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Layer basics

  1. Photoshop User Guide
  2. Introduction to Photoshop
    1. Dream it. Make it.
    2. What's new in Photoshop
    3. Edit your first photo
    4. Create documents
    5. Photoshop | Common Questions
    6. Photoshop system requirements
    7. Get to know Photoshop
  3. Photoshop and other Adobe products and services
    1. Work with Illustrator artwork in Photoshop
    2. Work with Photoshop files in InDesign
    3. Substance 3D Materials for Photoshop
    4. Use the Capture in-app extension in Photoshop
  4. Photoshop on the iPad (not available in mainland China)
    1. Photoshop on the iPad | Common questions
    2. Get to know the workspace
    3. System requirements | Photoshop on the iPad
    4. Create, open, and export documents
    5. Add photos
    6. Work with layers
    7. Draw and paint with brushes
    8. Make selections and add masks
    9. Retouch your composites
    10. Work with adjustment layers
    11. Adjust the tonality of your composite with Curves
    12. Apply transform operations
    13. Crop and rotate your composites
    14. Rotate, pan, zoom, and reset the canvas
    15. Work with Type layers
    16. Work with Photoshop and Lightroom
    17. Get missing fonts in Photoshop on the iPad
    18. Japanese Text in Photoshop on the iPad
    19. Manage app settings
    20. Touch shortcuts and gestures
    21. Keyboard shortcuts
    22. Edit your image size
    23. Livestream as you create in Photoshop on the iPad
    24. Correct imperfections with the Healing Brush
    25. Create brushes in Capture and use them in Photoshop on the iPad
    26. Work with Camera Raw files
    27. Create and work with Smart Objects
    28. Adjust exposure in your images with Dodge and Burn
    29. Auto adjustment commands in Photoshop on the iPad
    30. Smudge areas in your images with Photoshop on the iPad
    31. Saturate or desaturate your images using Sponge tool
    32. Content aware fill for iPad
  5. Photoshop on the web (not available in mainland China)
    1. Common questions
    2. System requirements
    3. Keyboard shortcuts
    4. Supported file types
    5. Introduction to the workspace
    6. Open and work with cloud documents
    7. Generative AI features
    8. Basic concepts of editing
    9. Quick Actions
    10. Work with layers
    11. Retouch images and remove imperfections
    12. Make quick selections
    13. Image improvements with Adjustment Layers
    14. Move, transform, and crop images
    15. Draw and paint
    16. Work with Type layers
    17. Work with anyone on the web
    18. Manage app settings
    19. Generate Image
    20. Generate Background
    21. Reference Image
  6. Photoshop (beta) (not available in mainland China)
    1. Get started with Creative Cloud Beta apps
    2. Photoshop (beta) on the desktop
    3. Generate image with descriptive text prompts
    4. Generate background with descriptive text prompts
  7. Generative AI (not available in mainland China) 
    1. Common questions on generative AI in Photoshop
    2. Generative Fill in Photoshop on the desktop
    3. Generative Expand in Photoshop on the desktop
    4. Generative Fill in Photoshop on the iPad
    5. Generative Expand in Photoshop on the iPad
    6. Generative AI features in Photoshop on the web
  8. Content authenticity (not available in mainland China)
    1. Content credentials in Photoshop
    2. Identity and provenance for NFTs
    3. Connect accounts for creative attribution
  9. Cloud documents (not available in mainland China)
    1. Photoshop cloud documents | Common questions
    2. Photoshop cloud documents | Workflow questions
    3. Manage and work with cloud documents in Photoshop
    4. Upgrade cloud storage for Photoshop
    5. Unable to create or save a cloud document
    6. Solve Photoshop cloud document errors
    7. Collect cloud document sync logs
    8. Invite others to edit your cloud documents
    9. Share files and comment in-app
  10. Workspace
    1. Workspace basics
    2. Preferences
    3. Learn faster with the Photoshop Discover Panel
    4. Create documents
    5. Place files
    6. Default keyboard shortcuts
    7. Customize keyboard shortcuts
    8. Tool galleries
    9. Performance preferences
    10. Use tools
    11. Presets
    12. Grid and guides
    13. Touch gestures
    14. Use the Touch Bar with Photoshop
    15. Touch capabilities and customizable workspaces
    16. Technology previews
    17. Metadata and notes
    18. Touch capabilities and customizable workspaces
    19. Place Photoshop images in other applications
    20. Rulers
    21. Show or hide non-printing Extras
