Chapter: Internet & World Wide Web HOW TO PROGRAM - Photoshop Elements

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Layers - Photoshop Elements

One of the most important features of Photoshop Elements is the ability to edit images in layers.


One of the most important features of Photoshop Elements is the ability to edit images in layers. Any image can be composed of many layers, each with its own attributes and ef-fects. Each element of an image can be moved and edited independently if kept in its own layer. Layers are sometimes complicated; however, they ultimately save time in the overall process. The concept of layers is somewhat like animation cells. An animator uses separate layers of transparencies to create a scene so that each item can be edited individually.

Photoshop Elements has three categories of layers: vector, raster and adjustment. Each object on a vector layer is an independent element that is stored as a set of proper-ties. Raster layers exist as a grid of colored pixels. Editing elements in raster layers affects all other parts of that layer. Open the file arches.psd located in the Chapter 3 examples directory on the CD-ROM that accompanies this book. This file shows the dif-ferent types of layers.

This file has several different layers which can be seen individually in the Layers pal-ette. The layers are arranged hierarchically, with the uppermost layer at the top of the list. The active layer is highlighted in blue (Fig. 3.41).

Click the New Layer button in the Layers palette to create a new raster layer. Only raster layers are created with the New Layer button. Vector layers are created when a vector tool such as the type or shape tool is used. The difference in the ways vector and raster information is stored prevents these two types of graphics from existing on the same layer.

Each layer occupies one row in the palette. A row displays that layer’s name, its posi-tion relative to other layers and several properties that modify the function of the layer. It is a good idea to name each layer for the objects it contains to make it easier to remember what layers effect what images. Select the Arrange submenu from the Layers menu to move a layer up or down in the hierarchy. Layers also can be dragged up or down in the hierarchy inside the Layers palette.


The background layer is always a raster layer anchored to the bottom of the image. The layer order, color blending mode and opacity cannot be changed on the background layer. Convert the background layer into a regular raster layer by double clicking Background in the Layers palette. The displayed dialog provides the option of renaming the layer. Renaming a background layer converts it to an independent raster layer. Files with trans-parent backgrounds do not have background layers. Instead the bottommost layer is an independent raster layer named Layer 1.


The layer opacity is the measure of a layer’s transparency, given as a percentage. The Bug layer in arches.psd (Fig. 3.41) has an opacity of 70% making the layer beneath it visible through the bug. An opacity of 0% makes the layer completely transparent.


The color blending mode determines how a layer is affected by painting or editing tools. The blending mode for the Sun layer in arches.psd is set to Hard Light, affecting the image in the Sun layer as if a spotlight were pointed at it. There are several blending modes from which to choose. Select the Sun layer from the Layers palette. Try applying different blending modes by changing the selection in the blending modes drop-down list in the Layers palette, and note the varying effects.

Adjustment Layers allow color adjustments to be made to the layer beneath it without affecting color in the other layers. An adjustment layer acts as a preview of what a particular adjustment would look like if directly applied to a layer, without making any permanent changes. Select the background layer in the Layers palette for the arches.psd file. Create an adjustment layer by clicking the New Adjustment Layer button (Fig. 3.42). The new adjustment layer is placed directly above the selected layer.

When the New Adjustment Layer button is pressed a menu opens allowing the user to choose the type of adjustment. Choose Hue/Saturation from this menu to open the Hue/Saturation dialog. Change the hue to +121 and the saturation to +45, then click OK to apply the adjustment to the background layer. Notice that the adjustment only affects the background layer. If the visibility of an adjustment layer is turned off, the layers beneath appear as if no changes were made.



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