Layers are the fundamental building blocks in Photoshop. They are pretty much what they sound like – effects or images stacked upon one another. Imagine them as layers of acrylic stacked upon each other. Some layers may be transparent, some may be opaque, and some in-between. When you look down at your stack from the top, you will see your composite creation.
It is important to remember that a layer will only affect the layers below it.
The Layers palette in Photoshop is where you will create and keep track of your layers. When you open your photo, it will show up as the Background layer.
There are several different types of layers you can create. By far, for photo editing, I use adjustment layers the most. Examples of adjustment layers include Curves, Levels, Hue/Saturation, and Brightness/Contrast, just to name a few. To create a new adjustment layer, click on the half black/half white circle at the bottom of the Layers palette and choose the type of adjustment layer you want to create. (In the example below, I created a Curves adjustment layer)
To create a new blank layer, click on the icon that looks like a square with an upturned corner.
To turn the visibility of a layer off/on, simply click the eyeball icon for that layer.
To adjust the opacity of a layer, type in a new value or use the slider in the Opacity box:
To delete a layer, simply highlight the layer and do one of the following:
1. Hit the ‘Delete’ key on your keyboard
2. Click on the trashcan icon at the bottom of the layers palette
3. Drag the layer to the trashcan
To duplicate a layer, highlight the layer and do one of the following:
1. Hit Ctrl/Cmd + J on your keyboard
2. Drag the layer to the “Create a new layer” icon (the square with upturned corner) – this will duplicate the layer
Blending modes are a topic for another day, but by default the layer will be set to ‘Normal.’ However, if you want to change this, a list of blending modes are available in the dropdown.
To rename a layer, simply double click on the name and give it a new one.
I hope this was helpful! As always, any feedback is much appreciated!