate layers, we can turn on and off the visibility of the purple stroke or on and off the visibility of the green stroke. And also, here's another trick, we can click and drag one layer to be underneath another layer.
Now, once I get it into position, you'll see that this divider line highlights. So right now it's not highlighted. Photoshop doesn't know what I'm trying to do. And as I drag up, there we go. I get the highlight, and now I can let go. And now it reorders, and the green paint is on top of the purple paint. So, you see how they reorder as layers are on top of one another. And you don't have this kind of power, if you paint all on the same layer, or whatever else you do on the same layer. So, every little separate element that I make, I want to make sure that it's on its own separate layer for the maximum flexibility.
Now this is obviously a very simple example that we basically started from scratch with. Let me show you a little bit more powerful example. It's a little bit more typical of a real world scenario. So I'm going to go over to the interface guide Layer.pst file and this is the layered version of what we've been working with in this chapter. And you can see as I scroll down here, we've got a lot of layers. And this is actually very common to have this many layers or significantly more when you're working in real world projects. In order to see more of the Layers panel and more of my layers, I'm going to double-click the name of the adjustments panel.
And of the color panel to collapse those, and now I can see more of my panels at a glance. Now, when you have this many layers, it can get hard to manage. So, there's some extra tools here. At the top of the Layers panel, we can sort by the kind of image, so if we want to look at pixel-based layers, we can click on that. And then click that again to see all of our layers. We can see just Adjustment layers, which we haven't talked about yet and a lot of these things won't make too much sense. But just be aware that you can sort by these different types of objects here.
So, Shape layers, for example, we see all of our shape layers. And click it again to see all of our other layers. A real handy way to get to the layers you're looking for quickly. Now we also might want to organize our layers. So I'm going to scroll down to the menu arrow layer. Click that. And actually you can click the visability for this layer, just to see that it's, this layer here, the little arrow above the word menu, or menus. And I can click this Layer as I select it, and then shift click, other words hold shift and click the Shape one layer so that all three of these layers are selected.
And then I can drag these layers down to this little folder icon and let go, and it makes a group. I can double-click the word group to rename this layer arrows. It's the same way rename a layer, just a regular old layer. Or a layer group. That's how we do, we double-click the name. And if I click this little disclosure triangle here it opens up the folder, and now we can see all of our layers. We have all of the same flexibility, but we just have them nice and tidy in this little folder.
So if this were actually a real project I was doing and I wasn't wanting to show you all these layers, I would have all these objects grouped into layer groups in these folders. just to make sure that things are a little bit more nice and tidy. And finally, when we have a layer such as this Empty Junk layer that, I intentionally created, and named Empty Junk, so we'd know we could throw it away. If we want to delete a layer, we can do two things, we can click on the trash can. To click delete but then we have this reminder that says or this little pop up that confirms are you sure you want to delete the layer.
And this kind of gets annoying unless we check don't show again I'm just going to check no on this. What I like to do is just click and drag, drag that layer down to the trash and there's no pop ups, it's all confirmations, it's just. Deleted and gone. There's one more thing I want to show you really quickly. If I scroll all the way down to the bottom, we could see that there is this layer called Background. It's a black layer, just a black background here. And it has this little padlock, actually looksLAUGH more like a hand bag but it's supposed to be padlock. And if I already clicked the Move tool here in the tools panel and then if I were to click and drag on this layer, seems like I'm able to move it, but once I let go this thing says, could not use the move tool because the layer is locked.
Click OK. So, basically what happens is when you bring in any files, any photo, any layer. The first layer is always a Background layer. and it's locked so you can't make changes on it. First of it's kind of doing that just to kind of help you out you know, just to make sure that you don't ruin your, your original material. But if I do want to ruin my original material, I can just double-click, this layer, kind of by the padlock here, just double-click it. And that converts the Background layer which is locked Into layer zero, or whatever else you want to call it. I can just call this black background and, then click OK. And now the lock is gone.
It's no longer a Background layer. It's just a regular old layer, and I can use my Move tool, and I can move this, wherever I want. So those are the basics of working with layers as much as you can master layers the better your going to be at Photoshop.
- Getting images into Photoshop
- Creating and navigating documents
- Working with layers
- Cropping and straightening images
- Color correction
- Making selections
- Fixing image problems
- Working with effects
- Creating and editing text
- Exporting and printing