Adobe Photoshop Layers Explained | Jeremy Deighan | Skillshare

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.

      Adobe Photoshop Layers Explained


    • 2.

      Basics of Photoshop Layers


    • 3.

      Adding Effects with Layer Styles


    • 4.

      Using Layer Masks in Photoshop


    • 5.

      Adjustment Layers in Photoshop


    • 6.

      Assignment - Submit Your Photoshop Project


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About This Class

Have you ever wanted to learn layers inside of AdobePhotoshop?

Layers are an invaluable tool that will allow you to create all sorts of effects for your images, artwork, and graphics.

In this quick course, I will show you the basics of layers and the layer panel. Then we will take a look at some different layer effects that are common inside of Photoshop such as styles, masks, and adjustments.

At the end of this class, I encourage you to try out this fun feature inside of Photoshop, save out your work, and then upload your finished image as a project to this class.

It's always a blast to see what the students have created!

So if you are interested in leveling up your skills by learning layers inside of Photoshop then enroll now and I will see you in the first lecture.

Other Courses You May Be Interested In:

Meet Your Teacher

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Jeremy Deighan

Online Instructor |


My name is Jeremy Deighan and I am thrilled to be an online instructor, helping others achieve their own personal goals. I have had quite the range of skills and hobbies through my lifetime. I really enjoy teaching and hope to provide information to others on anything and everything I know how to do! Please take a moment to check out my courses, and if you take any please leave a review and any feedback you have!

Art and Design

I have an extensive background in different forms of art and design. I have an associates degree in Computer Animation and I've worked with various production houses to create awesome content. Adobe Photoshop has been a staple of my arsenal since I was 16 and use it faithfully to this day.

