Photoshop’s dominance of the photo editing market is mainly due to the quality and efficiency of its tools. One of the benefits is that is relies on layers. Layers are the basic elements of any Photoshop project.
If you do not understand how to use layers in Photoshop, anything you wish to undertake will be impossible to implement. For this reason, the first thing you must learn is how to use layers to undertake a job in this fabulous graphic editing software.
What are Photoshop layers?
The simplest analogy to understand Photoshop layers is to imagine a number of transparent sheets stacked on top of each other. Let’s imagine that we draw a box on the last sheet in the stack. Despite having the other sheets on top of it, we will still be able to see it. If we add another drawing on the next sheet, we will be able to see both drawings, but this time with a more complete meaning. So on and so forth until the image we want to create is complete.
Basically what Photoshop’s layer system allows us to do is ensure each element of the drawing or image we are creating can be changed, deleted or altered without modifying the others, while still respecting the result as a whole.
It is also an excellent when we have a photo that we want to make major modifications to, since we will be able to duplicate this layer as a backup and work without fear of losing the work that has already been done. However, these are not its only functions, since it also offers other features, such as the so-called layer masks.
How to add a layer in Photoshop
Before adding a layer, the first thing to do, of course, is to create a new Photoshop document.
Once this is done, we can notice in the layers panel that a new one has been created, which is marked as “Layer 1”. This is called the “Background Layer”. Each layer that we add will be displayed in this panel, allowing us to select it and modify the elements in it.
To create a new layer, all we have to do is click on the icon as shown in the image and select the “New layer” option. It should be noted that the layer name can always be changed to something more descriptive. To do this, double-click on the layer name to select it, and enter the relevant text.
To select a Photoshop layer to work on, all we have to do is touch it with the mouse pointer, and it will automatically be ready and highlighted in color to start editing it.
The Photoshop Layers Panel
The Layers Panel is the center of everything related to the manipulation of layers, since all the tools used to edit the images it contains are grouped there. In this sense, the most important elements in the Layers Panel, in addition to the layers themselves, are the blend or merge slider menu, where we can select the way the layers relate to each other to achieve a certain effect.
In other words, it is possible to control how a particular tool influences the pixels contained in the image. In this sense, Photoshop offers 25 different blending modes. It is just a matter of playing with them a little and trying what the final result is, according to the selected blending mode, that is obtained.
After the blend menu, we will find two sliding menus, “Opacity” and “Fill”, which basically allow us to modify the transparency level of the layers.
You may also notice that we have some more tools available, such as the possibility to lock the layer for editing, both for pixels and movement, as well as locking the entire Photoshop layer.
Now on the layer itself we have available a number of tools that are strictly for the arrangement and display of the layers. As we can see, next to each layer there is an eye icon, which makes it easy to hide or display the selected Photoshop layer.
This tool is extremely useful when we have to edit a specific layer, as it allows us to focus without distractions or annoyances on specifically what is contained in the layer we are editing. If we press it once, the layer disappears, if we press it again, the layer appears.