Layers and Layer Masks 101 for photographers in Adobe Photoshop - A Graphic Design for Lunch™ Class | Helen Bradley | Skillshare

Layers and Layer Masks 101 for photographers in Adobe Photoshop - A Graphic Design for Lunch™ Class

Helen Bradley, Graphic Design for Lunch™

Layers and Layer Masks 101 for photographers in Adobe Photoshop - A Graphic Design for Lunch™ Class

Helen Bradley, Graphic Design for Lunch™

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8 Lessons (34m)
    • 1. Layers and Masks 101 in Photoshop - Introduction

      1:30
    • 2. Pt 1 - Duplicate Layers and Blend Modes

      5:44
    • 3. Pt 2 - Screen and Overlay Blend Modes

      3:38
    • 4. Pt 3 - Blend with a Mask

      6:18
    • 5. Pt 4 - Fixing Blemishes

      4:48
    • 6. Pt 5 - Blend with Texture

      5:30
    • 7. Pt 6 - Adjustment Layers and Masks

      4:52
    • 8. Project and Wrapup

      1:51
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About This Class

Graphic Design for Lunch™ is a series of short video courses you can study in bite size pieces such as at lunchtime. In this course you'll learn to use Layers, Layer Masks and Adjustment Layers in Photoshop. This class will be of use primarily to photographers and people who work with photographs in Photoshop but it is also equally useful to anyone who wants to get started working with Layers and Layer Masks.

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Helen Bradley

Graphic Design for Lunch™

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Helen teaches the popular Graphic Design for Lunch™ courses which focus on teaching Adobe® Photoshop®, Adobe® Illustrator®, Procreate®, and other graphic design and photo editing applications. Each course is short enough to take over a lunch break and is packed with useful and fun techniques. Class projects reinforce what is taught so they too can be easily completed over a lunch hour or two.

