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Photoshop Tutorial
Introduction to Photoshop
The Menu Bar of Photoshop
Status Bar of Photoshop
The ToolBox of Photoshop
Palettes of Photoshop
Navigator Palette and Hand Tool of Photoshop
New View & Duplicate
Image Size & Resolution in Photoshop
Image Size Dialog Box in Photoshop
Canvas Size in Photoshop
Crop Tool in Photoshop
History Palette Basics
Color Primer in Photoshop
Color Picker in Photoshop
Color & Swatch Palettes in Photoshop
Custom Swatch Exercise in Photoshop
Eyedropper & Info Palette
Marquee Selection Tools
Lasso & Wand Selection Tools
Selection Tool Practice
Select Menu Commands
Transforming Selections
Quick Mask Mode in Photoshop
More Quick Mask in Photoshop
Alpha Channels & Channel Palette
Intro to Layers
Important Layer Information
Move, Copy & Transform Layers
Advanced Layer Features
Working With Type Introduction
The Type Tool (v.5.x)
The Type Tool - Continued (v.5.x)
The Type Tool - (v.6.x)
The Type Tool - Continued (v.6.x)
Type Palettes and Text Warping (v6.x) in Photoshop
Intro, Paint Bucket and Fill Command in Photoshop
Gradient, Pattern and Line Tools in Photoshop
Brushes and Fade Command in Photoshop
Pencil, Paintbrush and Airbrush Tools in Photoshop
Eraser Tools in Photoshop
Retouching Tools in Photoshop
Blur, Sharpen, Smudge Tools in Photoshop
Dodge, Burn, Sponge Tools in Photoshop
Clone Stamp Tool in Photoshop

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Intro to Layers


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Intro to Layers


A D V E R T I S E M E N T

What is a layer?

If you're totally unfamiliar with layers in graphics software, they can be a bit difficult to grasp. You can think of each layer in a document as a sheet of clear transparent film. When you paint on one of the sheets, you can still see through the unpainted areas of the sheet. When you stack the sheets, the painted areas on the lower sheets will show through the transparent areas of the sheets above. In Photoshop, the transparent portions of a layer are displayed as a gray and white checkerboard pattern (unless the image contains a background). The checkerboard pattern is not really part of the document, it's just there to help you identify the transparent areas.

A Layered Image with TransparencyTake a look at the examples here. The large image shows the three layers stacked. The three smaller image show the contents of each layer. You can tell by the way the objects overlap that the fish is at the bottom of the stack, the butterfly is in the middle, and the star is at the top of the stack. Photoshop treats each layer as if it were a separate document so that any editing functions are only applied to the active layer.

Layer 1Layer 2Layer 3

When you open an image such as a digital photo in Photoshop, normally the image opens with only a background layer. The background is a special layer that cannot have transparency and always remains on the bottom of the stack. When you stack additional layers above the background, the background will show through the unfilled portions of the layers above it. A background can be converted to an ordinary layer by double clicking on its name in the layers palette. You can type a new name for the layer at that time or accept the default. Naming your layers as you create them is a good habit to get into, because it helps you identify your layers in the layers palette more easily.

The Layers PaletteIn Photoshop, you use the layer palette for managing the layers in a document. Here's a screen shot of the layers palette for the example above. (I've enlarged the thumbnails for this screen shot so you could better see the layer contents.)

You're likely to find that the layers palette is one of the most often used elements of the Photoshop interface. In fact, you may find it useful to rearrange your palette placement to allow maximum space for the layers palette. Personally, I like to keep the least used palettes collapsed at the bottom of the screen, leaving the entire right side free to expand the history palette and the layers palette. If you have Photoshop 6, you can use the palette well in the options bar to hold some of the lesser used palettes. And if you're fortunate enough to have a multi-monitor configuration on your computer, you can really maximize your workspace.

There are considerable differences in the layers palettes in Photoshop 5.x and 6.0, so I have divided the layers palette overview into separate pages according to your version. Choose your Photoshop version below to continue on to the layers palette overview.

 



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