Home / Layers

One of the most important things to get your head around when beginning to use Photoshop..

Last Update: 30th April 2015


When your new to Photoshopping, some of the hardest bits to grasp are layers! So lets take a look at how they work.

The layers box is found in the bottom right hand corner of the screen, and should look something like this:


Layers, like the name suggests, are a way to keep parts of images separate from each other. So in the example on the left, we can see 4 layers. You can think of the layers palette as a way of managing a collage. A picture from a magazine might be in a layer, a clipping from a newspaper in another and some typewritten text in a third. Layers allow you layout these parts in a collage without having them interfere with each other.


<The order of the layers are background, 1, 2 and 3. (3 been on top).


Each of the layers can be moved about (using the move tool) and positioned and edited separately from the main image.


Also there is the ability to switch between the layers for different parts of the image (say we have the wheels in layer 2). All you need to do it click on the relevant layer. To hide the layers, click on the small eye icon to the left of the layer boxes.

You can flatten the layers using Ctrl+Shift+E. A new layer is created when you paste something on, so be aware of this!

Usually if your trying to edit a section of the picture and it wont work, it is in a different layer to the one currently selected.

Most of the time you're working in Photoshop, you're in one layer. This is what the layers palette calls the background. It's always there and you can't remove it.

When you first make a layer, it is completely empty. It is not filled with white like the background, but it is transparent. Photoshop denotes transparency with a checkerboard pattern. If you hide the background, notice that layer 1 really is empty!

The key point here is that erasing and deleting in layers erases and deletes to transparency, not to the background colour. So, whatever is on layers underneath will peek through.


That's it.. have fun!


Additional tips
To rename a layer or layer set - Double-click the layer or layer set's name in the Layers palette, and enter a new name.
- Color coding layers and layer sets makes it easier to locate related layers in the Layers palette. Press Alt and double-click the layer or layer set's name in the Layers palette. Then choose a color from the Color pop-up menu, and click OK.

- You cannot use the painting tools or filters on layers that contain vector data (such as type layers, shape layers, and vector masks) and generated data (such as fill layers). However, you can rasterize these layers to convert their contents into a flat, raster image. You can easily rasterize it by right clicking the layer in the layers box and selecting rasterize.

- To delete a layer, right-click the layer in the layers box and select delete.