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Transcripts

1. Layers and Masks 101 in Photoshop - Introduction: Hello, I'm Helen Bradley. Welcome to this Graphic Design for Lunch class, layers, and layer masks 101 for photographers in Adobe Photoshop. Graphic Design for Lunch is a series of classes that teach a range of tips and techniques for creating designs and for working in applications such as Illustrator, Photoshop, and Procreate. Today's class is all about layers and layer masks. We're going to do it from the very beginning because I know that a lot of people are confused about using layers and more specifically, layer masks. We're going to look at some applications for layers. We're going to make duplicate layers. We're going to combine images. We're going to use masks, and we're going to do it in a way that is going to demystify layers and masks for you and give you a really good grounding for using them in the future. As you're watching these videos, you will see a prompt which lets you recommend this class to others. Please, if you're enjoying the class, do two things for me. Firstly, give the class a thumbs up, and secondly, write just a few words about why you're enjoying this class. These recommendations help other students to say that this is a class that they too might enjoy. If you'd like to leave a comment or a question, please do so. I read and respond to all of your comments and questions, I look at and respond to all of your class projects. If you're ready now, let's get started with layers and masks 101. 2. Pt 1 - Duplicate Layers and Blend Modes: We're going to begin our look at layers with this image which is over exposed, it's extremely light. Now, we can fix that image if we can get access to the layers in Photoshop. So I'm going to click on the layers palette here. You can also get to it by choosing Window and then Layers. Now, I've made my layer thumbnails really big by clicking the flyout menu here, I chose Panel Options and then I set the thumbnail size to the largest value possible so it's easier to see. Now like every other photo that you'll encounter when you open it in Photoshop, it will have a background layer, and that background layer will be locked. To unlock a background layer so that you can get access to it, for example, to erase portions from it, you'll need to do something. You can click on the Lock icon in more recent versions of Photoshop, and that will unlock that background layer. I'm just going to undo that because in some versions of Photoshop that won't work. In those instances, you can drag the lock icon and drop it on the trash can and that will work. Just going to undo that yet again, you can also right-click the Layer and choose Layer from background. Click "Okay", and that will also convert the background into a regular layer. Now if you're wondering why we would make a background layer into a regular lab, this is the answer. When I go to the erase it all and I go and erase on this layer now, I can erase to transparency, so I'm actually removing pixels from this image. Let's just wind this back to where it is a background layer and it's locked. This time if I try and erase with the eraser, I'm erasing to my background color, so whatever my background color happens to be, that's what I'm filling this area with. I can't get a transparent area, can't actually knock-out these pixels because it is a locked layer. As soon as I unlock the layer, then the erase it at all actually erases content from the image. So there's a very important reason as to why you might want to unlock the background layer to make it just a regular layer. Let's return to this image, and let's see a fix for this image. What I'm going to do is I'm going to make a duplicate of this layer. I can do that a number of ways, and one method is to drag and drop it onto the New Layer icon here. Now, right now nothing's happened to this image. You can see that when I click the layer visibility icon for this topmost layer, nothing's happening, although we have two identical versions of the image each on layers. This one's at the top, and this is the one at the bottom. In the last pallet here, you have some tools for controlling how various layers interact with each other. The topmost layer is selected. I'm going to open this panel that shows me the blend modes that are available for blending two layers together. Now this list can look really confusing, except that there are three key blend modes that you'll want to know. You want to know multiply, screen, and overlay. We're going to use multiply on this particular layer. So I'm going to click "Multiply", and you can see that immediately this image has darkened, let's turn this layer off and on again. The multiply blend mode when applied to the topmost layer of this image, is enhancing the pixels in the image. It's doing some mathematics between these two layers, which makes everything darker. Multiply is a darkening blend mode. Now if this is good but not enough, you can duplicate this layer again. So I'm going to drag and drop it onto the New Layer icon, and the image gets darker still. You can see that this topmost layer has brought with it the multiply blend mode that was applied to it. You can click on the Eyeball icon for any layer to see how it is contributing to the image. So we might say that this is good, but it's perhaps a little bit too much of a fix. This is not enough. This is too much. Well, if this is too much, we can make this top layer slightly transparent and blend it in to the layer below, borrow some of the fix but not all of it, and we do that by adjusting opacity. Now, there are a couple of ways that you can get the opacity adjustment. You can click this down pointing arrow and just drag on this slider here, but perhaps easier still is to use what are called scrubby sliders. You will just position your mouse pointer over the word opacity, and you'll see a little hand icon with some arrows. You can drag on that to reduce the opacity. At zero, this layer is fully transparent. It's like putting a plastic sheet over the image, is having no effect on the image at all. When I turn this layer on and off, you can't see any change in the image because this layer is not contributing anything to the image because it's totally see through. If I increase the opacity up to say 50 percent, then it's going to be partially see through, so we'll see some of its effect, but not all of it. I'll click the Eyeball on and off and you can see that we're getting a little bit of the effect, but not the full effect that we would get if we dialed opacity up to 100 percent. So you've learned a lot about layers here, you know how to unlock the background blur, make a duplicate of a layer, apply a blend mode to it, and also to adjust it's opacity. 