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Photoshop Layers - interactive tutorial - new idea


Pete 20 18.8k 97 England
10 May 2010 4:56PM
I just asked on the ePHOTOzine Facebook group if anyone is having trouble grasping any aspect of photography and the first one that was posted is Layers. So as we already have loads of tutorials that include layers I figure that's not the easiest way to explain so I thought I'd try a totally new approach.

I will use this forum to build up the tutorial with questions as we go. I'm not sure if it will work, but here goes. I will provide a small amount of information as a step/stage and then give time for questions to be asked so people can understand each step/stage

First thing first - a layer is like a sheet of glass added on top of the photo. The glass (let's call it layer) could have some other bits of photo on it, or some special treatment (filters) that affects the layers below.

Any questions so far?
steve_kershaw 16 2.3k 4 United Kingdom
10 May 2010 5:08PM
once you have a layer with the bitts changed, how do you make this part of your photo?
Pete 20 18.8k 97 England
10 May 2010 5:10PM

Quote:Once you have a layer with the bitts changed, how do you make this part of your photo?

That's a few steps away...I'm not sure if this will work.
roxpix 17 2.2k 11 Scotland
10 May 2010 5:22PM
Stick with it Pete
I think it was just the opening post that needed a little more outline re your intention
Also a little more than 1&1/2 lines per step/post on the technique might be needed or this will take forever Wink
bigsean 13 164 Wales
10 May 2010 5:23PM

Quote:Once you have a layer with the bitts changed, how do you make this part of your photo?
That's a few steps away...I'm not sure if this will work.



Have a bit of Faith Pete! Small steps and in the correct order and people will grasp it. You have to find your target audience first trying to get it to fit all members will never work. good idea though.
Pete 20 18.8k 97 England
10 May 2010 5:50PM

Quote:Stick with it Pete
I think it was just the opening post that needed a little more outline re your intention


Good point ok, I've expanded the first post a little to give an idea of the intention.
And in this post I'll add a photo created using layers and one I'll use to explain the process. I want to do it slowly in steps to give people ample chance to step in and ask questions.

So here's the photo.

layers-finish.jpg


It's a photo comprising five layers in total
Portrait of a boy
Photoshop created space background
Toy figure
Fairground sculpture robot (used twice - one flipped)
roxpix 17 2.2k 11 Scotland
10 May 2010 9:05PM
Thanks for persevering

OK I'm with you so far (not kidding here I've always wanted to learn layers processing)

Two or more layers to be used to make a composite image like your example
Pete 20 18.8k 97 England
10 May 2010 9:40PM
Ok, so first we open up one of the images. I'll start with the background scene.

backgorund-image.jpg


Notice that the image is called background in the layer palette. The first layer is always automatically called background.

For info the space scene was a black canvas with random dots added to give a dense star effect and then lens flare was added to give the sci-fi solar effect.

Any questions from anyone yet please?
10 May 2010 9:57PM
Pete, is it important which image you set as the background ? does it affect blending and so ?
roxpix 17 2.2k 11 Scotland
10 May 2010 9:58PM
ok, got that
I eventually found the layer pallette under the 'Window' menu in photoshop for anyone who's looking
Pete 20 18.8k 97 England
10 May 2010 10:33PM

Quote:Pete, is it important which image you set as the background? does it affect blending and so ?

Yes which image you use as background image will affect how the blending works. I'll show you in a while. In my example when I copy and paste the next layer in to the shot it is automatically assigned to be layer 1.

The screengrab below now shows the layers palette has background and layer 1.

firstlayer.jpg


If the object in layer you paste in is too big you can use the edit>transform>scale option to resize it. To see the edges of the frame you may need to make the photo smaller on the canvas. Do this using ctrl and - keys. And drag the corner handle inwards to make the object smaller. Hold down on the shift key so it resizes in proportion.


Quote:I eventually found the layer palette under the 'Window' menu in photoshop for anyone who's looking

Whoops these are the type of things tutorial writers forget, because they have the layers palette always on display. As Alan says it's in the Windows menu, or quick way is to press the F7 key on the top row of your keyboard. Press once to open and again to hide.

So we now have the background layer, and a new object. This was cut out of another photo using the lasso tool. You will see that doing this has given it a chequered pattern where the background used to be. This is to indicate transparency (or clear). When it lands on the background layer, the background shows through in the transparent, clear area.

We have added our first sheet of glass with an object on it. So Photoshop is seeing this as two layers. One on top of the other. In the layers palette they are arranged in the order they are stacked, from bottom to top.
roxpix 17 2.2k 11 Scotland
11 May 2010 8:23AM
Ok still with you, so far what we have done is to simply copy/paste an item from one file onto another file (much like pasting a paragraph of text from one word doc onto an another word doc)
Pete 20 18.8k 97 England
11 May 2010 9:17AM
Yes, but with a text file the new text lands on the same layer/page as the old text when pasted. So If you selected the page and changed the font it would all change (unless you highlighted just a specific portion). Here, because it's on a new layer, you can do anything to that one layer without affecting the other layer/s.

floating-layer.jpg


Now, if there was no transparency you wouldn't see the layer below at all, and that's where the important blend modes come in. They allow certain areas / ranges of pixels of the upper layer to react / blend with the layer below.

I've marked arrows on the screengrab below to indicate which part of the layer palette controls which layer.

layers-explained.jpg


Notice the background layer in the palette is blue (or the colour of your desktop set up). That indicates it's currently the active layer. If you click anywhere in that area of Layer 1 it will go blue and become active. When a layer is active you have control of the blend modes (the stuff inside the circled red area). So why is the info in the circle greyed out? That's because the background layer is not a true floating layer. To make it like this you have to double click on it and give it a name. A none floating layer will have its title in italics.
roxpix 17 2.2k 11 Scotland
11 May 2010 10:00AM
Ok still following you (btw it will only go blue if you happen to have that colour profile set in your desktop appearence settings, otherwise it will go another colour Wink)

So I have two layers that can still be edited independently of each other using the normal menus top left and blended using the options you've highlighted
Q. Can/would you blend from the base layer up or always from top layer down?
Pete 20 18.8k 97 England
11 May 2010 10:45AM

Quote:Ok still following you (btw it will only go blue if you happen to have that colour profile set in your desktop appearence settings, otherwise it will go another colour Wink)

Thanks I always use default. I've reworded.


Quote:So I have two layers that can still be edited independently of each other using the normal menus top left and blended using the options you've highlighted

Yes but only fully when the bottom (background layer) is made active.

Quote:Q. Can/would you blend from the base layer up or always from top layer down?

This is what Koen also asked earlier and now time to cover.
You don't blend upwards, but you can switch layers so in this case the background layer would be the upper layer and you could then apply a blend mode for it to affect it's reaction with the layer below.

Here is the original arrangement with the background now made active as the background and called Layer 0. Notice how the areas that are transparent let the background show through.

background-layer1.jpg


And with the background moved to the top. Do this by clicking on a layer and while holding the mouse down drag it to the upper position in the layers palette. Notice that it has no transparent areas so none of the image below shows through.

layer1-background.jpg


There are 25 blend modes each with subtle or strong differences. Many books and guides explain the differences of each one and how the pixels react when a specific blend mode is used. The best way to get used to these is to take put two layers together llike this and try each one. You see what it will look like as you select a new blend mode. First skim through them all on upper layer, then move the background layer to the top and do the same again on this new top layer. Certain blend modes will become favourites. The blend mode you use can depend on the subject.

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