How to understand Layers.
As a graphic designer, layers are one of the most fundamental and important
aspects that you must understand. In Photoshop, you can't create graphic
design without layers. Basically, a layer is an independent element; a
part of the design. Great graphic design is a harmony of all of it's
layers (and other effects) made in a deliberate presentation.
It is important to understand that a layer is an independent element.
Many designs may only have a few layers and some designs may have 100 layers or
more (yikes!). A layer can be made up of just about anything.
Visualize your layers palette from an eye-level horizontal view (which
shouldn't be hard for us visual people) where each layer is stacked on top of
the other layers. If you keep creating new layers, you will keep stacking
invisible layers on top of each other. A layer will contain pixel
information after you do such things as create a color fill, drag in a layer or
selection from another image, copy and paste (which creates a layer of that
When you drag in layers from other open documents with the move tool, you are
copying that 'layer' onto the new document and adding that layer to the image.
You can also create layers from selections containing certain pixel information
that you want onto its own layer.
In this image you can count and figure that there are 8 layers including the
2 color fill layers of yellow and maroon. Note that the text/logo layers
must be on top of the construction, color and party people layers in the layers
palette. The main text was rasterized and 3-D transformed and strokes
applied to the logo box and date text. Each of the text 'copy' is on it's
own layer. Remember that layers are the independent elements in any design
so you can work on them separately and move them where you want, change their
order, lower opacity, apply filters, adjustments, transformations, etc. to each
Layers are located in the layers palette. Here you can change their
order, opacity and add layer effects; even create layer sets. The
& Flyer Series
is perfect for understanding layers and how they fit into
real design in Photoshop because you can actually interact with real .psd files
and turn the layers on and off, change their order and start to understand how
important layers are and how they fit into an overall design.
Layer order is an important thing to understand also. A layer's
location in the document is told by it's position in the layers palette.
By dragging a layer's position up or down you can put it further up or down on
that horizontally viewed "stack of layers". Some layers may completely
hide layers beneath it (because the pixel information covers the entire width
and height of the document) so you have to be aware of layer order. You
can also hide layers by clicking on the eyeball to toggle on and off from view.
Layers also have a powerful feature called a layer mask.
This allows you to hide pixels instead of erase them.
- Orion Williams