3. Pt 2 - Screen and Overlay Blend Modes: This next image is from a site called unsplash.com. Again it's got a background layer, and again, it's locked. This time the image is quite dark, so we're going to use a process for lightening the image. I'm going to drag this layer onto the New Layer icon to make a duplicate, an exact copy of this layer. This time we're going to use a different blend mode, we're going to use the Screen blend mode, because what the Screen blend mode does is lighten things. If you put two layers that are identical on top of each other and apply the Screen blend mode to the topmost layer, then you'll get a lightened version. Now with blend modes, you always have to apply them to the topmost layer. If we set this one back to normal and go and apply screen to the bottom layer, nothing's going to happen, because the blend modes have to be applied to the topmost layer to have any effect. Like we did with the over-exposed image, we can also lighten this even further by making another duplicate of this layer. You can say that this has had an even greater lightening effect and it's brought with it the Screen blend mode. Again, we can dial down the opacity if the effect is too match. These two fixes that you've seen so far are really good fixes for images that are too light or too dark. Let's go to another image again from unsplash.com. This image is a little bit on the dark side and it's also lacking in contrast. Well, let's see what we can do with that. I'm going to drag the Background layer onto the New Layer icon. You don't actually have to unlock the Background layer to do this particular process. So with this layer, because the image is a little bit dark, we're going to apply the Screen blend mode to lighten it, and so, the image is a lot lighter, but it's still lacks contrast. Let's make a duplicate of this background copy layer. It's got the Screen blend mode applied to it, so it's getting lighter and lighter as we go. But what if we like the lightness of this one but we still want more contrast? With our third copy of the Background layer instead of making it screen to lighten it even more, let's use overlay. Overlay is a contrast, the blend mode, the way that it forces and interaction between layers is the lighter pixels are taken in one direction and the darker pixels are taken in a different direction. It's polarizing the tonal range in the image, pulling the lighter pixels in a lighter direction and a darker pixels in a darker direction. The result is severely enhanced contrast. You can see how much more contrast we brought into this image with just this layer. Of course, if it's too much, we can dial it back. You could also take it back up to full opacity, but make another copy of this screen blend mode layer, going to drag and drop that onto the New Layer icon. So what we did here was the original image, a screen, to make it lighter, another screen to make it even lighter still, and then a layer that is blended with the overlay blend mode, just to kick up the contrast. You can see that from here to here, the image has taken a huge step. It's not only way lighter than the original, but it's also way more contrasted, this is the original, and this is our revamped version. 4. Pt 3 - Blend with a Mask: Like we did in the earlier images, I'm starting with an image, and this one again is downloaded from unsplash.com. I'm going to make a duplicate of this image, and I'm going to apply a filter to the image. I've got black as my foreground color and white as my background color. That's pretty important for this particular filter. I'll choose Filter and then Filter Gallery. The filter that I'm using is in the Distort filters area and it's called Diffuse Glow. It's really important that we have black and white selected as they were, because that gives us a whitish glow. Otherwise, the glow would be black. You can adjust the grain amount, and the glow amount, and the clear amount to get a really nice impression here. I've got those pretty well set, and I'll click Okay. Like we had before, we've got the same image on both layers, but in this instance, the topmost layer is a bit different to the bottom one. It's got the filter applied to it. What if we want to blend these two images together so we want a bit of the fox's face from the photograph, but use the Diffuse Glow for the rest of the image. Well, there's not a blend mode that's going to achieve that for us, so we can't use one of these blend modes that we saw in the earlier videos. But we could use an eraser. I'm going to go and select the eraser, and I'm going to select a soft round eraser brush. I'm going to start erasing over this fox's face. Now, this is all very well as an effect, and it will work if I'm really, really careful. But it doesn't give me a lot of flexibility for undoing things. Because if I come through here and just blend this top image into the bottom one by erasing away the bits I don't want and have a look through here now and say, "Well, I think I erased a bit too much," well, it's going to be difficult to get it back because there's this big hole that we've poked in this top layer and the image is gone. The best I can do is press Control Alt Z, command option Z on a Mac repeatedly until the content comes back, and then go forward again. It's not a very easy way of editing. I'm going to trash this top layer. I'm going to go back and do that filter again very quickly. This time, instead of using the eraser, let's use a tool that will allow us to paint this effect on or off at any time, and it's called a mask. With this top layer selected, because that, like those blend modes, is