One of the most underrated tools in Adobe Photoshop is the versatility of its very own Photoshop layers. Layers in Photoshop are much more than what they seem and understanding how and when to use them can kick your photo editing skills up a notch quicker than you can export your next batch of photos. We’re going to take you through a basic understanding of the different types of Photoshop layers and some of the best ways to use them in all of your upcoming creative projects.
What Are Photoshop Layers?
You’re probably familiar with the standard Image Layer that appears in your Layers Panel as Background when you import an image to start a new project, but this is rarely the only type of layer you work within Photoshop.
The other types of Photoshop Layers you may use are:
- New Layer
- Duplicate Layer
- Text Layer
- Adjustment Layer
The New Layer creates a blank, transparent layer. The Duplicate Layer creates a copy of the layer you have selected. A Text Layer initiates the Text Tool and “types” your text onto its own individual layer. Finally, an Adjustment Layer makes a transparent layer that you can apply effects/edits to that will directly affect your background layer.
All of these will show up in the Layers Panel as you add them to your project. The layers tool is immensely powerful to a creator because it provides the ability to isolate individual parts of your content. Utilizing your different layer types is also a key way to keeping your workflow organized.
How to Use Photoshop Layers
Each layer type has its own unique function within Photoshop. There’s also a time to use certain layer types over others. We use layers in Photoshop because they do not alter your original photo, you are in control of what your layers affect and interact with and overall, they make for cleaner and more efficient edits—and we know creators, like you, are always on the move.
So—you’ve got your image uploaded into Photoshop and you’re ready to start editing using your layers. Head to the bottom of your Layers Panel where you will see a toolbar with the Add New Layer icon.
When you click on this icon, an extensive list of Adjustment Layers will appear. Once you select the one you’d like to apply to your photo it will show up in your Layers Panel. The property controls for the adjustment will also appear in your workspace. Adjustment Layers serve as an efficient and non-destructive way of editing your photo. Since each different adjustment is its own layer—you’re able to control exactly what you want to, without changing the entire composition of the photo. Again, your original photo remains unedited which is always a safe bet. Since they’re effects applied on a transparent layer, these Adjustment Layers do not cover each other up—instead, they work together.
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When you’re ready to add text to your image, select the Text Tool from the toolbar and drag to create a text box on your image. The Text Layer will appear in your Layers Panel with the text you have typed on your image. When you select this layer you are able to alter your text size, font, color, and other properties. You can also apply Adjustment Layers to the Text Layer to add effects such as a Drop Shadow or Inner Glow.
If you want to make any edits such as refining the Clarity of your photo, touching up skin blemishes, wrinkles, sharpening the photo or using the Clone Tool—use a Duplicate Layer to make those edits. A Duplicate Layer can also be used to cover up a layer depending on its placement in the Layers Panel. Go up to Layer > Duplicate Layer or use CMD/CTRL J to achieve this.
Photoshop layers are a powerful tool. Once you start using them, you more than likely won’t stop. They save you time, keep your workflow organized, and help you achieve that picture perfect look we’re always shooting for. If you want to try out your hand at using Photoshop layers, our library is packed with fresh stock images for you to download. Start off the new year with an awesome new project.