I also have a history in live visual arts, specifical... See full profile

Level: Intermediate

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1. Adobe Photoshop Layers Explained: have you ever wanted to learn layers inside a Photoshopped Layers are an invaluable tool that will allow you to create all sorts of effects for your images, artwork and graphics. In this quick course, I will show you the basics of layers and the layer panel. Then we will take a look at some different layer effects that are common inside of photo shop. Such a styles, masks and adjustments. At the end of this class, I encourage you to try out this fun feature inside a photo shop, save out your work and then upload your finished image as a project to this class. It's always a blast to see what the students have creative. So if you are interested in leveling up your skills by learning layers inside a photo shop , then it roll now and I will see you in the first lecture. 2. Basics of Photoshop Layers: now in this video, we are going to be talking about the layers panel. So if you've never used layers before or you don't know all the features of the Layers panel, we're going to go ahead and briefly touch on all of those now. So I went ahead and I opened up in image called Khar dot jp G. And when I do, you can see that we have a layer created with our image and in italics, says Background. And there's a lock icon. So whenever you open up an image or start a new document inside a photo shop, you're going to be given a background layer, and this is basically you're first starting layer. They lock it down so you can't come in here and start making any edits or anything like that. So if we want to, we can go ahead and click the lock button to unlock that layer. When we do, you see it changes its name, toe layer zero. So now it's just a normal layer. We can move it around and edit it and do whatever we want with it. If I want to change out that name, I can just go ahead and left, click on it and just call it car. And now we have a car layer, and I can go ahead and edit this layer however we want. Now, the way that layers work inside of Adobe Photo Shop is just think of them as photographs on top of one another ord. I like to think of sheets of paper, construction paper. So if I have a photograph of a car and then I took a sheet of paper and I laid it on top. I'm going to click the new layer button down here in the bottom right hand corner. So I'm gonna add a new layer and you can see it adds a layer one on top. And there's nothing in it. That's what the checkerboard means, that it's blink. So let's go ahead and put something on this layer, and we're just going to say that this is a red sheet of construction paper. So when I do that changes to foreground, you can see that the red construction paper is on top of my photograph of my car. Let's go ahead and change this to read. And so if I click and drag this beneath the photograph now are red. Construction paper is underneath the car, and because they're the same width and height, you can see that they take up the same amount of space so the car completely covers that layer. I'm going to go ahead and move that red one on top. Let's go ahead and duplicate that layer. So I'm just gonna left click on it and drag it down to the new layer icon. And it's going to create a copy for me will rename this blue, and instead of the red color, let's choose a blue color and fill this in. So now we have three pieces of paper. We have a blue piece of paper, and if I move it under the red, we can see the Reds on top. And if I move the car above all those three sheets of paper, you can see the cars on top. So this is basically how layers is going toe work, and it becomes very valuable when you start working with transparency. So let's take this red layer. I'm just going to make a quick square here, and now you can see I've deleted out the information around the square. That's why you see the checkered board in the layers panel. So now we just have our square and it's sitting on top of our blue piece of construction. Paper is if we took scissors and cut that out. So now let's make a circle for the blue layer and you can see what's happened. I have now a red square that I've cut out my construction paper and a blue circle. If I take that red square because it's on top in the Layers panel, it's going to go on top of the blue circle, so the same thing still applies. It's just that now I can actually see what's happening a little better because we're using some shapes. So if I take the blue layer and I move it on top, you will see that it sits on top of that circle. And then, of course, if I put the car on top, it's going to cover all of those up. So that's how layers basically work inside of Adobe Photoshopped. Now, real quickly, I want to show you a couple other of the features inside of this panel Here at the top, we can filter by different layer types, so we can filter by layers that have pixels or images on them. We can filter, and by adjustment layers we can filter by type and typography. We can filter by shapes, and we can filter in by smart objects. And whenever I click one of these, you'll see this little red button turn on. And because I don't have any text layers here, you can see that there's nothing to filter out. So if I just go up to the top, let's change our color again so we can see this. Make it a yellow, and I just bring out my textile real quick, and I create a new text layer A soon as I start typing. Now we have a layer that we just named text. It automatically named whatever we typed in. So because I typed text is actually named it text and you can see it's a different looking layer. It's got the tea, and that's just a typography, a text layer. It means that I can still come in here and edit this text. Now I can filter text layers out. If I click this button, you can see it'll filter just my text layers. If I filter pixels, you'll see it gets rid of the text layer because the text layers not a pixel layers, not rast arised. And it's not an image, so it filters out. Just the ones that are pixels so we can filter out are different layers. Then we have the ability to blend layers in different ways. This is what the blending motives. So here we have, it's set to normal, so we just have a blue on top of a red square, and they're blended together on a normal level. However, if I choose something like Darken, you will see that it has darkened the layer we have selected, which is blue, and it works on whatever it's over. So you can see that because it's a dark blue. It's kind of working like a blue gel and and making everything a little bit darker. Same thing if I were to turn that toe lighten. You can see this making everything a little bit lighter and you can see the red in the blue . Ah, mixing color. They're a little bit Ah, and then there's all kinds of