where we'll need to add our mask, I'm going to click the Add Layer Mask icon. It just adds this white box here in the Layers palette. Nothing's changed on the image. Nothing at all has changed in this image by adding the mask to it. Now, in the Layers palette, you can tell what's selected by this little border around it. In this case, the picture itself is selected. In this case, the border is around the mask. It's the mask we're going to be working on. Now, I have my default colors selected here, black and white. What I'm going to do is paint on the mask, but I want to paint with a shade of gray, so I'm going to click open the Color Picker. You can see that the colors are limited to shades of gray here. The reason for this is that you can only paint on a mask in black or white or gray. I'm going to pick a dark gray here. With the mask selected, with my brush tool selected, and with a medium hardness brush, I'm going to start painting on the mask. Now, when I say painting on the mask, I'm actually painting on the photograph, but the paint is going into the mask. That's the important thing to note. You're going to paint over the photograph where you want the mask to be altered. In this case, I'm painting with this dark color, gray. As I do this everywhere, I'm painting in this gray color, I'm bringing most of the photograph below back into view. Now, the beauty of this process is that if I make a mistake or if I want to change things, I can do so. I'm going to flip the colors around, so I'm painting with white. I'm going to make sure that my brush is really, really soft. I'm still painting on the mask because the mask is selected here. This time, I'm just going to paint with white. What white is doing is bringing back the Diffuse Glow layer. To make this brush a bit bigger, I'm going to soften around where the fox's muzzle is. What we've got here, when you look at the fox's face and I turn this layer on and off, you can see that we've got most of the fox's face from the image below, but we've got the body from the top layer. This is how you blend images together using masks. You add a mask to a layer. It'll generally, be a white filled mask, which will not alter the image at all. You'll click on the mask to select it, and then you'll paint on the image with black or gray to effectively poke a hole in this Diffuse Glow layer so that you can see the layer below. It's just that the hole that you're poking this time is not a real hole. It's not a hole like the eraser made, because look what's happens when I hide the mask. You can see that the layer and all the data is still there. This is just saying to Photoshop, I want you to erase it, but just show me what it would look like if I erased it. But don't actually erase that because I might want to change my mind later on. If you want to turn your mask on and off like I just did, hold the Shift key as you click on the mask to put this red line through it so you're hiding the mask. You're effectively temporarily turning it off. Click on the mask again to turn it back on again. 5. Pt 4 - Fixing Blemishes: This is another situation in which being able to use layers will really help us. What I want to do is to remove some of the dark smudging under this girl's eyes. I'm going to make a duplicate of the background layer of this image and I'm going to work on this duplicate layer. The reason for this is that I want to use the Patch tool. The Patch tool is not one of those tools that allows me to make my fixes on a separate layer. The Patch tool insists on working on the current layer. I'm making a duplicate so that I can isolate all of my fixes to a second copy of this image in case I don't like the results, but also so that I can blend the results in in a minute. What I'm going to do with the Patch tool is I'm just going to select around the area that has the dark skin color that I want to remove. I have Source selected up here, and all I'm going to do is to just drag downwards over an area of cleaner skin, and that will replace that area of skin. Now if I want to, I can do it a second time. Again, make my selection find a lighter area of skin, and Photoshop is going to blend this in. I'm pressing Control or Command D to deselect the selection. Let's see the effect. I'm going to turn off the fix that we just made. You can see that this area here is way darker than it is since we fixed it. This is our fix. Now, there are a couple of things that we can do with the fix, now that we've applied it to a separate layer. We could set it to a lightened blend mode. What that will do is only pick up the lighter pixels from this fixed layer. If we've managed to pull some darker pixels into another area of skin, they're going to be blocked from this fix. Here we have the original, and this time we've got the fixed layer, but with a lightened blend mode. We're only using the lightest pixels. If a dark pixel goes over an area that was previously lighter, then we're not going to see that fix. We can also dial down the opacity by separating the fix from the original image. We can blend the two in together. Now, some tools like the Spot Healing Brush tool work a little bit differently. I've added a new blank layer by just clicking here on the New Layer icon to add a blank layer in. It's going to turn our fix off because I just want to focus on this area here. I'm just going to zoom in. I have to say, I went a long way to find somebody that had any flaws that I could actually remove. We'd ring a little bit fussy in terms of our flaws here, but I'm doing this just to show you the point. I'm going to the Spot Healing Brush tool. I'm going to make it a little bit smaller by pressing the open square bracket key. I'm just going to drag over the area that I want to fix, and it's now being removed. But you can see here that I've got sample all layers selected. What Photoshop is doing is sampling all the layers in the image, but it's applying the fix to my new layer, which means that I can turn it on and off as I please. I'm just going to fix this area as well. Now, when I turn this on and off, you can see that the fix has been applied to this top layer only. Now, as I said, it's a fairly unrealistic fix, but you can see the