by Caleb Goellner

How to Become Friends With Photoshop Layers

Every journey begins with a single step, and the path toward mastering Adobe Photoshop is no different. One step that can be an unfamiliar zone for beginner Photoshoppers is layers, but it’s very important to understand how to use them if you want to composite perfect images. Layers are your friend, for they make editing as simple as stacking.

Have you ever created something then decided that you don’t like what you did and end up hitting "undo" a million times? Using a layer is a lot like accessing a creative lifeline. Layers mean you don’t need to undo all of your work when something doesn’t look or feel right. You simply need to get into that layer to make one change, while everything else remains the same.

All editing will be done in new layers. If you decide you aren’t happy with something, you can easily delete the layer or “edit”. Left click on the layer, then select “Delete Layer.”

As a beginner, it’s a great idea to create a new layer any time you make an edit. For example, if you enhance the sky and remove a bird, the edits should be made on a layer other than your original. Decide to add an airplane to the sky? Open up the airplane image in a new layer, all to its own.

Things can get messy with layers real quick. They can start to fill up your “layer palette” which is in the bottom right of your screen. To keep things organized, name each layer with what it is (i.e. airplane). Just double click on the image’s defaulted title and type in your desired title.

Last tip, save as! Always “save as” your image during the process so you can reference the original. Hint: Save the files as.psd or .tiff, do not save images from Photoshop as a .jpg, this will merge all of your layers together.

For more great insight, follow these tips from Adobe on managing layers.

Have some fun, play around; making mistakes is no big deal with Photoshop layers.

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