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Photoshop Layers - part 1 of 1 2

by Mike McNamee Published

The Layers Palette in Photoshop is like the skeleton upon which other parts of the image are attached. It is the first serious palette that the beginner comes to, usually followed by the Channels Palette and eventually the Paths palette. These three palettes are grouped together in the default palette nesting.

A layer in Photoshop and the pixels upon it are a separate part of an image and may be moved, copied, colour adjusted and turned on or off independently from the other parts of the image. When a Photoshop file is saved all layers are saved as part of that file even if they are turned off in the visibility box. Only layers, which have the visibility eye showing, will show in a print of the image. Fundamental properties

1. A simple file has only a Background Layer (i.e. one directly from a camera or scanner), which may be changed to a regular layer by double clicking it in the layers palette whereupon it becomes Layer 0 by default. Layers may be c double clicked in the layers Palette and given their own name, of your choosing.

2. Layers can be moved independently of other layers and the rest of the image.

3. Layers higher up in the layer stack in the palette show above the content of other layers in the image.

4. A layer may be physically larger than the image in which it sits. The pixels outside the bounds of the host image are called "big data". Moving a layer containing big data reveals that data and big data are saved with a Photoshop file. Big data are lost when a file is trimmed. Cropped or flattened.

5. In the default Windows colour scheme the active layer is coloured blue in the layer stack unless it is being dragged when it changes to yellow. Only active layers or layers linked to the active layer may be moved or changed.

6. A layer may be dragged and dropped onto another image and in doing so it "lands" where you let go of the left mouse button,. If you hold down the Shift key as you drag and drop the moved layer lands right in the middle of the host image.


Essential shortcuts

1. The Tab key hides all palettes

2. F7 toggles the Layer Palette on and off.

3. Typing a numeral sets the active palette to that numeric value of transparency e.g. typing 5 sets the transparency at 50%.Typing two digits e.g. 55 sets it to say 55% transparency.

4. Ctrl-clicking a Layer in the Layer stack loads the pixels in that layer as a selection.

5. With a selection active, hitting Ctrl-J copies the selected pixels and pastes a copy of them into a new layer above the active layer.This is called "floating" a selection. The pixels in the original layer are left unchanged.

6. Holding the Alt key down and clicking the horizontal line between an Adjustment Layer and the Layer below it groups the Adjustment Layer to the regular layer and then only effects that one layer in the stack. Without grouping an Adjustment layer affects all layers below it in the stack.


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last update 06/11/2019 11:07:47

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