    22. Specify columns for an image
    23. Undo and history
    24. Panels and menus
    25. Position elements with snapping
    26. Position with the Ruler tool
  11. Web, screen, and app design
    1. Photoshop for design
    2. Artboards
    3. Device Preview
    4. Copy CSS from layers
    5. Slice web pages
    6. HTML options for slices
    7. Modify slice layout
    8. Work with web graphics
    9. Create web photo galleries
  12. Image and color basics
    1. How to resize images
    2. Work with raster and vector images
    3. Image size and resolution
    4. Acquire images from cameras and scanners
    5. Create, open, and import images
    6. View images
    7. Invalid JPEG Marker error | Opening images
    8. Viewing multiple images
    9. Customize color pickers and swatches
    10. High dynamic range images
    11. Match colors in your image
    12. Convert between color modes
    13. Color modes
    14. Erase parts of an image
    15. Blending modes
    16. Choose colors
    17. Customize indexed color tables
    18. Image information
    19. Distort filters are unavailable
    20. About color
    21. Color and monochrome adjustments using channels
    22. Choose colors in the Color and Swatches panels
    23. Sample
    24. Color mode or Image mode
    25. Color cast
    26. Add a conditional mode change to an action
    27. Add swatches from HTML CSS and SVG
    28. Bit depth and preferences
  13. Layers
    1. Layer basics
    2. Nondestructive editing
    3. Create and manage layers and groups
    4. Select, group, and link layers
    5. Place images into frames
    6. Layer opacity and blending
    7. Mask layers
    8. Apply Smart Filters
    9. Layer comps
    10. Move, stack, and lock layers
    11. Mask layers with vector masks
    12. Manage layers and groups
    13. Layer effects and styles
    14. Edit layer masks
    15. Extract assets
    16. Reveal layers with clipping masks
    17. Generate image assets from layers
    18. Work with Smart Objects
    19. Blending modes
    20. Combine multiple images into a group portrait
    21. Combine images with Auto-Blend Layers
    22. Align and distribute layers
    23. Copy CSS from layers
    24. Load selections from a layer or layer mask's boundaries
    25. Knockout to reveal content from other layers
  14. Selections
    1. Get started with selections
    2. Make selections in your composite
    3. Select and Mask workspace
    4. Select with the marquee tools
    5. Select with the lasso tools
    6. Adjust pixel selections
    7. Move, copy, and delete selected pixels
    8. Create a temporary quick mask
    9. Select a color range in an image
    10. Convert between paths and selection borders
    11. Channel basics
    12. Save selections and alpha channel masks
    13. Select the image areas in focus
    14. Duplicate, split, and merge channels
    15. Channel calculations
  15. Image adjustments
    1. Replace object colors
    2. Perspective warp
    3. Reduce camera shake blurring
    4. Healing brush examples
    5. Export color lookup tables
    6. Adjust image sharpness and blur
    7. Understand color adjustments
    8. Apply a Brightness/Contrast adjustment
    9. Adjust shadow and highlight detail
    10. Levels adjustment
    11. Adjust hue and saturation
    12. Adjust vibrance
    13. Adjust color saturation in image areas
    14. Make quick tonal adjustments
    15. Apply special color effects to images
    16. Enhance your image with color balance adjustments
    17. High dynamic range images
    18. View histograms and pixel values
    19. Match colors in your image
    20. Crop and straighten photos
    21. Convert a color image to black and white
    22. Adjustment and fill layers
    23. Curves adjustment
    24. Blending modes
    25. Target images for press
    26. Adjust color and tone with Levels and Curves eyedroppers
    27. Adjust HDR exposure and toning
    28. Dodge or burn image areas
    29. Make selective color adjustments
  16. Adobe Camera Raw
    1. Camera Raw system requirements
    2. What's new in Camera Raw
    3. Introduction to Camera Raw
    4. Create panoramas
    5. Supported lenses
    6. Vignette, grain, and dehaze effects in Camera Raw
    7. Default keyboard shortcuts
    8. Automatic perspective correction in Camera Raw
    9. Radial Filter in Camera Raw
    10. Manage Camera Raw settings
    11. Open, process, and save images in Camera Raw
    12. Repair images with the Enhanced Spot Removal tool in Camera Raw
    13. Rotate, crop, and adjust images
    14. Adjust color rendering in Camera Raw
    15. Process versions in Camera Raw
    16. Make local adjustments in Camera Raw
