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. Migrate presets, actions, and settings
    8. Get to know Photoshop
  3. Photoshop and Adobe services
    1. Photoshop and Adobe Stock
    2. Creative Cloud Libraries
    3. Creative Cloud Libraries in Photoshop
    4. Grid and guides
    5. Creating actions
    6. Undo and history
    7. Default keyboard shortcuts
    8. Touch capabilities and customizable workspaces
    9. Use the Touch Bar with Photoshop
    10. Use the Capture in-app extension in Photoshop
  4. Photoshop on the iPad
    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 cloud 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 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. System requirements 1.x | Photoshop on the iPad
    23. System requirements 2.x | Photoshop on the iPad
    24. Edit your image size
    25. Livestream as you create in Photoshop on the iPad
    26. Correct imperfections with the Healing Brush
    27. Create brushes in Capture and use them in Photoshop
  5. Cloud documents
    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 doc sync logs
    8. Share access and edit your cloud documents
  6. Workspace
    1. Workspace basics
    2. Create documents
    3. Use the Touch Bar with Photoshop
    4. Microsoft Dial support in Photoshop
    5. Tool galleries
    6. Performance preferences
    7. Use tools
    8. Touch gestures
    9. Touch capabilities and customizable workspaces
    10. Technology previews
    11. Metadata and notes
    12. Quickly share your creations
    13. Place Photoshop images in other applications
    14. Preferences
    15. Default keyboard shortcuts
    16. Rulers
    17. Show or hide non-printing Extras
    18. Specify columns for an image
    19. Undo and history
    20. Panels and menus
    21. Place files
    22. Position elements with snapping
    23. Position with the Ruler tool
    24. Presets
    25. Customize keyboard shortcuts
    26. Grid and guides
  7. Web, screen, and app design
    1. Photoshop for design
    2. Artboards
    3. Export files in Photoshop
    4. Device Preview
    5. Copy CSS from layers
    6. Slice web pages
    7. HTML options for slices
    8. Modify slice layout
    9. Work with web graphics
    10. Create web photo galleries
  8. 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
  9. 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
    26. Layer
    27. Flattening
    28. Composite
    29. Background
  10. Selections
    1. Select and Mask workspace
    2. Make quick selections
    3. Get started with selections
    4. Select with the marquee tools
    5. Select with the lasso tools
    6. Select a color range in an image
    7. Adjust pixel selections
    8. Convert between paths and selection borders
    9. Channel basics
    10. Move, copy, and delete selected pixels
    11. Create a temporary quick mask
    12. Save selections and alpha channel masks
    13. Select the image areas in focus
    14. Duplicate, split, and merge channels
    15. Channel calculations
    16. Selection
    17. Bounding box
  11. Image adjustments
    1. Perspective warp
    2. Reduce camera shake blurring
    3. Healing brush examples
    4. Export color lookup tables
    5. Adjust image sharpness and blur
    6. Understand color adjustments
    7. Apply a Brightness/Contrast adjustment
    8. Adjust shadow and highlight detail
    9. Levels adjustment
    10. Adjust hue and saturation
    11. Adjust vibrance
    12. Adjust color saturation in image areas
    13. Make quick tonal adjustments
    14. Apply special color effects to images
    15. Enhance your image with color balance adjustments
    16. High dynamic range images
    17. View histograms and pixel values
    18. Match colors in your image
    19. How to crop and straighten photos
    20. Convert a color image to black and white
    21. Adjustment and fill layers
    22. Curves adjustment
    23. Blending modes
    24. Target images for press
