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Photoshop Elements Training: Creating Layers and Layer Types

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Photoshop Elements Training on Layers

This blog post is a small Photoshop Elements training on using layers and layer types, as well as creating new layers within Adobe Photoshop Elements 12. This material is taken from our longer Photoshop Elements training course titled “Mastering Photoshop Elements Made Easy™ v.12,” which you can learn more about by clicking the link. This tutorial will introduce you to the concept of using layers and creating layers within Adobe Photoshop Elements 12. You will also learn the different types of layers that can be applied to a file within Adobe Photoshop Elements 12. After completing this tutorial, you can sign up for a free demonstration of the full online training tutorial, if you want to learn more about how to use Adobe Photoshop 12, by clicking this link to visit our free online demo sign-up page. You can learn more about Adobe Photoshop Elements 12 by visiting the Adobe product site at this link.

Photoshop Elements Training- Using Layers:

In Elements, all of the items that you add and manipulate are stored in layers. A layer is like a transparent sheet on which the images are placed and edited. Where there is no image or content in a layer, it is transparent, allowing you to see through it to the content below. You can stack several layers on top of one another to separate the various individual image elements of a larger image file. This way, you can manipulate the contents of a single layer without disturbing the content of the other layers. In this chapter you will examine how you can create and edit the layers and their contents to produce various effects in your image files. Understanding and using layers is one of the most critical aspects of being an effective user of Elements.

Whenever you create a new image file in Elements that has a white or colored background, the bottommost layer is called the background layer. An image file can only have one background layer, at most. You cannot change the placement of the background layer in the layer stack, its opacity or its blending mode. However, you can convert this layer into a normal layer.

If you create a new image with a transparent background, then the image file does not have a background layer. The bottommost layer is not constrained in the way that the standard background layer is. So, you can move its position in the layer stack, change its opacity and even change its blending mode.

You use the “Layers” panel to manage your layers in the selected image file. You can launch the “Layers” panel, if it isn’t displayed, by selecting “Window| Layers” from the Menu Bar. In the Layers panel, you will see the various layers in the current image file displayed in a list. Just as with your other panels that you have seen, this panel has an options button that you can click to view the options for the panel in a pop-up menu. Take a moment to examine the Layers panel’s features before using it.

A picture of the "Layers" panel within Adobe Photoshop Elements 12 with labels pointing out the tools and features within the panel. This image is from the Photoshop Elements training titled "Mastering Photoshop Elements Made Easy v.12" by TeachUcomp, Inc.


Below is a video you can watch to accompany the information within this section.


Photoshop Elements Training- Layer Types

You can add a variety of types of layers in Elements. An “Image Layer,” often called simply a “layer,” is the most basic type of layer. You can create layers using images themselves, or you can create a blank layer and insert an image onto it.

“Adjustment Layers” are layers used to correct contrast and color in an image. When you create an adjustment layer, you make changes to that layer without permanently affecting the original pixels. Adjustment layers create a layer mask that lays on top of the layer. This allows you to apply the adjustment to the layers below it, or even blend two layers together. To create an adjustment layer, click the “Create a New Fill or Adjustment Layer” icon the Layers panel. Choose your preferred adjustment from the drop-down menu, make your changes in the panel that appears, and then close the panel when finished. You can also add a layer mask directly to a layer by clicking the “Add Layer Mask” icon.

“Fill Layers” allow you to add a layer with a solid color, pattern or gradient. Creating a fill layer also creates layer masks, as with an adjustment layer. To create a fill layer, click the “Create a New Fill or Adjustment Layer” icon the Layers panel. Choose a solid color, gradient, or pattern from the drop-down menu, make your changes, and click “OK.”

“Shape Layers” are layers where you have created a vector-based shape. To create a shape layer, select any of the shape tools (discussed later) in the Toolbox and then click and drag within your image file to draw the shape. If you have a blank image layer selected, then the shape will be placed into the layer. If not, then a new shape layer will be created automatically.

“Type Layers” are created by adding type to your image. Type will be discussed in greater detail in the next chapter, but adding type is quite easy. Click into your image with the type tool and start to type. If you have a blank image layer selected, the text will appear in the layer. If not, then when you click the “Commit” button that appears you will create a new type layer.


Below is a video you can watch to accompany the information within this section.


Photoshop Elements Training- Creating New Layers:

You can easily create layers in Elements. Many commands create layers from selections automatically when you use them. You can also create blank layers and then add content to them. To create a new blank layer, just click the “Create New Layer” button in the Layers panel. You could also select “Layer| New| Layer…” from the Menu Bar. If you choose the former option, it creates a new layer with a default name instantly in the Layers panel. If you choose the latter option, you will launch the “New Layer” dialog box. In this dialog box, you can type the name for the new layer in the “Name:” text box. You can then set the desired blending mode by using the “Mode” drop-down. Then use the “Opacity” slider to set the layer’s opacity level. If you select “Use Previous Layer to Create a Clipping Mask,” you will create a “Clipping Group,” in which a group of layers is constrained to the boundaries of a base layer. Clipping groups will be discussed in upcoming lessons. When you are ready to create the layer, click the “OK” button to add the layer to the Layers panel.

To convert the “Background” layer into a normal layer, select the “Background” layer, first. Then select “Layer| New| Layer from Background…” from the Menu Bar. This will launch the “New Layer” dialog box as well, allowing you to name the layer and set additional options for it. When you click “OK” you will convert the “Background” layer into the layer that you just created with the properties that you set.


Below is a video you can watch to accompany the information within this section.

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