Posts tagged "Layers"

August 29, 2017

3, 2, 1, Photoshop! 10 Tips for Working with the Layers Panel

Discover ten essential tips for working with layers in Photoshop  in this episode of 3, 2, 1, Photoshop (10 Tips for Working with the Layers Panel ), including unlocking the Background, renaming, adding, deleting and duplicating layers, changing blend mode, opacity, visibility, color and customize Layer panel preview options.

5:45 AM Permalink
August 17, 2017

Shortcuts for Working with Layer Groups in Photoshop CC

Here are some tips and  shortcuts for working more effectively with Layer Groups:

  • To create an empty Layer Group, click the Create Layer Group (the folder) icon at the bottom of the Layers panel. The Group will be added above the currently targeted layer. If no layers are targeted, Photoshop will add the group to the top of the layer stack.
  • Command + G (Mac) | Control + G (Win) creates a new Layer Group while simultaneously placing selected layers into that group. The group will be added above the topmost currently targeted layer.
  • Command + Shift + G (Mac) | Control + Shift + G (Win) will ungroup layers.

Adding Layers to Layer Groups

  • When adding a layer to a Layer Group, Photoshop positions the layer at the top of the layer stack (with in the group).
  • Adding the shift key when releasing the mouse will position the layer at the bottom of the stack (within the group).

Repositing Layers

  • When changing the stacking order layers in the Layers panel, I found it difficult to predict if the layer I was dragging was going to land within a Layer Group or outside of it. In the example below, I want to drag the “paper” layer above the “walnuts” layer, but I didn’t want to include it within the “texture” Layer Group.


  • If you look carefully at the next illustration you can see that the hand icon is positioned over the bottom layer in the Layer Group. If I release the mouse at that point, the “paper” layer would be added within the “texture” Layer Group.


  • Instead, if I position the curser a bit lower (below the baseline of the Layer Group), and release the mouse (as it’s positioned in the next illustration), the layer will be repositioned above the “walnuts” layer but not within the “texture” Layer Group.

  • Note: Another way to be sure that the “paper” layer wasn’t included in the texture Layer Group would have been to close the  Layer Group before repositioning the layer.

Duplicating Layer Groups

  • Command + J (Mac) | Control + J (Win) will duplicate the selected Layer Group(s).
  • Option -drag (Mac) | Alt -drag (Win) the Layer Group (in the Layers panel) to simultaneously duplicating and repositioning a Layer Group.
  • Control -click (Mac) | right mouse -click (Win) on the Layer Group and select Duplicate Group.

Deleting Layer Groups in Photoshop

  • With the Layer Group selected, tap the Delete key or Option -click (Mac) | Alt -click (Win) the trash can icon.
  • To delete a Layer Group but keep the layers, choose Layer > Delete > Group or click the trash can icon. Either method displays a dialog with an option to delete “Group Only” (which ungroups the layers within the group and removes the Layer Group while leaving the Layers in tack).
  • Command -drag (Mac) | Control -drag (Win) a Layer Group to the trash can icon to delete a Layer Group without deleting it’s contents.

Selecting Layer Groups

  • To automatically select Layer Groups using the Move tool, enable the Auto-Select box in the Options bar and choose Group from the pull-down menu.

Nesting Layer Groups

  • You can nest layer Layer Groups up to 10 groups deep. That should help organize even the most complex documents!

Displaying the Contents of Layer Groups in Photoshop

  • Command (Mac) | Control (Win) -click the disclosure triangle next to a Layer Group to expand/collapse all Layer Groups in the document.
  • Option (Mac) | Alt (Win)  -click the disclosure triangle to expand/collapse all groups nested within the current Layer Group.
  • Option + Command (Mac) | Alt + Control (Win) -click the disclosure triangle to expand and collapse all groups (nested or not).
  • Control (Mac) | right mouse (Win) -click the Group’s disclosure triangle and choose “Close/Open this Group” or “Close/Open all Other Groups”.

And, if you’re looking for eight reasons to use Layer Groups, be sure to watch this short video that I recently posted:

5:20 AM Permalink
June 20, 2017

Fundamental Layers Panel Tips and Techniques

The Background Layer

  • Clicking the lock icon next to the Background layer on the Layers panel converts the Background to a layer enabling transparency, repositioning  in the image area and changing the stacking order.
  • Double click the Background layer to display the New Layer dialog for additional options (renaming, color coding etc.).