effect. If we want a little bit of the fix but not all of it, then we can dial down the opacity. This is lightening these two creases by bringing in the fix at about 56 percent opacity. This is the original and this is the fix. We still got those two creases, but we've minimize their effect by blocking them out. What we've done here is added this skin tone here over the top of the original creases, but when we bring it down to about 50 percent opacity, you can see that we're bringing a little bit of the fix, but not all of it. When it's put over the original image, it becomes a more subtle fix, but it definitely is different to the original. A lot of fixes for things like wrinkles and zits and freckles and blemishes are best done on a separate layer, because that means that you can blend them back in again later on. If you've over-corrected your wrinkles and produced an unrealistic look, well, you could bring them back in at 50 percent opacity, where you still have some wrinkles but not the smooth skin that is a giveaway that you've actually done a fix on the image. 6. Pt 5 - Blend with Texture: One other interesting technique that involves layers is when you combine two very different images in Photoshop. I have a skyline image that I downloaded from unsplash.com, and over here I've got a bokeh light image that I downloaded from skeletalmess Flickr stream. I'm going to give you a download link for his Flickr stream and also for this one from unsplash.com. I'm going to this bokeh image and I'm going to choose Select All, and then Edit Copy. I want to make a duplicate of it. I'm going back to my cityscape and I'll choose Edit Paste. Now, in this case, the bokeh image is a little bit smaller than the cityscapes. So I'm just going to size it up. I just going to grab the corner here, hold the Shift key, and just enlarge it. I want these lights to be over the main part of my image, so I'm going to place it in position and click the "Check" mark. Now, not unsurprisingly, we can only see this bokeh texture because it is set here to normal blend mode and it is at the top of the last stack. So we're only able to see this image. If we want to see the image underneath, we'd have to turn this image off. But what I want to do is to blend these two images together and I'm going to use a blend mode for this. Now, before we use screen, multiply, and overlay, we're going to have a look at some different blend modes this time. Now, if you're working on a Mac, select a tool that is not a brush tool. Something like a Marquee tool is a really good tool to select on a PC. You don't have to worry about this. You're going to select the topmost layer because that's the one that's going to have the effect applied to it, because if you apply it to the bottom-most layer, it won't have any effect at all. We're going to select the first of the blend modes, which is dissolve, and which is spectacularly ineffective here. What dissolve does is having no effect on this image. But now we're going to move through the other blend modes to see what they do. On a PC, you can press the down arrow key. On a Mac, you'll press Shift Plus, and then you can scroll through these blend modes to see how it looks when these two images are blended together. Each of these blend modes is a mathematical calculation and it specifies how the topmost image is blended in with the one underneath. You're just going to go down through these blend modes to see if you can find something that you like. Some of them may have no effect, some of them may look appalling. But hopefully, in the mix there's something that is of interest to you. Now, I'm going back up into the overlay area here because I like this effect. Now again, as we saw in the earlier videos, if we want to see a little bit more of the image underneath, we can do so by just dialing down the opacity. But with this blend mode, I want to show you something. I'm actually going to reverse the order of these two layers, so I've already unlocked this bottom layer. I'm just going to drag the bokeh dots behind the original image and I'm going to set its Blend Mode to overlay as well. I used overlay on this layer and I'm using it on this. Now, the overlay on this bottom layer is having no effect at all, it's all to do with what's on the top. But let's see what happens when we reverse these layers now. The effect is quite different. So what we're saying here is that the overlay blend mode is going to be a little bit different in its effect, depending on which of the layers is on the top. This is what it looks like when the cityscape is on the top. This is what it looks like when the bokeh image is on the top. When the bokeh image is on the top, we're seeing more of the cityscape, if you like, and vice versa. So you might determine that one or other of these is the effect that you prefer. But just be aware that with some of these blend modes, not all of them, but some of them, there will be a difference in the final image depending on which of these images is on top. But of course, the blend mode has to be applied to the topmost layer to be effective. If we were up here at a 100 percent opacity and we had normal blend mode, then we're only going to see the cityscape. I've got overlay, so I'm going to see the combination of these two images together, and if it's too much of an effect, you can always try just dialing down the opacity and that will change the resulting image. This is a way to, for example, apply textures to an image. If you find a texture that you really like, you can add the texture as a new layer in the image and then blend the two layers together with your choice of blend modes. Blend modes that you find that would work with one set of images might work completely differently on another set of images. So most people in these circumstances, would just go down through the list and just see what happens and look for something that is inspiring. You'll always get a result with overlay. Overlay will always give you something that is really nice but some of these other blend modes might actually give you more interesting results for a particular combination of starting image and overlay. 