Introduction to Adobe Photoshops layers

An introduction to Adobe Photoshops layer system

Photoshop. Seems complicated. Can actually be complicated. Let's un-de-complicated it. Yeah...

We must go deeper...
Hello and welcome to another blog here on the Tri Pod!
This week we’re gonna explore the layer system in Adobe Photoshop. I will cover all the tools, adjustment layers, masks, channels, paths, LUTs, properties, extensions, blending modes, export option, smart objects, layer styles and the banana tool in future additions of this thing that I do. For now let’s stick to just layers, that should be loads to begin!
The cake is not a lie.
As you can probably tell by that cake diagram these blogs have a huge budget.
Layers, as the name implies, build up to make your final image. I know I just said they’re like the layers of a cake, but it may not be accurate to think of them as the 3D parts of a cake. Instead try to think of each layer like a page being placed on top of another page. This principle is important as it gives the layers their incredible power and versatility. Some of the pages are normal A4, some of them are transparent plastic pages, others could be coloured craft paper or tracing paper to achieve certain effects. Let’s try keep these analogies and expand on them.
The Layers panel with some examples of the above anologies
The ‘A4’, ‘Plastic’,’Craft’ and ‘Colour’ paper shown here. The layer top of the list is the top of your pile of paper. Stop me if I’m going too fast…
  • A4 Page aka Solid Colour Layer: This is a layer filled with a solid colour. An A4 page would obviously be white, but you could make this hold any colour, or any amount of colours. Even thousands of pixels to make up a photograph.
  • Plastic Page aka Pixel Layer: That check pattern in Photoshop indicates that layer is transparent, like a sheet of plastic. You could draw on this with a marker or pen and it wouldn’t affect or damage the A4 page below, but you can still see what you’ve drawn. Pixel layers are the base for almost every layer.
  • Craft Paper and Colour Paper aka Adjustment Layers: Just like in arts and crafts! You could place craft paper, coloured plastics or colour paper cutouts over your A4 page to achieve certain effects. For example, if you wanted to turn something on the page yellow you would put a thin layer of yellow over it. A ‘Photo Filter’ works very similar to that inside photoshop.
I've left out the 'link' button left of number 3 because I've never had to use it and doubt you will either!
And that’s basically it for the basics of the layers panel basics. You can now basically operate layers, basically!

Breathe. It's over.

Some of the subjects we cover can be quite broad so don’t forget to tune into the podcast and watch our videos for more!
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Thanks for reading!

Ronan Harding Downes

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