Posted on 1998-03-18
Last Modified: 2010-04-03
I have been using photo shop and paint shop for over a year now to make pics and
fix photes but I have not been able to figure out how to use the layers function
nor have I found a page that will explain it to me..... could you please help??
Question by:btinbc

Accepted Solution

AsWas earned 100 total points
ID: 1115417
Hello!  For starters, let's open LAYERS by pulling down WINDOW and choosing SHOW LAYERS.  This will all really help if you have a graphic file open, so open one!  Make sure it is saved as PHOTOSHOP format, since you can't create layers in a JPEG, GIF, or other formats.  So you may want to do SAVE AS and call it testfile.psd or whatever you like (I'm on Windows, so I use the .psd extension).  

Basically, LAYERS allow you to separate elements in your document so that you can manipulate items individually without feeling like you are jeopardising your file (and sanity) everytime you make a change.  For example, I may make the photo one layer, text I'm overlaying another layer, and that text's drop shadow another layer... so that each one can be manipulated/changed or color-corrected separately.

OK now we're ready to explore.  If you look at the bottom of the LAYERS panel, you will see three small icons.  From L to R they are "add layer mask," "create new layer," and "delete current layer."  You always know what layer you are dealing with because it should be highlighted (mine are blue).  When you start out, you normally just have one layer called BACKGROUND.  Hit the CREATE NEW LAYER icon in the LAYERS panel.  "Layer 1" should be created and highlighted.  If you wish to change this layer's name, double click on it.  Now, any artwork you do or text you add will be superimposed on top of the background layer.  By the way, on P'shop 4, when you use the TEXT tool to add new text, it automatically makes the text a new layer.  

Once you have layers, you can change their qualities from within the LAYERS panel.  You can make your selected layer invisible by clicking on the icon of the human eye.  You can use the OPACITY slide at the top to make that whole layer more or less opaque (see through).  I use opacity in layers when I am painting over a photograph, and want what I'm doing to be more subtle.

You can use as many layers as you like, but remember that for each layer you add, your file size is growing in a major way (just so you know!).  For example, I recently did a jcard for a cassette tape for my sister - the file ended up being around 16meg.  She sent me photos she wanted collaged, and I made each one its own layer.  Using the MOVE TOOL (letter V) I could move the chosen layer around as I liked.  Using the ERASE TOOL (letter E), I faded the edges of the photos so that it all didn't look so boxy.  Then I added text and a shadow (2 layers total).  I saved it frequently :) and when I was done, I needed it to be a TIF.  I used FLATTEN IMAGE, which is found both in the LAYER menu as well as in the submenu you will see if you click once on the right-pointing triangle in the top right part of the LAYERS panel.  Then I used SAVE AS to make sure it was a TIF and that I wasn't saving over my original multi-layered Photoshop document.

Before you flatten your image, make sure the layers you want visible are visible, the invisible ones are invisible, and that each has the desired opacity.  Then, after you flatten the image, you can change the mode or the resolution if you wish, and SAVE AS whatever you want!

Last tip: always make sure that the layer you HOPE you are working on is the highlighted one!  Don't be fooled by what you see in your image - make sure the layer you want to work on is highlighted.  Otherwise, you could be making changes to other layers and wondering why what you are looking at isn't changing.  Then you might save it, and then you will be really sad.  :)

I hope this helps.  Good luck!
-Debbie []

Author Comment

ID: 1115418
thank you very much ..... you gave a very clear and thourough answer..... and it wasnt even in i understood exactly what you were telling me.... will enjoy playing with this new toy even more now.. thanks!!!!!!

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