How to use layers in Adobe Photoshop CC

A free video tutorial from Daniel Walter Scott
Adobe Certified Instructor & Adobe Certified Expert
Rating: 4.7 out of 5Instructor rating
34 courses
749,552 students
How to use layers in Adobe Photoshop CC

Lecture description

Hi there, welcome to the first video. In this video we're going to look at how layers work in Photoshop. It's quite fundamental. As a bonus we'll learn the super quick auto fixing photo features in Photoshop

Learn more from the full course

Adobe Photoshop CC – Essentials Training Course

This Adobe Photoshop Essentials course will teach you Photoshop Retouching as well as Photoshop for graphic design.

11:37:20 of on-demand video • Updated February 2024

You will be able to start earning money from your Photoshop Skills.
You will be able to add Photoshop to your CV
You will have over 20 of your own projects to add to your portfolio.
You will create social media post images for Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pintrest & Youtube.
You will be able to mask anything… including the dreaded hair!
Clearcut images.
Create amazing typography.
You will create popular visual styles.
You will create distorted images.
You will create graphics from scratch.
You will retouch photographs like a professional.
You will create a postcard.
Create posters.
Create advertising.
Resize Images.
Build a flyer.
Change the color or images.
Fix the colors in photographs
You will change eye & hair colors.
You will combine 2 photographs to create amazing compositions.
You will put a storm in a tea cup.
You will create text that looks like stone.
You will build a logo with type that wraps around it like a badge.
You will create text that wraps around a woman.
You will build a multipage banner advertising project.
You will create more background in an image from thin air.
You will remove people from images.
You will remove graffiti from a wall.
You will clear cut images of people, shoes & other products.
You will create realistic shadows
You will create text the wraps around colored smoke.
You will build duotone images like the Spotify effect
You will create images with an anaglyph effect
You'll turn your images into realistic oil paintings
You'll know how to add halftone effects to your images.
You will bend images to reveal background images.
You will distort a logo to bend around real life photographs and objects.
You retouch an overweight person to make the appear slim.
You'll build spray paint style graffiti using brushes.
You'll make a galaxy appear out of a mans head.
Create paper cut effects inside of a font.
Build text with 3D paint dripping from it.
You'll retouch a face to move pimples & freckles.
You'll remove dust & scratches from an old photograph.
Change yellow teeth to white teeth.
You'll build a fantasy image where you put an island, ocean & clouds inside a small bottle.
Hi there, welcome to the first video. In this video we're going to look at how layers work in Photoshop. It's quite fundamental. As a bonus we'll learn the super quick auto fixing photo features in Photoshop. They're called Auto Tone contrast and color. What it will do is it will help us really just understand layers properly. You can see, my layers over here... and you can see my super awesome adjustments. All right, let's go do that now in Photoshop. First thing to do is open the file we're going to be working with. We can do that under 'File', and go to 'Open'. What you're looking for is the exercise files you've downloaded. Then find a folder called '01 Layers', open that up. Inside of there should be one called 'layers.jpg'. Click on that, then click 'Open'. Remember, this video is going to do a couple of things. It's going to show us how to use layers which is quite fundamental to Photoshop... but it's also going to introduce one of the most easy photo adjustments... you can do in Photoshop using the automatic features. So we're going to learn both of those. First thing we need to do is... we need to make sure we can see our Layers panel. If you can't see it, go to 'Window', make sure there's a tick next to Layers. I can't see it, there it is. Make sure he's open. You'll see 'Background'. What I'd like to do is instead of just changing this version here... I'd like to create a duplicate of that layer... so that I can make an adjustment... then kind of see the difference between the original and the updated version. That's a really common thing to do in Photoshop. To do that you right click the word... where it says 'Background', and say 'Duplicate Layer'. Now this window appears, and what we'll do is give this a name. We're going to call this 'Auto Tone'. Let's click 'OK'. Now what's happened here? Can you see, down here in my Layers panel... nothing really visually has changed on our screen... but you can see, down here, I have two layers... one called Background, and one called Auto Tone. They're both looking the same. What I want to do is do this automatic adjustment... and you can kind of tell... which one you've got selected, kind of goes a lighter gray. So have that selected, and go up to 'Image', we're going to use 'Auto Tone'. It's one of the really quick easy things you can do. Open up an image, and if, like our original there... if the lights and the shadows, the mid tones aren't all quite nice... this automatic feature will go and adjust them. So that's Auto Tone. What we really came here though is to learn about layers. You can see at the top here, it's a little high... because it's kind of small... but you can see, Auto Tone... you can kind of see, the icon... or this thumb here has changed to this newer version. You can also see, the background has that faded out version. What we can do, imagine you-- when you're looking at layers, you see the top one first... you imagine you're a bird flying above... and you see this one first, and it's blocking out the guy underneath. To turn this top one off and make it visible to see the background... see this little Eye icon here, just click on him. Now that one completely can't be seen, completely transparent. And you can see the background underneath. It's just a good way to turn this eye on and off... to see whether you've made a good adjustment or a bad adjustment. You can go back to that original, you haven't wrecked the original either. You can always go back to it if you like. Next thing I want to do is, let's turn off the eyeball, Auto Tone. Let's click the background layers so it goes this lighter gray. And let's duplicate it again, so right click, go to 'Duplicate Layer'. Let's call this one 'Auto Contrast'. So we looked at automatic tones. That's one of the automatic features. We're going to go through the other two that are quite useful. Real quick and easy as well. So I've got this kind of faded out version, let's go to image. You can see, we've done Tone, let's do Auto Contrast. Now this effect is definitely