  17. Image repair and restoration
    1. Remove objects from your photos with Content-Aware Fill
    2. Content-Aware Patch and Move
    3. Retouch and repair photos
    4. Correct image distortion and noise
    5. Basic troubleshooting steps to fix most issues
  18. Image enhancement and transformation
    1. Replace sky in your images
    2. Transform objects
    3. Adjust crop, rotation, and canvas size
    4. How to crop and straighten photos
    5. Create and edit panoramic images
    6. Warp images, shapes, and paths
    7. Vanishing Point
    8. Content-aware scaling
    9. Transform images, shapes, and paths
  19. Drawing and painting
    1. Paint symmetrical patterns
    2. Draw rectangles and modify stroke options
    3. About drawing
    4. Draw and edit shapes
    5. Painting tools
    6. Create and modify brushes
    7. Blending modes
    8. Add color to paths
    9. Edit paths
    10. Paint with the Mixer Brush
    11. Brush presets
    12. Gradients
    13. Gradient interpolation
    14. Fill and stroke selections, layers, and paths
    15. Draw with the Pen tools
    16. Create patterns
    17. Generate a pattern using the Pattern Maker
    18. Manage paths
    19. Manage pattern libraries and presets
    20. Draw or paint with a graphics tablet
    21. Create textured brushes
    22. Add dynamic elements to brushes
    23. Gradient
    24. Paint stylized strokes with the Art History Brush
    25. Paint with a pattern
    26. Sync presets on multiple devices
    27. Migrate presets, actions, and settings
  20. Text
    1. Add and edit the text
    2. Unified Text Engine
    3. Work with OpenType SVG fonts
    4. Format characters
    5. Format paragraphs
    6. How to create type effects
    7. Edit text
    8. Line and character spacing
    9. Arabic and Hebrew type
    10. Fonts
    11. Troubleshoot fonts
    12. Asian type
    13. Create type
  21. Filters and effects
    1. Use the Blur Gallery
    2. Filter basics
    3. Filter effects reference
    4. Add Lighting Effects
    5. Use the Adaptive Wide Angle filter
    6. Use the Oil Paint filter
    7. Use the Liquify filter
    8. Layer effects and styles
    9. Apply specific filters
    10. Smudge image areas
  22. Saving and exporting
    1. Save your files in Photoshop
    2. Export your files in Photoshop
    3. Supported file formats
    4. Save files in graphics formats
    5. Move designs between Photoshop and Illustrator
    6. Save and export video and animations
    7. Save PDF files
    8. Digimarc copyright protection
  23. Color Management
    1. Understanding color management
    2. Keeping colors consistent
    3. Color settings
    4. Duotones
    5. Work with color profiles
    6. Color-managing documents for online viewing
    7. Color-managing documents when printing
    8. Color-managing imported images
    9. Proofing colors
  24. Web, screen, and app design
    1. Photoshop for design
    2. Artboards
    3. Device Preview
    4. Copy CSS from layers
    5. Slice web pages
    6. HTML options for slices
    7. Modify slice layout
    8. Work with web graphics
    9. Create web photo galleries
  25. Video and animation
    1. Video editing in Photoshop
    2. Edit video and animation layers
    3. Video and animation overview
    4. Preview video and animations
    5. Paint frames in video layers
    6. Import video files and image sequences
    7. Create frame animations
    8. Creative Cloud 3D Animation (Preview)
    9. Create timeline animations
    10. Create images for video
  26. Printing
    1. Print 3D objects
    2. Print from Photoshop
    3. Print with color management
    4. Contact Sheets and PDF Presentations
    5. Print photos in a picture package layout
    6. Print spot colors
    7. Print images to a commercial printing press
    8. Improve color prints from Photoshop
    9. Troubleshoot printing problems | Photoshop
  27. Automation
    1. Creating actions
    2. Create data-driven graphics
    3. Scripting
    4. Process a batch of files
    5. Play and manage actions
    6. Add conditional actions
    7. About actions and the Actions panel
    8. Record tools in actions
    9. Add a conditional mode change to an action
    10. Photoshop UI toolkit for plug-ins and scripts
  28. Troubleshooting
    1. Fixed issues 
    2. Known issues
    3. Optimize Photoshop performance
    4. Basic troubleshooting
    5. Troubleshoot crash or freeze
    6. Troubleshoot program errors
    7. Troubleshoot scratch disk full errors
    8. Troubleshoot GPU and graphics driver issues
    9. Find missing tools
    10. Photoshop 3D | Common questions around discontinued features