    25. Adjust color and tone with Levels and Curves eyedroppers
    26. Adjust HDR exposure and toning
    27. Filter
    28. Blur
    29. Dodge or burn image areas
    30. Make selective color adjustments
    31. Replace object colors
  12. 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. How to make non-destructive edits in Camera Raw
    10. Radial Filter in Camera Raw
    11. Manage Camera Raw settings
    12. Open, process, and save images in Camera Raw
    13. Repair images with the Enhanced Spot Removal tool in Camera Raw
    14. Rotate, crop, and adjust images
    15. Adjust color rendering in Camera Raw
    16. Feature summary | Adobe Camera Raw | 2018 releases
    17. New features summary
    18. Process versions in Camera Raw
    19. Make local adjustments in Camera Raw
  13. 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
  14. Image transformations
    1. Transform objects
    2. Adjust crop, rotation, and canvas size
    3. How to crop and straighten photos
    4. Create and edit panoramic images
    5. Warp images, shapes, and paths
    6. Vanishing Point
    7. Use the Liquify filter
    8. Content-aware scaling
    9. Transform images, shapes, and paths
    10. Warp
    11. Transform
    12. Panorama
  15. 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. Fill and stroke selections, layers, and paths
    14. Draw with the Pen tools
    15. Create patterns
    16. Generate a pattern using the Pattern Maker
    17. Manage paths
    18. Manage pattern libraries and presets
    19. Draw or paint with a graphics tablet
    20. Create textured brushes
    21. Add dynamic elements to brushes
    22. Gradient
    23. Paint stylized strokes with the Art History Brush
    24. Paint with a pattern
    25. Sync presets on multiple devices
  16. Text
    1. Work with OpenType SVG fonts
    2. Format characters
    3. Format paragraphs
    4. How to create type effects
    5. Edit text
    6. Line and character spacing
    7. Arabic and Hebrew type
    8. Fonts
    9. Troubleshoot fonts
    10. Asian type
    11. Create type
    12. Text Engine error using Type tool in Photoshop | Windows 8
    13. World-Ready composer for Asian Scripts
    14. How to add and edit text in Photoshop
  17. 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
  18. Filters and effects
    1. Use the Liquify filter
    2. Use the Blur Gallery
    3. Filter basics
    4. Filter effects reference
    5. Add Lighting Effects
    6. Use the Adaptive Wide Angle filter
    7. Use the Oil Paint filter
    8. Layer effects and styles
    9. Apply specific filters
    10. Smudge image areas
  19. Saving and exporting
    1. Save files in graphics formats
    2. Save your files in Photoshop
    3. File formats
    4. Save and export video and animations
    5. Save PDF files
    6. Digimarc copyright protection
  20. 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. Duotones
    8. Print images to a commercial printing press
    9. Improve color prints from Photoshop
    10. Troubleshoot printing problems | Photoshop
  21. 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
  22. 3D and technical imaging
    1. Creative Cloud 3D Animation (Preview)
    2. Print 3D objects
    3. 3D painting
    4. 3D panel enhancements | Photoshop
    5. Essential 3D concepts and tools
    6. 3D rendering and saving
    7. Create 3D objects and animations
    8. Image stacks
    9. 3D workflow
    10. Measurement
    11. DICOM files
    12. Photoshop and MATLAB
    13. Count objects in an image
    14. Combine and convert 3D objects
    15. 3D texture editing
    16. Adjust HDR exposure and toning
    17. 3D panel settings
  23. Color Management
    1. Understanding color management
    2. Keeping colors consistent
    3. Color settings
    4. Work with color profiles
    5. Color-managing documents for online viewing
    6. Color-managing documents when printing
    7. Color-managing imported images
    8. Proofing colors