different ones that you can use. You can change. Ah Hughes and saturation. You can do math such as dividing, subtracting and so on to change out these layers. So this is the way that you blend them. Now we also can change the opacity of a layer. So this blue layer I have selected, I can make it less visible. So as I turned that down, you can see it becomes transparent. I can see through it. We also have the fill option, other underneath. And you won't notice anything with the Phil if you start turning it down until you start using what are called adjustment layers. So the way that this works is if you have an adjustment layer on here. So you had ah blue circle with a pink stroke adjustment layer going around it. A pass ity will affect everything this circle in the stroke where the Phil will Onley affect the circle and leave the pink stroke still 100% solid. We can also go ahead and lock down layers based on different things such as transparent pixels, image pixels position. We can prevent auto nesting if you're using multiple art boards and of course, we can just lock everything down so I can lock this layer down. And now I can't grab it and move it because it's locked, it automatically groove that hot. Bakley grabbed and moved the layer underneath it, which was the red layer. And then at the bottom we have the different things we can do with layers. If I left, click and shift, click another layer. I can link these layers together. So now they move is one. I can apply styles to a layer so I can give them a bevel Hueneme Boss, I can make them glow. I can ah, do drop shadows and whatnot. So if I pick a drop shadow on this blue bar here, you can see the effect that it has so we can prove provide different types of layer styles to our layer. We can do a layer mask which basically allows us to see and not see different parts of a layer. So if I color black on a layer mask, you can see it added a layer mask next to this layer. If I start coloring black, it's going to take away. And then if I start coloring white, you can see a doctor actually bring that image back. So layer mass allows toe reveal and hide different parts of an image using layer masks do that. And then at the end, we have an adjustment layer, which we talked about before with the filling the opacity. Basically, adjustment layer works like a layer mask. However, you can adjust things based on its values and its colors. So, for instance, I can actually change the way that an image look so I can take this blue layer or I can I can affect the whole a whole set of layers here by this adjustment layer. And then it works like a mask also, where I can do the same thing if I take the black Aiken, start coloring and bringing back the stuff that was there before leaving everything else color based on that adjustment layer. So it allows us to do a lot of fine control, fine tuning and different things, which are really great. And then, of course, the last two buns we saw before was the add new layer. And then, if I want to delete a layer such as this adjustment layer, I can go ahead and click on that trashcan and it'll deleted out. So those are the very basics of the layers panel. Kind of a quick run through, in case you never knew what some of these buttons did or you had any questions? Hopefully, this gave you a brief introduction into the layers panel. 3. Adding Effects with Layer Styles: Now that you understand layers in the layers panel, let's go ahead and take a look at layer styles. Styles are going to allow us to provide some cool effects to our layers, and there's all kinds of different ones. We won't go over every single one of them in this video, but it will give you a basics of where to get started and how to check them out. So, as you can see, I have a gray layer here. This is at 50% gray, and I just created this little white to black gray scale grading on the left hand side so you can see the values of where we're at. We're right here in the middle, and I am going to go ahead and create a new layer. And let's just call this ah, rectangle. Make sure I have that layer selected. I'm gonna pick my rectangle marquee tool and just make a little rectangle down here in the bottom left, I'll fill it that hot pink color, which is our foreground color. And if I turn off the gray layer that's underneath that you can see, I created that pink layer on a transparent background so wherever you see checkerboard, that means there's transparency, so there's nothing there. This layer is just this rectangle, and that's important because if we apply the effect to a layer that's taking up the whole image most of the time, you're not going to see anything unless it's an inter effect. If it's any type of outer effect, you know I'm gonna noticing things. So it's important that we have that transparency there. So with that rectangle layer selected, I can go down to the FX button and left. Click on that and you can see all of our layer styles. Things such as Bevel in and Boss stroke glows, saddens, overlays and shadows. I can also double click on the layer. If I double click on the name, it'll let me change the name. But if I do it out here to the side, you'll see the layer style options open up here. And this is where I can add some cool effects. So here I can just pick which one I want say, I want stroke. I'll just click that check box. Now you do need to keep in mind. Even though I turned stroke on the blending options is what's highlighted right now. So if I start mess around with these buttons, nothing's gonna happen. I need to make sure that I highlight stroke toe actually affect those parameters. So here you can see I have a size so I can bump this up and make the stroke bigger. And a stroke is basically on outline of your layer or your image. Because this is reading where the transparency is. It knows this is where the images and it's applying that stroke there. Now, um, I can also change the A pass ity. I can change the blend mode. I can make the position. Either be on the outside, the inside or in the center of that line, and you get some cool effects there and I can change the color. Now that what's really cool about these layer styles is, we know that we are looking at a single rectangle layer that has a stroke layer style applied to it. So if I come in here and I still have that layer selected and say, I grab my paintbrush and I just start painting around, make sure I got proper brush here and I just start painting. We still get that stroke pattern going on, so the layer style is being applied to that whole layer, which is really cool because it allows us to create all kinds of neat effects. So if I want to get back in there to that stroke, Aiken left, click on here on the Strokes layer Effect name and it will take me back in there. I can turn it off and bring it back whenever I want. And I can do any of these other