Use layers in Photoshop to make non-destructive edits by stacking images, text, or vector graphics one on top of the other without mixing the pixels of any of them.  

Topics in this article:

Layers in Photoshop

Use layers to perform tasks such as compositing multiple images, adding text to an image, or adding vector graphic shapes.

You can add layer styles for special effects, such as a drop shadow or a glow, or sharpen objects.

You can also change the opacity of a layer to make the content on it partially transparent. 

Sharp details can make objects in nature photos really stand out. Perform non-destructive edits using layers to highlight the details using the Unsharp Mask filter.
Sharp details can make objects in nature photos really stand out. Perform non-destructive edits using layers to highlight the details using the Unsharp Mask filter.

Use layer groups to organize and manage layers

You usually start with a single layer when working on a new image, and the number of layers, layer effects, and layer sets you can add is limited mostly by your imagination.

Manage and organize layers in the Layers panel, and use groups to arrange them logically and reduce clutter in the panel. You can nest groups and use them to apply attributes and masks to multiple layers simultaneously.

For some great tips for working with layers, see the tutorial video Organize with layers and layer groups.

Perform non-destructive editing using layers

  • Adjustment layers: Make non-destructive adjustments to the colors and tones in your image, and keep editing the adjustment layers without permanently changing the pixels in the image. In short, they give greater control and flexibility over image edits than making direct adjustments. To know more about working with adjustment layers, check out Adjustment and fill layers.
  • Smart objects: Smart objects are layers that contain image data from raster or vector images. They preserve the source content of an image with all its original characteristics, letting you perform nondestructive editing to the layer. To know more about working with smart objects, check out Work with smart objects.

Work with the Layers panel

Use the Layers panel to view, create, and edit layers, layer groups, and layer effects in your image.

Turn on this panel by navigating to Window > Layers or pressing F7. 

Use this menu to create a new or duplicate layer, work with a layer group, convert to a smart object, and add layer effects.

You can also use this menu to adjust the size of the thumbnails. Select the preferred thumbnail and use the right-click option to select the right size. 

Different parts of the Layers panel in Photoshop
A. Layers panel menu, B. Layer filters; C. Layer group; D. Expand, collapse layer effects; E. Layer effects

Change thumbnail contents

Choose panel options from the Layers panel menu, and select Entire Document to display the contents of the entire document. Select Layer Bounds to restrict the thumbnail to the object’s pixels on the layer.


You can also turn off thumbnails to improve performance and save canvas space.

Filter layers

Use the filter options at the top of the Layers panel to locate key layers in complex documents. You can use the given options Kind, Name, Effect, Mode, or Artboard to display a subset of layers.

Follow these steps to use the filter options in the Layers panel.

Filter options in the Layers panel
Filter options in the Layers panel; use the toggle switch to switch between layer filters

  1. Choose a filter type from the pop-up menu.

  2. Select or enter the filter criteria.

  3. Click the toggle switch to switch layer filtering on or off.

Video layers

You can add a video to an image using video layers.

After importing a video clip into an image as a video layer, you can do the following:

  • Mask/transform the layer
  • Apply layer effects
  • Paint on individual frames, or 
  • Rasterize an individual frame and convert it to a standard layer 

Use the Timeline panel to play the video within the image or to access individual frames. See Supported video and image sequence formats.

Create a new layer when brushing

By default, shapes and text are created on a type of layer called a vector layer. No matter how much you zoom in on a vector layer, the edges always remain perfectly crisp.

When you rasterize a vector layer, Photoshop converts the layer to pixels. You might not notice a change at first, but when you zoom in on a newly rasterized layer, you'll see that the edges are now made up of tiny squares, called pixels.

Certain tools like the brush tools, eraser, paint bucket fill, and filters only work on rasterized layers. To use one of these tools on a vector layer, the layer must first be converted to pixels.

Be aware: when you convert a vector layer to pixels, it loses its vector functionality, meaning:

  • Shapes and text can no longer be scaled to any size without some loss of quality.
  • Text is no longer editable, meaning you cannot change the words or the font.

Instead of rasterizing to paint or draw directly on a vector layer, create an empty layer above the vector layer, then use any of the painting or drawing tools on the new layer.

Select the New Layer icon in the Layers panel and then use the Brush Tool to paint on the new layer.

Alternatively, navigating to Preferences > General > Create a new layer when brushing can take care of that automatically. If switched on, when brushing on a layer that cannot be painted on (like a smart object, type, or adjustment layer) or if no layer is active, a new pixel layer will automatically be created in the layer stack, and all brushstrokes will be applied there.