better than the original... but it probably wasn't as good as Auto Tone. You can see over here, in my Layers panel, I've got Auto Contrast. Let's turn the eyeball off on it so we compare with the original. You can kind of see, this layers stacked here. This one's invisible, so I can't see it. I can turn Auto Contrast off to see the background... but if I turn Auto Tone back on, I'm like, "Good for me, personally." It's hard to see, I guess, when you're watching this video... because this color depends on your screen... but you'll probably notice Auto Tone's a nicer one. Let's look at the last option and compare which automatic feature we like. All the while getting used to layers. So I'm going to turn the top eyeballs off... and have the background selected, right click it, 'Duplicate Layer'. This one is called 'Auto Color'. Let's click 'OK'. Go up to 'Image', let's go to 'Auto Color'. And pretty good, looks pretty close to Auto Tones. If I turn Auto Tone on and off... depending on what resolution you're watching this video in... you might not see very much of a difference. A little slight difference, just kind of maybe, tonal range, one's a bit more... or it's got a warmer feel to it. And Auto Color is just a tiny green tinge to it. A couple of things we've learned-- Let's kind of finish off layers... then we'll talk about these adjustments, and where they're good for. In terms of the layers what I'd like you to do is practice turning on... let's say I wanted to just see Auto Contrast. So I'll turn this top one off. One of the things I guess I like to ask my class when they're live... is like, "Hey guys, I'm turning Auto Color on and off"... "Why is nothing changing?" Everybody goes, "Yeah, we know, Dan," and eventually somebody says... "It's because this one's on top." We're just getting used to this, we're getting started. You can play around with all these guys underneath... and nothing's going to happen... because this guy's on top, he's blocking the view of the other things. Now two other things before we move on from layers... is that you can change the order of them. So let's say that auto-- you want Auto Color at the top. What you can do is, grab Auto Color... by clicking, holding, and dragging the text here. Drag, see it turns into like a little fist, like he's grabbing it. And you can see, little blue line up here, there it is. That will drag it just above contrast. If I keep going, another little blue line up here. You go crazy, it gets lost. You just kind of drag it, just keep an eye out for the blue line. So, at the top there, means Auto Color's on top. Let's say I want Auto Tone on top. Let's say Auto Contrast on top. You can drag it down, drag it up, just looking for those blue lines. The last thing I'd like to mention about layers before we move on is background. Background's special, so when you open up a JPEG or a PNG... often it's called background, and one of the big things is that it is locked. The trouble with that is that... it won't do it, okay? Doesn't like it, so what we need to do is... we need to give it a name. That's the best way to kind of play around with the lock here... or remove the lock. You can double click the word 'Background'. Up here you can give it a name, I'm going to call mine 'Original'. The cool thing about that is that the lock has been removed. I've never in my life gone, "Man, I wish that lock was on there." It's just a pain. So if you're finding like, a bit weird, it is a bit weird, don't know why. Just one of the Photoshop things. So call it Original, now I can move it to the top... and do what I like with it. We'll bring it up here because it's going to become... more and more important as we go through the course. Just something that you can't do the background, because it's locked. You can lock it again by clicking this Lock icon whenever you want to... but, that is it for layers. Now what I will do is - just turn off the original - is these three here. I don't want you to leave this class thinking Auto Tone's always better. It's not always. This is kind of doing-- later on in the course, you'll look at Levels... this is what this is trying to do. Auto Color is dealing with Hue & Saturation. We're just doing it automatically. The thing is, if this was a different image... you might find-- because in this case Auto Contrast didn't do a great job, right? You might find it's actually absolutely perfect for the job you're doing. I find the auto features is really good when I'm-- I don't want to do amazing photo retouching... I just want it to be better. Let's say I'm uploading photos to my Facebook... or a business web gallery, and I just want them to be better. So I'm going to open it up in Photoshop... smash away at Auto Tone... because I figured out that was the best one for my kind of photo shoot. Then just keep doing it and saving them... so I don't have to go through and do any hard core adjustments... that we're going to do a bit later. So just quick and easy... but don't think Auto Tone is better than Auto Contrast. It really depends on your images. Last thing we'll do is we're going to save this file. So we're going to go to 'File', and hit 'Save'. Something strange is going to happen. It's not going to save it. It was called layers.jpg, you can see at the top left here... but because we've added layers, this is a specific Photoshop feature... JPEGs can't have layers. So it needs to be saved as a different format. And Photoshop is clever, and says, you need to be PSD. Now if you're on a Mac like me, yours might look like this. That's fine... but see this little icon here, just better if it's opened up. I'm going to make mine a little bit smaller as well. If you're on a PC, it's already open. On a Mac, just click that to open it up. You don't need to change anything. We're going to call ours 'layers.psd'. All it means is it's going to be very similar to the last one... except it's got this little bit in here. The file size is going to be a bit bigger... but it's great, because it's got all these layers... that we can go and turn on and off later on. Let's save it as 'layers.psd', and click 'Save'. Now this pops up, we might as well cover this here. Maximize Compatibility, this is always on, you never want-- just means that this is likely to open in older versions of formats... sorry, older versions of Photoshop.. So if you're sending this to somebody who has CS6 or CS5... it's more than likely to kind of open. The file size gets a tiny bit bigger... but it's not worth turning that off to save the file size because... just means somebody might not be able to open it up. You can click 'Don't show again', I can't, because I am a trainer... and I need to show this to everybody that's new, a pain in the bum. Let's just click 'OK', and ignore that. I'm not going to mention it again for the course. All right, let's go to 'File', 'Close'... and move on to our next video.