Renaming Layers

  • To rename a single layer, double click the layer’s name in the Layers panel.
  • To rename multiple layers, rename one and then, without pressing the enter key to apply the new name, press the Tab key to move to the layer below. Shift + Tab moves to the layer (above).

Adding New Layers to a Document in Photoshop

  • Command + Shift + N (Mac) | Control + Shift + N (Win) will add a new layer and display the New Layer dialog for additional options (layer name, blend mode etc.).
  • Command + Option + Shift + N (Mac) | Control + Alt + Shift + N (Win) adds a new layer bypassing the New Layer dialog.
  • By default, new layers are added above the currently selected layer. Command -click (Mac) | Control -click (Win) the New Layer icon (on the Layers panel) to create a new layer below the currently selected layer. This shortcut is helpful for example, when adding a layer that you don’t want to be included in a Clipping Group.

Deleting Layers

  • To delete a layer(s), select it in the Layers panel and tap the delete key.
  • To delete hidden layers from the Layers panel, use the fly-out and select Delete Hidden Layers.

Duplicating Layers

  • With the Move tool selected, Option -drag (Mac) | Alt -drag (Win) a layer in the image area to duplicate (copy) the selected  layer(s).
  • To duplicate a layer using the Layers panel, select the layer(s) and Option -drag (Mac) | Alt -drag (Win) the layer until a solid line between the layers appears and release.
  • Command + J (Mac) | Control + J (Win) duplicates the selected layer(s). Note: this shortcut works for Layer Groups as well.
  • To prevent Photoshop from adding “copy” and a sequence number to a duplicated file name, use the Layers panel fly-out menu to select Panel Options and uncheck Add “copy” to Copied Layers and Groups.

Drag and Drop Between Open Documents

  • To duplicate layers from one document to another, select the layers in the Layers panel and drag from one document window to another. When the “destination” document becomes highlighted, release to “drop” the layers.
  • Holding the Shift key while dragging and dropping a layer(s) between two documents will place the “dropped” layer(s) into the center of the destination document. If there is a selection in the destination document, holding the Shift key while dragging and dropping an image will drop it into the center of the selection.
  • When working with tabbed documents, use the Move tool to drag layers from the image area or the Layers panel, on top of the “destination” document’s tab. When the “destination” document pops forward, position the cursor over the image area and release to “drop” the layers.

Changing the Blend mode of a Layer

  • To quickly cycle through a the Blend Modes select the Move tool (or any tool that does not have Blend Mode options), hold the Shift key and press “+” (plus) or “-” (minus) to move forward or backwards through the list.
  • In addition, each blend mode has a unique keyboard shortcut.  They all begin with Option + Shift (Mac) | Alt + Shift (Win) then a single letter.
    • Normal + N
    • Dissolve + I
    • Behind + Q
    • Clear + R
    • Darken + K
    • Multiply + M
    • Color Burn + B
    • Linear Burn + A,
    • Lighten + G
    • Screen + S
    • Color Dodge + D
    • Linear Dodge + W
    • Overlay + O
    • Soft Light + F
    • Hard Light + H
    • Vivid Light + V
    • Linear Light + J
    • Pin Light + Z
    • Hard Mix + L
    • Difference + E
    • Exclusion + X
    • Hue+ U
    • Saturation+ T
    • Color  + C,
    • Luminosity + Y

Changing the Opacity of a Layer(s)

  • To change the Opacity of a layer(s), select the Move tool (or any tool that does not have Opacity options), and press a numeric key to add the percentage of the pressed number. (1 = 10%, 2= 20% etc. and 0 = 100%).
  • Pressing two numbers quickly will give you that exact amount (5 + 4 = 54%).
  • Pressing 00 (zero-zero) decreases the opacity to 0%.
  • Adding the Shift key will change the Fill amount.

Toggling Layer Visibility in Photoshop

  • Clicking the eye icon next to any layer on the Layers panel will hide/show the layer.
  • Option -click (Mac) |  Alt -click  (Win) the eye icon in the Layers panel to toggle visibility of all other layers.
  • Command + “,” (comma) (Mac) | Control + “,” (comma) (Win) toggles the visibility of the currently selected layer(s).
  • Command + Option +  “,” (comma)  (Mac) | Control + Alt +  “,” (comma)  (Win) shows all layers (regardless of which layers are selected).
  • Control -click (Mac) | right -click (Win) the eye icon and select “Show/Hide all other layers” to make all layers visible (regardless of which layers  were previously visible).

