Chapter 10. All about Layers

IN THIS CHAPTER

  • The Layer menus

  • The Layers panel

  • Adding layers

  • Adding layer effects

  • Masks

When you open an image in Photoshop for the first time, that image is one layer, just as if you'd laid a photo out on a table. When you add things to that image such as text or another image, think of it as putting a transparency containing those items over the original image. Rather than destroying the integrity of the image, you are simply adding layers to it to change the way it looks. That's exactly how the Layers panel works. You can keep stacking up the layers to change the way your image looks, and those layers don't have to contain objects; they can be composed of a filter or style. Meanwhile, your original image is still available to you in its original, unaltered state.

That's the basics, anyway. Of course, because this is the digital world of Photoshop, a great idea has gotten so much better over time. Everything from changing the settings of filters that were added months ago to animating is all part of the Layers panel in Photoshop CS5, and having a good, solid understanding of how it all works is essential to your Photoshop success.

A basic understanding of the Layers panel including the icons and menu options is a good place to start. Then I show the different kinds of layers you can add. I end the chapter by showing you everything you need to know about layer masks. After you've been introduced to the Layers panel, you'll be ready to get into the meat of ...

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