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Photoshop Elements 3: The Missing Manual by Barbara Brundage

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Chapter 6. Layers: The Heart of Elements

If you’ve been working mostly in the Quick Fix window so far, you’ve probably noticed that once you close your file, the changes you’ve made are permanent. You can undo actions while the file’s still open, but once you close it, you’re stuck with what you’ve done.

Well, in Elements, you can keep your changes and still revert to the original image if you use layers, a nifty system of transparent sheets that keep each element of your image on a separately editable sliver. Layers are one of the greatest image-editing inventions ever. By putting each change you make on its own layer, you can constantly rearrange the composition of your image, or add and subtract changes whenever you want.

If you use layers, you can save your file and quit Elements and come back days or weeks later and still undo what you did or change things around some more. There’s no statute of limitations for the changes you make when using layers.

Some people resist learning about layers because they fear they’re too complicated. But they’re actually very easy to use once you understand how they work. And once you get started with layers, you’ll realize that using Elements without them is like driving a Ferrari in first gear. This chapter gives you the information you need to get comfortable working with layers.

Understanding Layers

Layers aren’t that complicated, but it may help to first think about an example from the real world to understand how they work. Imagine you’ve ...

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