As a new Photoshop user, you're going to find that the layers panel is an incredibly powerful tool.
The layers panel gives you the ability to isolate individual pieces of content away from the rest of the composition giving you the ability to work on individual elements within the overall document. Now, this can be used for something as literal as some type in this case, or something as subtle as a small brush stroke to add a highlight or shadow to an image. They also keep you organized.
You want to keep all of your content separated if possible, because that's going to afford you the most flexibility when working inside of Photoshop. For example, if you wanted to change the appearance of this rectangle, because it's on its own layer, it's incredibly easy. If it was mashed down here with the background layer, it becomes far more challenging at that point.
But if we want to change let's say the size of the rectangle, all you have to do is select that layer, and then choose a tool. In this case, I'll use the free transform tool which is Command + T on the Mac, Control + T in Windows. And then you can make your modifications.
So what we'll do is just make this a little bit smaller, and once I'm happy, I'll press return or enter. So by having this on its own individual layer, it was easy and very quick to make a modification to that piece of content. You have the ability to turn the visibility of layers on and off. For example, maybe you want to look at this image without the rectangle to see what it would look like. All I have to do is turn off the visibility by clicking this little eye icon. You'll notice that that content is no longer visible. Again, this gives you additional flexibility.
You can now save a version of this document without the rectangle, but you still have the rectangle information within the native Photoshop document. So if you ever needed to turn it back on, you can do that.You can easily create new layers by coming down here towards the bottom of the layers panel and clicking the new layer button. With this new layer, you could add any content or paint any pixels that you would need to to improve this composition. If you decide you don't want the layer, simply remove it by clicking the trashcan. I'll go ahead and confirm this.
And you also have options for individual layers in terms of fill and opacity, again giving you further control over how this layer interacts with all the other layers within the document. With this rectangle layer selected, maybe I want to drop the opacity down a little bit. By doing that, I introduce pixels in the background into the foreground of this layer.
There's also blending mode options, so we could come over and choose the type layer in this case. Right now the blend mode is set to normal, but you can see there's all sorts of different blend modes. Honestly, you could spend an entire course on blend modes, but right now if you just experiment with them, you'll begin to see what they do and what they accomplish. Basically, you're controlling how the foreground pixels interact with the background pixels.
Adobe's built in several tools to stay organized within your layers panel, you can create things like layer groups by clicking this little folder icon, and you can also filter your layers. It's not uncommon to have hundreds of layers within Photoshop document.What if you're looking for just type layers? Well, there's filter buttons up here towards the top. If you click this button, you'll notice I'm only displaying layers that are type layers. And you can turn off the filter by clicking that same button. And you can add as many of these as necessary. So it's not just one or the other, you can select the layers that you want to view.Finally, you can also control the stacking order of these layers. The stacking order ultimately dictates in which order these elements will appear. Right now, the winter layer is above the rectangle layer. I'll go ahead and set the blend mode back to normal. When I do that, if I decide I want the winter layer underneath the rectangle layer, I can simply click and drag it underneath the rectangle layer. You'll see this highlight which is an indicator as to where you're about to place this layer. When you let go of the mouse, you can now see that the winter layer is beneath the rectangle layer.
One final note, you don't have that ability with the background layer. The background layer is locked. So if I want to put the background layer above all other layers, you'll notice Photoshop doesn't allow me to do that. However, with the latest release of Photoshop CC, if you want to be able to quickly convert this background layer into a traditional layer, then giving you the ability to change the stacking order, all you have to do is click this little padlock icon, and you'll notice it immediately changes it into a traditional layer.
The layers panel is an incredibly powerful tool, and as you work more and more with Photoshop, you'll find that it's even more powerful than what I was able to show you within this one video.
- In Adobe Photoshop CC, select individual layers in the Layers panel.
- Keep layers separate whenever possible to retain maximum editing control.
- Turn the visibility of layers on and off by clicking the eye icon next to each layer.
- Create a new layer by clicking the New Layer button at the bottom of the Layers panel. Delete a layer by clicking the trash can icon.
Contributors: Train Simple, Matthew Pizzi