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 stuff while the file is still open, but once you close it, you’re stuck with what you’ve done.

In Elements, you can keep your changes (most kinds, anyway) and still revert to the original image if you use layers, a nifty system of transparent sheets that keeps each component of your image on a separate sliver that you can edit. Layers are one of the greatest image-editing inventions ever. By putting each change you make on its own layer, you can rearrange your image’s composition and add or subtract changes whenever you want.

If you use layers, then you can save your file and quit Elements, 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 using layers.

Some people resist learning about layers because they fear layers are too complicated. But actually, they’re really 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 info you need to get comfortable working with layers.


If you’ve used Elements before, one of the biggest new features in Elements 9 is the ability to add layer masks to any layer, not just to Adjustment layers. ...

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