Navigate to Preferences > General > Create a new layer when brushing to turn off the preference to create a layer
Navigate to Preferences > General > Create a new layer when brushing to automatically turn off the preference.

Convert background and Photoshop layers

When creating a new image with a white/colored background, the Background is the starting (bottom-most) layer. An image can have only one Background layer.

Although you can't change the stacking order of the background layer or its blending mode and opacity, you can convert it into a regular layer and then modify its attributes.

When creating a new image with transparent content, the image does not have a background layer. You can move this layer anywhere in the Layers panel and its opacity and blending mode.

Follow these steps to convert the background layer into a regular layer:

  1. Double-click Background in the Layers panel or navigate to Layer > New > Layer From Background.

  2. Set layer options. (See Create layers and groups.)

  3. Select OK.

Follow these steps to convert a regular layer into the background layer:

  1. Select the regular layer in the Layers panel.

  2. Navigate to Layer > New > Background From Layer.

    Any transparent pixels in the layer are converted to the background color and the layer drops to the bottom of the layer stack.


    You cannot create a background by giving a regular layer the name, Background—you must use the Background From Layer command.

Duplicate Photoshop layers

You can duplicate layers within an image or into another or a new image.

Duplicate a Photoshop layer or group within an image

  1. Select a layer or group in the Layers panel.

  2. Do one of the following:

    • Drag the layer or group to the Create a New Layer button.


    • Choose Duplicate Layer or Duplicate Group from the Layers menu or the Layers panel menu. Enter a name for the layer or group and select OK.

Duplicate a Photoshop layer or group in another image

  1. Open the source and destination images.

  2. From the Layers panel of the source image, select one or more layers or a layer group.

  3. Do one of the following:

    • Drag the layer or group from the Layers panel to the destination image.


    • Select the Move tool  and drag from the source image to the destination image. The duplicate layer or group appears above the active layer in the Layers panel of the destination image. Shift-drag to move the image content to the same location it occupied in the source image (if the source and destination images have the same pixel dimensions) or to the center of the document window (if the source and destination images have different pixel dimensions).


    • Choose Duplicate Layer or Duplicate Group from the Layers menu or the Layers panel menu. Choose the destination document from the Document pop‑up menu, and select OK.


    • Choose Select > All to select all the pixels on the layer and then Edit > Copy. Then, navigate to Edit > Paste in the destination image. (This method copies only pixels, excluding layer properties such as blending mode.)

Create a new document from a Photoshop layer or group

  1. Select a layer or group from the Layers panel.

  2. Choose Duplicate Layer or Duplicate Group from the Layers menu or the Layers panel menu.

  3. Choose New from the Document pop‑up menu and select OK.

Sample from all visible Photoshop layers

You can sample or smudge color only from pixels on the active layer using the Mixer Brush, Magic Wand, Smudge, Blur, Sharpen, Paint Bucket, Clone Stamp, and Healing Brush tools. 

To smudge or sample pixels from all visible layers using these tools, select Sample All Layers from the options bar.

Change transparency preferences

  1. Navigate to Edit > Preferences > Transparency & Gamut in Windows and to Photoshop > Preferences > Transparency & Gamut in macOS.

  2. Choose the size and color for the transparency checkerboard or None for Grid Size to hide the transparency checkerboard.

  3. Select OK.

Improvements in the Layers panel

With the latest release of Photoshop, several improvements have been made to the Layers panel to help streamline your workflows and turbocharge your creativity.

Streamlined Layers panel right-click and flyout menus

Use the new and improved Layers panel flyout-out menu and right-click menus like a pro and watch your productivity and efficiency soar.

To turn this preference off, navigate to Preferences > Interface > Show Simplified Right Click And Flyout Menus.

Work with a customizable and streamlined right-click options with the Photoshop November 2023 release

Work faster and easier with new tooltips and videos

Updated in Photoshop 24.6 (June 2023 release)

Hit the play button over the thumbnail image or the Watch quick video button to play them.

It's super convenient for new users to learn Photoshop through short videos embedded in rich tooltips. 


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Adobe MAX 2024

Adobe MAX
The Creativity Conference

Oct 14–16 Miami Beach and online

Adobe MAX

The Creativity Conference

Oct 14–16 Miami Beach and online

Adobe MAX 2024

Adobe MAX
The Creativity Conference

Oct 14–16 Miami Beach and online

Adobe MAX

The Creativity Conference

Oct 14–16 Miami Beach and online