7. Pt 6 - Adjustment Layers and Masks: Before we leave our examination of layers in Photoshop, there's a type of layer that we have not yet looked at, and which is very important. The layer that we haven't looked at is called an adjustment layer. You're going to get to them by choosing layer, new adjustment layer. Now for this particular image, I'm going to choose the brightness and contrast adjustment. I'm just going to select that and click "Okay". Now this adjustment allows us to lighten or darken the image and also apply a contrast adjustments. I'm going to lighten the image a little bit, and I'm going to boost the contrast. When I close down this panel and open up the last panel, you will see that we have what is called an adjustment layer here. The adjustment layer is just controlling the brightness and contrast adjustment. I can turn the layer effect on and off by clicking its eyeball on and off. One of the big advantage to using an adjustment layer like this instead of image adjustments, brightness/contrast, which is the alternative way of applying a change of brightness and contrast to an image is this. If I double-click now on this brightness layer thumbnail, I'll reopen the brightness and contrast dialogue, so I can adjust the brightness and contrast, so I'm not left with an effect that's baked into the image. The effect can be adjusted at any time, by just double-clicking on the layer thumbnail. You can also hide it and display it. If you wanted to, you could just delete to remove it. Now let's have a look at another image that we're also going to apply an Adjustment Layer to. Now you can apply adjustment layers using layer, new adjustment layer, and then select the adjustment layer that you want, or you can do it here. Just click the drop-down menu here and choose the adjustment that you want to use. In this case, I'm using curves. Now with the curves adjustment here, what I want to do is to lighten the image. I'm just going to drag upwards on the curve, to lighten these lighter areas of the image. I'm going to try a little bit downwards here as well, to try and get a little bit of additional contrast. I'm looking at the effect on the layers here. I'm going back to the last panel. Again a curves adjustment was similar to the brightness and contrast when we can remove it by clicking it on and off, we can double-click the layer thumbnail to reopen this dialogue. Now you might also have noticed that H adjustment layer comes with its own mask, and we know things that we can do with masks. I'm going to target this mask and I have the default colors set here. I'm going to click on the gradient tool. The first gradient is always a foreground to background gradient. This is going to be black to white because they're my colors. I'm going to choose a radial gradient here. I'm going to make sure that I have my masks targeted, and I'm going to drag out a gradient. Now this gradient's gone in the wrong way for me. I'm going to reverse it. I'll click the reverse checkbox there, to disable it because it was already enabled, and I'm just going to drag to create my gradient. You can fill masks with gradients in just the same way as you can paint on a mask. What this gradient is allowing me to do is to control where the adjustment is taking place. This is the original image, and this is the newly adjusted image and the effect is curves adjustment, is only affecting these leaves here. Now I can go one step further and I can add my brush, because we've learned in previous videos that we can paint on mask. I've white selected. I have a nice soft brush selected here. I can just paint on the mask in the areas of the image, where I want to apply this additional lightning effect. Now that I've painted this on, let's have a look at the before and after. This is the original image. This is the image that's been adjusted with a adjustment layer. This is the mask that is controlling how that adjustment is being applied to the image. As we saw earlier, we can turn this mask on and off. This would be the adjustment applied to the entire image. This is the more considered, more crafted adjustment that we've applied using the layer mask tool. Most of the adjustments that you can do by selecting image and adjustments can also be done with adjustment layers. There are a few exceptions and probably of the exceptions and most important one is shadows and highlights. Shadows and highlights can be applied as an adjustment under the image menu, but there is no shadow and highlights adjustment layer. 8. Project and Wrapup: Your project for this class will be to reproduce one or more of the effects that you've seen shown in this video. You might want to fix an overly dark or an overly light image, or to add some more contrast to an image by duplicating the image layer and then applying one of the blend modes; multiply, screen, or overlay. You may want to apply a filter to an image and then blend the filtered version of the image somehow in with an original of the image to get a mix of the two; the filter and the original image. You may want to experiment with doing some blemish fixing on an image, and do that on a new layer so that you can blend the fixes into the original image. Or you may want to experiment with blending an image with a texture image. Whichever of these techniques you choose to use, post a picture of your completed image for whichever of these techniques you choose to use in the class project area. I hope that you've enjoyed this class and that it has gone some way towards demystifying working with layers and layer masks in Photoshop. As you're watching these videos, you will have seen a prompt to recommend this class to others. Please, if you enjoyed the class, do two things for me. Firstly, give it a thumbs up, and secondly, write in just a few words why you enjoyed the class. These recommendations help others to see that this is the class that they too might enjoy. If you'd like to leave me a comment or a question, please do so. I read and respond to all of your comments and questions, and I look at and respond to all of your class projects. My name's Helen Bradley. Thank you so much for joining me for this episode of graphic design for lunch, and I look forward to seeing you in an upcoming episode soon.