Layers

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Interface 11.png

This is the heart of Photoshop. The Photoshop file format has a layered structure. Simply put: each document is composed of many image layers on top of each other. This enables each part of the final ‘composite’ image to be changed independently of the others. The composite image is a flattened view of all of these separate layers. The bottom of the Layers Pallet contain a set of icons that are used for creating items within the layer stack.

Interface 12.png

A - Linking
Two layers linked will move unison. Useful for web design, interface design etc. In this course this is not important.
B - Layer effects
Activates layer effects from a menu. Useful for web design, interface design etc. In this course this is not only not important but actively discouraged. Layer effects are inflexible and not suited to picture construction.
C - Mask
Create a mask. Very important.
D - Adjustment layers
Create an adjustment layer. Adjustment layers are non-destructive versions of the Adjustments that can be found in the Image / Adjust menu. These are very useful, however the only useful ones are Curves and Hue Satuartion.
E - Group
Create a group. Very important.
F - Layer
Create a layer. Very important.
G - Delete
Deletes selected layers. Very important.

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At the top of the Layers Pallet there are some controls that govern the properties of selected layers.

H - Lock
For locking various aspects of the layers. We often need to lock the transparency of a layer when we are painting on it.
I - Blend Mode
Some Blend Modes are very, very useful. Learn about them here.
J - Opacity
We hardly every need to change this value. If you need to make something lighter then use Curves, if you need to make it transpanet then add a grey to a mask.
K - Fill
We never, ever need to change this value. What is the difference between this and Opacity? Google it.
L - Menu
A few (but not many) interesting commands, e.g. select a bunch of layers and the New Group from Layers.

Tip: One major trouble that people are always having is not knowing where they are in the Layer Pallet. They might be busy painting away on one layer, really thinking that they are in another layer. Do not be fooled by what you see in the Document window. Always be aware of where you are in the Layer Pallet.

These are the most important Layer Pallet keystrokes to know:

Action
Keystroke
New layer (with dialogue) Command Shift N
New layer (without dialogue) Command Shift Option N
Duplicate layer Command J
Duplicate layer into another document Right Click then Duplicate Layer from contextual menu then select destination.
Merge layers Select layers then Command E
Make new layer from merged layer stack Copy all into clipboard: Command A then Command Shift C, then paste: Command V