Photoshop & Layers

One night a week, I privately tutor a friend in Photoshop. Typically at the end of the session, I come away with insights about the application and how people understand it. Monday night was no different, except this time I still feel invigorated enough to talk about it in the hope that it will help others to understand this cumbersome destructive & powerful tool.

So I guess i've got the next few days covered in terms of blogging.

Here's a copy and paste from the help files for Photoshop CS3

About layers
Photoshop layers are like sheets of stacked acetate. You can see through transparent areas of a layer to the layers below. You move a layer to position the content on the layer, like sliding a sheet of acetate in a stack. You can also change the opacity of a layer to make content partially transparent.

You use layers to perform tasks such as compositing multiple images, adding text to an image, or adding vector graphic shapes. You can apply a layer style to add a special effect such as a drop shadow or a glow.

Work nondestructively
Sometimes layers don’t contain any apparent content. For example, an adjustment layer holds color or tonal adjustments that affect the layers below it. Rather than edit image pixels directly, you can edit an adjustment layer and leave the underlying pixels unchanged.

A special type of layer, called a Smart Object, contains one or more layers of content. You can transform (scale, skew, or reshape) a Smart Object without directly editing image pixels. Or, you can edit the Smart Object as a separate image even after placing it in a Photoshop image. Smart Objects can also contain smart filter effects, which allow you to apply filters nondestructively to images so that you can later tweak or remove the filter effect. See Nondestructive editing.

Organize layers
A new image has a single layer. The number of additional layers, layer effects, and layer sets you can add to an image is limited only by your computer’s memory.

You work with layers in the Layers palette. Layer groups help you organize and manage layers. You can use groups to arrange your layers in a logical order and to reduce clutter in the Layers palette. You can nest groups within other groups. You can also use groups to apply attributes and masks to multiple layers simultaneously.

Essentially there are 4 types of layers in photoshop. Each has a use that can be combined with other layers to provide a level of photo manipulation unheard of for the average person prior to Photoshop 4, Photoshop itself is over 10 years old maybe 15.

  1. Plain Layers, clear of information, waiting to be edited.
  2. Adjustment Layers, used to adjust, in a non-destructive way, things like Hue & Saturation, Levels, Curves, ETC
  3. Layer Mask, which is used to hide and reveal differences between 2 or more image layers, again in a non-destructive manner.
  4. Text Layer, used for, well text.

More tomorrow, hopefully.

One night a week, I privately tutor a friend in Photoshop. Typically at the end of the session, I come away with insights about the application and how people understand it. Monday night was no different, except this time I still feel invigorated enough to talk about it in the hope that it will help others to understand this cumbersome destructive & powerful tool.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by s2art published on November 27, 2007 3:15 PM.

Influences was the previous entry in this blog.

Photoshop Layers 2 is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.