In This Chapter
Backgrounds versus layers
Taking a look at the types of layers
Working with the Layers panel and menu
Compositing with multiple layers
Using Elements without the assistance of layers would be like trying to wash your car with a toothbrush and a pail of water instead of with a hose and a power-scrubber brush. Yes, it can be done. But it takes a lot longer and is downright tedious. The benefit to using layers is that you have tremendous flexibility. You can make endless edits as long as those layers exist. You can rearrange their order, and if you decide you don't want them anymore, you simply delete them. Layers make working in Elements a lot more forgiving, allowing you to make changes quickly and productively.
But hey, it's not just the technical and practical aspects that make layers so awesome. Layers also allow you to express your creative side: You can composite several images into one with just a drag of the mouse, for example. This chapter gives you the basics on working with layers. Chapter 2 of this minibook fills in the rest of the details. After you give layers a try, you'll find that they make your image-editing life so much easier. Now, if only they would go out and wash the car.
In terms of a real-world analogy, think of layers as sheets of acetate or transparency ...