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  • Glossary

    Layers Part 3


    Each layer can be set with its own transparency option. The trasparency of each layer is changed by altered by turning down the 'Opacity' setting in the layer palette (encircled in red).

    Back to our squiggle example again. Select layer 2 (the blue squiggle) and change the Opacity option to 30%.

    You will end up with the following picture:

    Since the opacity of Layer 2 is now only 30% we can now see through the blue squiggle. Every single layer can have its own opacity setting, just select the layer you want to change and alter the opacity value at the top of the layer palette.

    Changing a layers opacity is another one of those options that is just too useful! It can be used if you wish to position objects over a background and need to see behind the image. It can be used to create ghosting effects and a whole host of other time saving techniques, but this is not the correct place to go though them all.



    Now you are getting used to using layers you may start getting into a mess. Don't worry, Photoshop allows to to merge layers together. When two or more layers are merged together all the contents of each layer will be pasted into a single layer. There are three main ways to merge layers together, they all appear in the Layer drop-down menu (as seen below).

    There are a few options for merging layers here although some will dissapear from the menu if the situation dictates that using them would be impossible. The merging options are as follows:

    Merge Linked: This option merges all layers that you have previously linked together.

    Merge Down: This merges together all layers below the layer you have selected. Note that this merging also includes the layer you have highlighted at the time.

    Merge Visible: I find that merge visible is very useful option. Just use the eye icon on the layers pallete to make all the layers you do not want merged invisible. Then you can merge all the layers you can still see by choosing 'Merge Visible'.

    Flatten Image: This merges all layers together into a single layer!


    TIP: If you wish to save your picture in another format such as the Jpeg or Gif format you cannot do this unless all the layers have been flattened first. If you wish to save your picture with all the layers intact you must use the Photoshop format *.PSD (PhotoShop Document).

    If you are saving a picture that you have added layers to, but which did not originally have layers, the save with Layers checkbox will not always be checked (see red arrow above). If you wish to save your picture with layers you must make sure this Layers box is checked. It's an annoying feature but that's how it works!

    Since we are talking about save option's there are a few more that can be selected here such as Alpha Channels, Annotations, Spot Colors, ICC Profiles and so on. You can also keep the original picture unchanged and save this picture 'As a Copy'. Basically just check the options you want before you save. If you don't know what these options do then don't worry it doesn't really hurt to keep them all selected just to be safe. The ICC Profile is the only exception to this rule since it makes the picture obey the colour and gamma setup you used on your computer. Keeping this option may make the picture look weird if it is to be edited on another computer. If you are usnsure just keep it anyway, then if you find the profile messes up the colours on another computer just resave the picture again without the profile on that computer. Then when you open it again it will obey the profile of the new computer.



    Lets start getting into the more advanced options now, Layer Modes. Layer Modes control how the content of the layer will look. To change the layer mode first select the layer you want to effect. Then click on the Layer modes drop down menu (encircled in red).

    Up will pop the above options for you to choose from. There are too many options to explain in detail, but to cut a long story short each mode applies a special effect to your layer. For example, if you set the layer mode to "Color" painting over the layer will only be pure colours without shade. This option can be useful, for example, if you wanted to colour in a black and white picture. I suggest you spend a little time testing these effects to get an idea of what they do. I will probably explain them in more detail in future guides.



    This is another biggie with lots of options. Layer blending opotions define how one layer will look when stacked over the top of another. Again it basically offers a whole bunch of special effects that can be applied to the edges of whatever image is in the center of a transparent layer. To illustrate what I mean lets go back to our squiggle picture again.

    Select the layer with the blue squiggle on it, which is Layer 2.

    Right-click and select Blending Options.

    Up will pop a whole bunch of special effects options that can be applied to the layer you selected:

    Again there are too many options to go through here so I suggest you check you play about with the effects for a while. For now we will choose the Drop Shadow effect. Click on the part where it says "Drop Shadow" in the picture above. Don't worry about choosing settings just press OK. Now we have turned


    this:into this:

    Notice how the Drop Shadow effect only works on the layer you selected. Now I suggest you mess about with the other effects for a while before you move on to other things.

    Lets go onto the Layers guide Part 4



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