features so I can turn on Bevel. And in Boston, you can see it's given this cool, little and bossing effect, and I can change how, how much depth I want to give it. I can give it a different direction. I could make the size bigger or smaller, and it just creates this kind of cool look, this is very popular and you know things like websites. And what have you where you want, you know, a button looking effect. So we have all these different features that we can change. We can do. Ah, inter glows and in her shadows weaken do color overlays. If we want to completely overlay a color on that layer on that is possible. And you can see I can change the blending mode here and the capacity and what have you And then I can also do. Ah glows so I can create this cool glow effect, which is really nice. Um, you can do a lot of really neat things with this. Give it some noise, spread it out, make it bigger, smaller so you can really come down and do a lotta, really neat need effects with this glow. And then same thing with the drop shadow similar to the, um, em bossing except it doesn't affect the inside of the image. It's just the outside shadow, so we can actually make it look like we have different types of shadowing effects going on here. We can apply noise and what have you So these are your layer styles? Um, they're very useful, and they're very neat, and you can see as I begin to create them, um, they start popping up down here in the different sections, now hit the cancel button, so it actually deleted all of them out. But as I add in these layer styles, you'll see that they'll start popping up down there and we can have asthma. Nias we want. But what's cool about it is that it's actually affecting the whole layer. So no matter what I do, if I start coloring something new here, it's applying all their styles to that same layer, and you can do this with groups and so on, so it allows you to get some really neat effects using those different types of methods within the layer styles. 4. Using Layer Masks in Photoshop: Okay, Now we're gonna go ahead and talk about layer masks. And the best way for me to teach someone about layer mask is to think of them like two sheets of construction paper. And those are layers. So I have my blue layer in my red layer. Let's think about those as two sheets of construction plate, paper, blue piece of construction paper and a red piece of construction paper. Now, if I take the red piece of construction paper and put it on top of the blue piece of construction paper, we're going to see the red. Now, let's imagine for a moment that I wanted to go ahead and cut out a shape. So how would I do that? I would probably do that with some scissors. So I'm gonna get my polygon lasso tool that's gonna act like my my scissors here, and I'm just going to create a shape. So let's say I wanted to create, you know, some kind of cool star out of the center of this image. So I'm using my lasso tool or my scissors. I got it, and then I hit the delete button and that deletes it out and Now I can see my blue construction paper underneath, so this is awesome. It allows me to do a lot of really cool effects. However, if I hide my blue piece of paper, you can see that there is an actual hole in my red layer. So what we've done is we've actually cut into our image or are layer, and typically you don't want to do this inside a photo shop. And the reason why it's because you might want to apply some layer effects. You might want to edit this image later on or color corrected, or maybe get to a point where you haven't actually deleted anything, but you need to make some adjustments to it. Well, that's where a layer mask comes in. So I'm going to go ahead and undo that cut, and I'm going to bring back my blue layer underneath so that we can see it. And now what we want to do is we want to apply a layer mask so I can do this by going down with having the red layer selected. I go to the bottom, and I hit this little rectangle with the black dot in the center and that is, they add a layer mask button now because I had in elliptical marquee selection going on, you can see that it immediately cut out my image. Only this time, instead of making the Red Star cut out of the paper, it's as if we cut the star out and placed it on top of our blue construction paper. Well, why is that? If you look over here, it has created another rectangle next to the red layer. And this is our layer mask, and you can see that we have a white star on a black background. So the way that layer mass works is that you will see anything that is white, and you will not see anything that is black. And this is a value from 0 to 100%. So it can also be gray scale to get some transparency effects going on. But basically, when there is black, you see nothing. And when there is white, you see that layer. So because our layer is red and there is a white star in the mask because of our electrical selection, when we created this mask, you can see we can see this actual Red Star here. Now what happens if we wanted the reverse like we had before? Well, we can make sure we have that layers that layer mass selected. And you can see I can select either the original layer or the layer mask, and then I can go up to, um, image. Yep, adjustments invert, and it's going to invert it. So now you can see we have a white background in a black layer mask. And because we see white, you can see the red here. And when we don't see ah, when we have black, you don't see anything. And so we see the blue layer underneath. Now the great thing about this is I have not messed up my original red image. You can see it's still a solid red color, and that is great. That is exactly what we want, even though if I hide this, if I were to delete this mask out of here, you would notice that our regular red image has not been affected, and that's exactly what we want. The other great thing about layer masks is you can color, um, white and black to get the results you want So, for instance, I can actually pick a paintbrush. I can have black selected. And wherever I color black, we're going to see underneath. Now. Not only can I use black to take away, but I can also switch it toe white and bring back, and that gives us a whole lot of effects when we start doing all kinds of different things , these air great for doing all kinds of neat photo effects. They use it in beauty retouching, and there's a lot of really great things that you can do with Mask. And like I said, it is on a grayscale value. So let's just say I turn one of these to 50% so that's gonna be you can see halfway through . So when I paint on the red, you can see we get a little blue underneath. If I were to go ahead and make that a little darker, we're getting a little more through that. We can see until we get to ah, 100% black, and then we can fully see everything underneath. And that works