Advanced Layer Features
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
The Group with Previous
command under the Layer menu allows you to use one layer as a mask for other
layers. When you define a clipping group, the lowest layer in the group becomes
the mask for the other layers in the group. Since layer clipping groups are a
more advanced feature, I am not going to discuss them in great detail here.
However, I will show you some simple examples of where you might find them
useful. If you'd like to explore them further, see pages 275-276 in the
Photoshop 5.0 User Guide, or pages 218-219 in the Photoshop 6.0 User
One useful application for
grouping layers is when you want to fill text with a photo or fill. Sure, you
can make a selection from the text and paste into it, but then the text would
not be editable. For this exercise, I've created a file with a white background,
a rainbow filled gradient layer, a (hidden) texture layer, and text layer. Save
to your hard disk and open it in Photoshop. We're going to fill the text with a
gradient and then apply a texture. (When you open the file in Photoshop 6, you
may get a message that some layers need to be updated. Click Update if you see
this dialog box.)
Since the bottommost layer
is always the clipping layer, first you will need to move the text layer below
the gradient and texture layers.
- Use the layers
palette to drag the layers into this order from top to bottom:
- Next make the Rainbow
Gradient layer active, and choose Layer > Group with Previous or
- The text is now
filled with a gradient.
- Make the Texture
layer active and visible by clicking on the layer name.
- Group this layer by
(Another way of grouping the layer is to Alt/Option
click on the border between two layers in the layers palette.)
- At this point the
texture is blocking out the gradient fill. We'll use layer blending modes to
apply the texture to the rainbow fill. Change the blend mode of the Texture
layer to Luminosity.
Now you have textured,
colored text that remains editable!
Are you beginning to see
the power of Photoshop's layers? Well, hold on to your mouse, because this is
only the beginning!
Layer masks are very much like quick mask selections or alpha
channels, but they are linked only to a single layer. They can be edited and are
saved with your document when you save in the native Photoshop file format.
Layer masks can be started from scratch, or applied from an existing selection.
Layer masks are especially powerful because they allow you apply transparency to
a layer without permanently destroying the pixels in the layer. As long as the
layer mask is linked to the layer, portions of the masked layer can be hidden
and revealed without harming the original pixels. Layer masks are ideal for
creating composite images and montages.
Adjustment layers are special layers that are used to make
adjustments to the underlying layers. Most of the items under the Image Adjust
menu can also be applied by using an adjustment layer. Using an adjustment layer
has a distinct advantage, because... well, because it's adjustable! In other
words, if you apply a Hue/Saturation adjustment to an image, and then later
decide the change is too drastic, you can double click on the adjustment layer
and revise the settings. In addition, adjustment layers have built-in layer
masks, so you can erase the adjustment from selected areas by painting on the
adjustment layer with black. Painting on the adjustment layer with shades of
gray allows you to selectively fade the adjustment.
for Version 6.0
| Photoshop 6.0 moves all the layer effects into a common dialog box
called Layer Styles and adds the following new effects: Satin, Color
Overlay, Gradient Overlay, Pattern Overlay, and Stroke. Photoshop 6.0
also offers more options for modifying the all the layer styles,
including those that were introduced in version 5.0.
box for layer styles in Photoshop 6 is not quite as intuitive as it was
in Photoshop 5.5. When you apply layer effects in Photoshop 6, you put a
check mark in the box next to the effect name to apply the layer effect,
but you must click on the layer name to access the options for each
Layer effects are special effects that can be applied to a layer. The
great thing about layer effects is that they are fully editable and dynamic. You
can modify the contents of a layer and the layer effects automatically change as
the layer contents change. You can also adjust various aspects of the layer
effects. In Photoshop 5, the layer effects include Drop Shadow, Inner Shadow,
Outer Glow, Inner Glow, Bevel & Emboss, and Color Fill. All of these effects
could be created in Photoshop, prior to the addition of the layer effects
feature in Photoshop 5, however, it required many layers and steps, and if you
changed the contents of the layer the effect would have to be recreated from
scratch! Learn more about layer effects in
overview written for Photoshop 5. Photoshop 6 users will find it useful,
too, but the dialog boxes will look a bit different.
Photoshop 6 Fill Layers
Fill layers are unique to Photoshop 6. A fill layer can contain a
solid color, gradient, or pattern. When you designate a layer as a fill layer,
the fill can be changed very easily by clicking its icon on the layers palette.
Fill layers also have layer masks attached, so portions of the fill layer can be
nondestructively erased, just by painting on the layer mask.
Photoshop 6 Shape Layers
Another type of layer new to Photoshop 6 is a shape layer. Shape
Layers are essentially fill layers with vector clipping masks (as opposed to
raster layer masks). The contents of shape layers can be changed on the fly,
just like Fill layers. The clipping mask is an actual vector shape that can be
manipulated through the direct selection tool and, unlike a raster layer mask,
vector shape masks will always have crisp, sharp edges.
Note: When advanced TIFF options are enabled in Photoshop 6.0, layer masks
and adjustment layers are also preserved for TIFF files. However, layer effects,
shape layers, and fill layers are not preserved in TIFF files.
We'll practice using layer
masks, layer effects, and adjustment layers as we progress further in the
course, but first we need to cover more of the basic tools. We'll pick up next
week with working with text.