Topics Map > Software Guides > Photoshop
Photoshop: Layering & Object Arrangement
Version: Adobe Photoshop CC 2021. Be aware that different versions of Photoshop will vary in appearance and functionality. Full Guides: Photoshop: Images, Photoshop: Graphic Design
Layers in Photoshop are like a stack of sheets, in which each sheet is transparent except for the object(s) contained within it. The transparent areas of layers are see-through to the layer(s) below. The top-most layer in the Layers panel will appear in front of all layers below it and the bottom-most layer will appear as the background. The correct layer must be selected prior to making any adjustments.
Each object or adjustment needs to be on its own layer so that it can be edited separately from the other elements. Having separate layers also prevents accidental alternations of the original image.
Basic Layer Controls:
- To create a new layer, click the New Layer button, which has a plus sign, to the bottom-right in the Layers panel. Create a new layer for each image or element in the document.
- To toggle the visibility of a layer, click the eyeball icon the left of the layer.
- To lock a layer, select the layer and click the lock icon above the list of layers.
- To rename a layer, double-click its name, type the new name, and press Enter. Give each layer a descriptive name to avoid confusion.
- To delete a layer, select it and click the trashcan icon.
- To re-order a layer, click-and-drag it up-or-down the list. Re-order layers to bring objects forward or put them behind other objects. The layers in the image to the right aren’t arranged correctly. The text appears behind the shape because its layer is located under the shape layer. In order to see the text properly, the text layer would need to be clicked-and-dragged on top of the shape layer.
Effects can be quickly applied to an entire layer with Layer Styles. Multiple Layer Styles can be added to each layer, and every style can be customized. Layer Styles are commonly used to add effects to text, shapes, and brush strokes, and add depth to images.
To add a Layer Style:
- Select the desired layer in the Layers panel.
- Click the Layer Style drop-down, which is labeled “fx,” from the bottom of the Layer panel.
- Select an option. The Layer Style window will appear. Style options include:
- Styles: preset textures that can be added over the layer’s content.
- Blending Options: controls how the layer is affected by a painting or editing tool.
- Bevel & Emboss: creates a 3D effect by simulating shadows.
- Stroke: adds a border around the layer’s content.
- Inner Shadow: emanates a shadow from the inside edges of the layer’s content.
- Inner Glow: emanates a glow from the inside edges of the layer’s content.
- Satin: adds a satin texture to the layer’s content.
- Color Overlay: adds a color over the layer’s content. Can be applied to images.
- Gradient Overlay: adds a gradient effect. Can be applied to images.
- Pattern Overlay: adds a pattern over the layer’s content.
- Outer Glow: emanates a glow from the outside edges of the layer’s content.
- Drop Shadow: emanates a shadow from the outside edges of the layer’s content.
To change the opacity of a layer, such as to make it more transparent, select the layer and adjust the Opacity slider in the Layers Panel.
- Photoshop: Information
- Photoshop: Creating a New Document
- Photoshop: Interface Overview
- Photoshop: Undoing Changes & the History Panel
- Photoshop: Layering & Object Arrangement
- Photoshop: Selection Tools
- Photoshop: Painting Brushes
- Photoshop: Cropping
- Photoshop: Resizing
- Photoshop: Masking
- Photoshop: Drawing Shapes
- Photoshop: Using the Pen Tool (Custom Paths)
- Photoshop: Adding Text
- Photoshop: Colors
- Photoshop: Color Balance Adjustment
- Photoshop: Vibrance Adjustment
- Photoshop: Brightness/Contrast Adjustment
- Photoshop: Levels Adjustment (Tonal Range)
- Photoshop: Face Retouching
- Photoshop: Saving & Exporting