the same way as if we were going upto white. So layer mask are very important. It's something that you really want to try to get your head wrapped around. It's a little tricky at first, but once you just understand that like two cheeks of construction paper and all you're doing is revealing with white or taking away with black. Once you get that concept, when you start using layer mask, it'll be very easy for you. 5. Adjustment Layers in Photoshop: adjustment layers work just like layer mess. However, they allow you to go ahead and edit attributes and values and colors and different things like that on your layer. And they work really cool. So let's go ahead and take a look at him now. So here we have the picture of our car and I'm going to go ahead and add an adjustment. So I go down to the bottom. I click on the adjustment layers tab, and then you can see I have solid color Grady int pattern brightness levels, curves, exposure, photo filters invert pasteurized all this different things that you can edit individually on layers while using a mask to do it. So, for instance, let's go ahead and let's change the hue and saturation of this image. And as you can see, this actually creates a new, um, a new layer above, and it's going to affect everything below it. And so you may want to group these together if you're trying to single out a single image or item inside of your photo or your graphic. So here we have our hue and saturation, and what we're going to do is we're going to change the color of this car. So I start moving this slider and let's say we wanted to make this. Ah ah, hot red car. However, you can see it's actually changing the hue of everything in our image, and that's not what we want. We just want to change the color of the car. Well, let's focus on the car here for a minute and just try to pull out this, read a little more and see if we can get it kind of close. You know, I would spend a lot of time doing this. Um, sometimes in these little videos, I do go a little quick because I just want to kind of show you the basics without getting way too technical or really getting in there and being a perfectionist, which I can definitely be sometimes. So we got the red color of this car that we want to create. Now. How are we going to adjust that? Well, you can see it's created a layer mask. So using the principles of the masking system, I can basically reveal or hide whatever I want to. So I'm going to switch over to my tablet hero, make this a little bit easier for me to draw on. So I'm just using a wacom tablet so that I can be a little more fluid with my movements and I'm gonna go and select my brush. Let me turn it toe white and black, cause that's gonna either give or take away as we know from Mess. So I'm going to go to black and basically, wherever I draw, you can see it's going to bring back the original image. So instead of duplicating this image and creating its own layer mask, it's allowing me to affect the attributes of the hue and saturation of this image like I want to. So I want to bring back this nice green color of the force. So I would go in here and meticulously paint this. You could use any technique or tool that, you know inside a photo shop so I could use selection tools, magic wand tools, more key selections, you know, basically anything at my disposal. But this just gives you a general idea that what's happening here is that I am able to go in here and affect this. As you can see, that blue is reflecting on that rim there from the original image, and that doesn't look right with the red. However, the red doesn't look that good cause it looks a little too bright. So I might use some techniques to come in here and maybe just change this to, ah, gray scale and effect on Lee that tire and try to get that that ring to more of a grayscale color instead of the harsh blue or red that I'm seeing there. But basically, this is how, um, adjustment layers work in Adobe Photo Shop, and it's going to affect everything that's beneath it. So, like I said, you may want to come in here and actually change out, um, or group your individual layers with their layer adjustments so that your only affecting the pieces that you want to effect. But it's basically using the same characteristics of a layer mess that we learned before. But it it'll allows me to do all those different options that you saw. There occurs. The level is the exposure and all these neat principles, so that is how adjustment layers work is very simple, very straightforward, and you can do a lot of fun things with them. So let's see what you can come up with 6. Assignment - Submit Your Photoshop Project: Hey, everybody, I hope you really enjoyed this course on using layers inside a Photoshopped. Hopefully, by now you really understand the layers panel, how layers work, how to use layer styles and adjustment layers and what masks are used for. Now, if you have any questions at all, don't hesitate to ask inside of the course. You can also follow me. So you'll Seymour of my courses come out as I produce him typically on things such as graphic design in photo shop and also before you leave, if you could do a couple more things first of all, if you could leave me a review by clicking on the leave review button in the top right hand corner Ah, that would be great. It helps me understand what to do better as an instructor, and it also tells future students if this is the right type. Of course for them, you might also get prompted. As you're taking this course. If you haven't checked yes or no already, just go ahead and do that. If you want mind, that'd be great. And then also, go ahead and submit your project so you can go ahead to the class projects button at the bottom and hit Read mawr. Or you can just click on your project at the top, and this will take you to the area where you can submit your project. When the screen loads up, it will give you a brief description of what to do to submit your project. You can see that description here and then if you scroll down. This is the area where you will submit your projects that just go ahead and fill out the project title. Choose an image of something that you've created, so I would like to see you using layer mask. It can be very simple grayscale black and white. You can add color. You can try photographs, whatever you want to do. Just create something awesome, upload the image and then put a little description in and hit create that will make a new project. And then me and the whole class concomitant there we can see how you're doing, how you're progressing, Um, and then if you have any questions or you want Fi Becker critiques, I can provide that for you. So again, Thank you so much for checking out this class. Go ahead and follow me. If you wanna check out more of my classes on this platform and look forward to seeing you in the future, Thanks.