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Photoshop - Layers What are they?

Layers were introduced around the time Photoshop 3.0 came into the world. Layers are like stacks of transparent papers one on top of another. Essentially blank canvasses ready to be painted, colored, or modified. Layers can also be blended together or have other sorts of computer generated layered effects. Say you were to draw on the top most layer, the bottom layer would lie unscathed but the effects drawn on the top layer would still be seen.

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Layering allows you to fool around with all the neat, little effects and filters Photoshop offers without destroying or altering the original image.

Photoshop - The Layers Palette

When we open an existing file or create a brand new one, the canvas in front of us lies on its own layer. Generally this layer is already named background and we can see it in the layers palette on the right hand side of the program.

The Layers Palette:

The Layers Palette

The layers palette is the control panel for layers in Photoshop. Layers can be placed one on top of another and moved around by clicking on the layer name and dragging the mouse up or down.

Photoshop - Creating Layers

There are a number of ways to create a layer. The simplest involves clicking on the "Create New Layer" icon at the bottom right of the layers palette.

Create Layer Icon:

Create Layer Icon

You can also use the "Layer" menu located at the top of the screen and select New->Layer. Here you will also see the keyboard shortcut command.

Layers Menu:

Layer Menu

Additionally the keyboard shortcut of Ctrl+Shift+N (Command+Option+N for Macs). With the creation of a layer in this way Photoshop will ask for a name for the layer. Name your layer or just ignore the pop-up clicking "OK" and a new layer appears in the layer palette.

Name Layers:

Name Layer Box

Layers can also be named by double clicking on the name of the layer (layer1) in the layers palette.

Photoshop - Hiding Layers

Another advantage to layering your work is that at any time a layer can be temporarily hidden from view by clicking on the "eye" icon next to the desired layer in the layers palette.

Hide Layers:

Hide Layers

Photoshop - Linking Layers

Layers can also be linked together. This is handy when moving layers and things around with the "Move Tool." Linking one layer to another holds the them relative to each other. If one moves, then the other moves. Link layers together by clicking in the vacant box that lies adjacent to the eye.

Linking Layers:

Linking Layers

Photoshop - Selecting Layers

Entire layers can be selected with a keyboard shortcut. Simply Ctrl+Click on the display box of the layer that you wish to select. This will select everything on the layer.

Selecting Layers:

Selecting Layers


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