The use of layers is one of the most important concepts you can learn in Photoshop. Layers are the key to building a nondestructive workflow because they enable you to isolate important image components so that you can edit each independently of the rest of the image.

Because the use of layers is central to many of the following chapters, this is one of the most important chapters in this book. I suggest you take time to read it and review each exercise so that when you encounter advanced projects later in this book you'll be prepared to get the most from them.

What Are Layers?

Think about music for a moment. When a band is in a studio recording a song, a sound engineer records each singer and instrument individually on separate sound tracks. In fact, vocals and instruments often are recorded at different times with different musicians in attendance.

Sometimes, multiple recordings of the same vocalist or instrument are overlaid to create the sound the album's producer wants to create. No one really knows what the song sounds like until all the pieces are blended together on a mixing board and played back as a single musical work.

All these separate tracks give the producer a tremendous amount of creative control. If he doesn't like the way a particular instrument sounds, he can modify it — or even toss it out and re-create it — without ...

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