About Photoshop layers

Photoshop layers are like sheets of stacked acetate. You can see through transparent areas of a layer to the layers below. You move a layer to position the content on the layer, like sliding a sheet of acetate in a stack. You can also change the opacity of a layer to make content partially transparent.

Photoshop layers representation
Transparent areas on a layer let you see layers below.

You use layers to perform tasks such as compositing multiple images, adding text to an image, or adding vector graphic shapes. You can apply a layer style to add a special effect such as a drop shadow or a glow.

Organizing Photoshop layers

A new image has a single layer. The number of additional layers, layer effects, and layer sets you can add to an image is limited only by your computer’s memory.

You work with layers in the Layers panel. Layer groups help you organize and manage layers. You can use groups to arrange your layers in a logical order and to reduce clutter in the Layers panel. You can nest groups within other groups. You can also use groups 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.

Photoshop layers for non-destructive editing

Sometimes layers don’t contain any apparent content. For example, an adjustment layer holds color or tonal adjustments that affect the layers below it. Rather than edit image pixels directly, you can edit an adjustment layer and leave the underlying pixels unchanged.

A special type of layer, called a Smart Object, contains one or more layers of content. You can transform (scale, skew, or reshape) a Smart Object without directly editing image pixels. Or, you can edit the Smart Object as a separate image even after placing it in a Photoshop image. Smart Objects can also contain smart filter effects, which allow you to apply filters non-destructively to images so that you can later tweak or remove the filter effect. See Nondestructive editing and Work with Smart Objects.

Video layers

You can use video layers to add video to an image. After importing a video clip into an image as a video layer, you can mask the layer, transform it, 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.

Photoshop Layers panel overview

The Layers panel in Photoshop lists all layers, layer groups, and layer effects in an image. You can use the Layers panel to show and hide layers, create new layers, and work with groups of layers. You can access additional commands and options in the Layers panel menu.

Photoshop layers panel
Photoshop Layers panel

A. Layers panel menu B. Filter C. Layer Group D. Layer E. Expand/Collapse Layer effects F. Layer effect G. Layer thumbnail 

Display the Photoshop Layers panel

  1. Choose Window > Layers.

Choose a command from the Photoshop Layers panel menu

  1. Click the triangle in the upper-right corner of the panel.

Change the size of Photoshop layer thumbnails

  1. Choose Panel Options from the Layers panel menu, and select a thumbnail size.

Change thumbnail contents

  1. 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.

    Note:

    Turn off thumbnails to improve performance and save monitor space.

Expand and collapse groups

  1. Click the triangle to the left of a group folder. See View layers and groups within a group.

Filter Photoshop layers

At the top of the Layers panel, the filtering options help you find key layers in complex documents quickly. You can display a subset of layers based on name, kind, effect, mode, attribute, or color label.

Filter layers options in the Photoshop Layers panel
Filter layers options in the Layers panel

  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.

Convert background and Photoshop layers

When you create a new image with a white background or a colored background, the bottommost image in the Layers panel is called Background. An image can have only one background layer. You cannot change the stacking order of a background layer, its blending mode, or its opacity. However, you can convert a background into a regular layer, and then change any of these attributes.

When you create a new image with transparent content, the image does not have a background layer. The bottommost layer is not constrained like the background layer; you can move it anywhere in the Layers panel and change its opacity and blending mode.

Convert a background into a Photoshop layer

  1. Double-click Background in the Layers panel, or choose Layer > New > Layer From Background.

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

  3. Click OK.

Convert a Photoshop layer into a background

  1. Select a Photoshop layer in the Layers panel.

  2. Choose 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.

    Note:

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

Video tutorial: Turn the background layer into a regular layer

Scott Kelby

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 click 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 click OK.

    • Choose Select > All to select all the pixels on the layer, and choose Edit > Copy. Then choose 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 click OK.

Sample from all visible Photoshop layers

The default behavior of the Mixer Brush, Magic Wand, Smudge, Blur, Sharpen, Paint Bucket, Clone Stamp, and Healing Brush tools is to sample color only from pixels on the active layer. This means you can smudge or sample in a single layer.

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

Change transparency preferences

  1. In Windows, choose Edit > Preferences > Transparency & Gamut; in Mac OS, choose Photoshop > Preferences > Transparency & Gamut.
  2. Choose a size and color for the transparency checkerboard, or choose None for Grid Size to hide the transparency checkerboard.
  3. Click OK.
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