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Photoshop tutorial: Layers part two

Photoshop tutorial: Layers part two - We take a more detailed look at layers and explore the more creative things you can do with them.

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Category : Adobe Photoshop
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Layer opacity

If you adjust the opacity of a layer it will change how much of the layer underneath it shows through. In our example, the top layer of 'grain' is too strong and hides most of the image however, if we reduce the opacity to 25% the effect is more subtle and the original image is more visible. To change the opacity of a layer click on the box which has 100 in it next to Opacity at the top of the layers palette. You can then drag the slider left and right to reduce/increase the opacity of the layer. You can also type in a value into the box if you prefer.

Opacity changes  

Blending options

If you click on the menu which has Normal currently selected you'll see a long drop-down appear with several different options available to you. These are basically different ways you can blend two layers together.

Blend modes

For example, our grain layer did hide the shot of the irons until we changed the blend mode from Normal to Screen.
Blend mode changes

FX menu Photoshop

Layer styles

Layer styles are effects that can be applied to individual layers. These include a variety of textures, frames and lighting effects.

Some of the styles available include:
Drop shadow
Drop shadow
Outer Glow
Outer glow
Bevel
Bevel
Stroke
Stroke

To apply a style to a layer you can click on the fx icon at the bottom of the layers palette or you can double-click on the layer you want to work on to open the Layer Style window.

Once this window's open you can tweak each of the layer styles with the options that appear to the right of the styles list. The options available vary depending on which style you're using. Make sure you have preview ticked so you can see the effect the changes have on your image. You can add other styles to the layer, if you wish, by clicking on one of the other style names to the left of the window.

Layer Style

When you hit OK you'll see the layer style now appear under the layer you've applied it to. If you want to make changes to the style at any point just double-click on the name in the layers palette.

Layer Groups

Layer Groups are a great way to keep yourself and your digital workspace organised. If you're working on an image that has lots and lots of layers, Layer Groups will help you file these individual layers into groups, making your layers palette less cluttered and easier to navigate. They also make it easier to move objects made up of several layers and apply effects to them without changing the rest of the image. They're not something you need to use if you're working with one or two layers but they do make life a lot easier if you've created lots and lots of layers.

To create one, click on the New Group icon or go to Layer>New>Group and a folder will appear in your list of layers called 'Group 1'.

New Group icon

Create a Group
Group created

Double-click on this to rename it as having a whole list of folder groups titled 'group' will just get confusing. To add layers to this group just select them, holding shift will let you select more than one layer at once, and drag them into the group folder or you can select all the layers you want to be grouped together and drag them onto the New Group icon. If you can't see what's inside each group click on the arrow to the left of the folder so it turns from right to pointing down then just click it again to hide the layers away in the folder. Now you have a group, you can move, hide and edit a whole group of layers at once instead of having to click on them individually.

Layer Mask

Layer Mask

Layer Masks are a useful tool as you can use them to hide part of a layer and allow part of the layer underneath to be revealed. You can also use it to make tone/colour corrections to certain parts of the image.

To add a Layer Mask to a layer click on the icon which looks like a circle sat inside a rectangle. If you want to reveal some of the layer that's underneath select the Paint Brush tool, make sure your foreground colour is set to black and paint over the areas you want to bottom layer to appear in. If you've painted in too much of the bottom layer or you've made some changes to the tone/colour you want to remove simply switch the foreground colour to white and paint away.

 

Adjustment Layers

An adjustment layer does the same thing as normal adjustment does however, instead of permanently changing the image an adjustment layer allows you to apply changes to an image without ever changing how the original looks. It also means you can go back in and edit any of the adjustment layers you have created or remove them completely if you no longer want them. To apply an adjustment layer go to Layer>New Adjustment Layer, or click the new adjustment layer icon at the bottom of the layers palette (black & white circle). A drop-down menu of adjustments will appear and you simply click on one to select it.







To see part one of this tutorial click on this link: Photoshop Layers Tutorial Part One.
 
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