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Layer Basics

Rearranging layers

The order in which the layers of an image are organized is called the stacking order. The stacking order determines how the image is viewed—you can change the order to make certain parts of the image appear in front of or behind other layers.

You’ll rearrange the layers so that the beach image is in front of another image that is currently hidden in the file.

  1. Make the Postage, HAWAII, Flower, Pineapple, and Background layers visible by clicking the Show/Hide Visibility column next to their layer names.

    The beach image is almost entirely blocked by images on other layers.

  2. In the Layers panel, drag the Beach layer up so that it is positioned between the Pineapple and Flower layers—when you’ve positioned it correctly, you’ll see a thick line between the layers in the panel—and then release the mouse button.

The Beach layer moves up one level in the stacking order, and the beach image appears on top of the pineapple and background images but under the postage, flower, and the word “HAWAII.”

Changing the opacity of a layer

You can reduce the opacity of any layer to reveal the layers below it. In this case, the postmark is too dark on the flower. You’ll edit the opacity of the Postage layer to let the flower and other images show through.

  1. Select the Postage layer, and then click the arrow next to the Opacity field to display the Opacity slider. Drag the slider to 25%. You can also type 25 in the Opacity box or scrub the Opacity label.

    The Postage layer becomes partially transparent, so you can better see the layers underneath. Notice that the change in opacity affects only the image area of the Postage layer. The Pineapple, Beach, Flower, and HAWAII layers remain opaque.

  2. Choose File > Save to save your work.

Duplicating a layer and changing the blending mode

You can apply different blending modes to a layer. Blending modes affect how the color pixels on one layer blend with pixels on the layers underneath. First you’ll use blending modes to increase the intensity of the image on the Pineapple layer so that it doesn’t look so dull. Then you’ll change the blending mode on the Postage layer. (Currently, the blending mode for both layers is Normal.)

  1. Click the eye icons next to the HAWAII, Flower, and Beach layers to hide them.

  2. Right-click or Control-click the Pineapple layer, and choose Duplicate Layer from the context menu. (Make sure you click the layer name, not its thumbnail, or you’ll see the wrong context menu.) Click OK in the Duplicate Layer dialog box.

    A layer called “Pineapple copy” appears above the Pineapple layer in the Layers panel.

  3. With the Pineapple copy layer selected, choose Overlay from the Blending Modes menu in the Layers panel.

    The Overlay blending mode blends the Pineapple copy layer with the Pineapple layer beneath it to create a vibrant, more colorful pineapple with deeper shadows and brighter highlights.

  4. Select the Postage layer, and choose Multiply from the Blending Modes menu.

    The Multiply blending mode multiplies the colors in the underlying layers with the color in the top layer. In this case, the postmark becomes a little stronger.

  5. Choose File > Save to save your work.

Resizing and rotating layers

You can resize and transform layers.

  1. Click the Visibility column on the Beach layer to make the layer visible.

  2. Select the Beach layer in the Layers panel, and choose Edit > Free Transform.

    A Transform bounding box appears around the beach image. The bounding box has handles on each corner and each side.

    First, you’ll resize and angle the layer.

  3. Press Shift as you drag a corner handle inward to scale the beach photo down by about 50%. (Watch the Width and Height percentages in the options bar.)

  4. With the bounding box still active, position the pointer just outside one of the corner handles until it becomes a curved double arrow. Drag clockwise to rotate the beach image approximately 15 degrees. You can also enter 15 in the Set Rotation box in the options bar.

  5. Click the Commit Transform button (04_commit.jpg) in the options bar.

  6. Make the Flower layer visible. Then, select the Move tool (04_move.jpg), and drag the beach photo so that its corner is tucked neatly beneath the flower, as in the illustration.

  7. Choose File > Save.

    04fig18.jpg

Using a filter to create artwork

Next, you’ll create a new layer with no artwork on it. (Adding empty layers to a file is comparable to adding blank sheets of film to a stack of images.) You’ll use this layer to add realistic-looking clouds to the sky with a Photoshop filter.

  1. In the Layers panel, select the Background layer to make it active, and then click the Create A New Layer button (04_new.jpg) at the bottom of the Layers panel.

    A new layer, named Layer 1, appears between the Background and Pineapple layers. The layer has no content, so it has no effect on the image.

  2. Double-click the name Layer 1, type Clouds, and press Enter or Return to rename the layer.

  3. In the Tools panel, click the foreground color swatch, select a sky blue color from the Color Picker, and click OK. We selected a color with the following values: R=48, G=138, B=174. The Background Color remains white.

    04fig20.jpg
  4. With the Clouds layer still active, choose Filter > Render > Clouds.

    Realistic-looking clouds appear behind the image.

  5. Choose File > Save.

Dragging to add a new layer

You can add a layer to an image by dragging an image file from the desktop, Bridge, or Explorer (Windows) or the Finder (Mac). You’ll add another flower to the postcard now.

  1. If Photoshop fills your monitor, reduce the size of the Photoshop window:

    • In Windows, click the Restore button (04_restore.jpg) in the upper right corner, and then drag the lower right corner of the Photoshop window to make it smaller.

    • In Mac, click the green Maximize/Restore button (04_maxi.jpg) in the upper left corner of the image window.

  2. In Photoshop, select the Pineapple copy layer in the Layers panel to make it the active layer.

  3. In Explorer (Windows) or the Finder (Mac), navigate to the Lessons folder you downloaded from the peachpit.com website. Then navigate to the Lesson04 folder.

  4. Select Flower2.psd, and drag it from Explorer or the Finder onto your image.

    The Flower2 layer appears in the Layers panel, directly above the Pineapple copy layer. Photoshop places the image as a Smart Object, which is a layer you can edit without making permanent changes. You’ll work more extensively with Smart Objects in Lesson 8.

  5. Position the Flower2 layer in the lower left corner of the postcard, so that about half of the top flower is visible.

  6. Click the Commit Transform button (04_commit.jpg) in the options bar to accept the layer.

Adding text

Now you’re ready to create some type using the Horizontal Type tool, which places the text on its own type layer. You’ll then edit the text and apply a special effect.

  1. Make the HAWAII layer visible. You’ll add text just below this layer, and apply special effects to both layers.

  2. Choose Select > Deselect Layers, so that no layers are selected.

  3. In the Tools panel, select the Horizontal Type tool (04_hori.jpg). Then, choose Window > Character to open the Character panel. Do the following in the Character panel:

    • Select a serif font (we used Birch Std; if you use a different font, adjust other settings accordingly).

    • Select a font style (we used Regular).

    • Select a large font size (we used 36 points).

    • Select a large tracking value (04_char.jpg) (we used 250).

    • Click the color swatch, select a shade of grassy green in the Color Picker, and click OK to close the Color Picker.

    • Click the Faux Bold button (04_char_faux.jpg).

    • Click the All Caps button (04_char_all.jpg).

    • Select Crisp from the Anti-aliasing menu (04_char_anti.jpg).

    04fig25.jpg
  4. Click just below the “H” in the word “HAWAII,” and type Island Paradise. Then click the Commit Any Current Edits button (04_commit.jpg) in the options bar.

    The Layers panel now includes a layer named Island Paradise with a “T” thumbnail, indicating that it is a type layer. This layer is at the top of the layer stack.

    The text appears where you clicked, which probably isn’t exactly where you want it to be positioned.

  5. Select the Move tool (04_move.jpg), and drag the “Island Paradise” text so that it is centered below “HAWAII.”

5. Applying a gradient to a layer | Next Section Previous Section

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