Merging Layers

  • Command + E (Mac) | Control + E (Win) will merge selected layers.
The three selected layers are merged into a single layer.

The three selected layers are merged into a single layer.

  • Command + Shift + E (Mac) | Control + Shift + E (Win) will merge all visible layers (hidden layers will remain untouched).
The top two Layers aren't merged because they are not visible.

The top two Layers aren’t merged because they are hidden.

  • Command + Option + E (Mac) | Control + Alt + E (Win) creates a new layer and pastes a “flattened” version of the selected layers on it (the key to this shortcut is that you have to have multiple layers selected)!
The information from the two selected layers are copied to an new layer and merged.

A flattened copy of the two selected layers are merged onto a new layer.

  • Command + Option + Shift + E  (Mac) | Control + Alt + Shift + E  (Win) does one of two things:
    •  If the top most layer in the Layers panel is an empty (blank) layer, Photoshop will create a flattened copy of all visible layers and place the merged/flattened information onto the top layer. 
    • If the top layer  in the Layers panel has content (is not empty/blank), then Photoshop will create a new layer and merge a copy of all visible layers onto the newly created layer. 
A flattened copy of all visible layers is pasted onto a new layer.

A flattened copy of all visible layers is merged onto a new layer (regardless of what layer(s) is selected).

  • When Merging layers, if any of the layers that are going to be merged have been manually renamed (i.e. you renamed them), Photoshop will keep that custom layer name and use it as the new merged layer name. If you have created custom names for multiple layers that are all being merged together, then Photoshop will take the top-most custom named layer.

Copying Merged Layers (and Groups)

  • Command + Shift + C (Mac) | Control + Shift + C (Win) with an active selection in the image, copies a merged view of all visible layers onto the clipboard.

Color Coding Layers

  • Control -click (Mac) | Right -click (Win) on a selected layer(s) and choose a highlight color from the context sensitive menu. Note: the Background must be converted to a layer to color-code.

Layer Thumbnail Preview Options

  • To change Layer thumbnail size, from the Layers panel fly-out choose Panel Options. Choose a large size to more easily see the contents of the layer. Choose a small size to see more layers in a complicated document. Note: if your image is wider than it is high, selecting the smaller thumbnail sizes might display the generic icon for Adjustment layers).
  • Change Thumbnail Contents – select  “Layer Bounds” to display a preview image of only the area in the layer that contains content – this option typically provides a larger preview of layers containing minimal content, Select “Entire Document” to display the layer content in relationship to the entire document (this option typically provides a smaller preview of layers containing significant areas of content.

Thumbnail Content set to Entire Document.

Thumbnail Content set to Layer Bounds.

Locking and Unlocking Layers

  • Several layer attributes can be locked including Transparent Pixels, Image Pixels, and/or Position
    • Locking Transparency enables editing of image information but not transparent areas. 
    • Locking the Image Pixels prohibits any pixel editing (painting etc.).
    • Locking Position prevents the layer from being moved.
  • Command + / (Mac) | Control + / (Win) toggles between locking and unlocking all selected layers.
  • Command + Option +/ (Mac) | Control + Alt +  / (Win) unlocks all layers (except the Background layer), regardless of which layers are selected.
  • If a layer has locked attributes, pressing the “/” key will toggle the lock for those attributes (instead of toggling the lock for all attributes). If the layer was unlocked to begin with, then all attributes will be locked.

Linking Layers

  • When layers are linked together, commands applied to one layer will also be applied to linked layers (when possible). Linking can be helpful when working with complex documents in eliminating the need to have to reselect layers again and again when multiple layers require identical changes.
  • To link two or more layers, select them in the Layer’s panel and click the Link icon.
  • For increased efficiency,  assign a custom keyboard shortcut to Link/Unlink Layers (Choose Edit > Keyboard Shortcuts. In Shortcuts For, select Panels, Menus. Then under Layers, scroll down to Link/Unlink Layers.)
  • Shift-click on the link icon to temporarily disable linking of a given layer.
  • The rules for linking layers are a bit complex because Layers can only belong to one link set at a time. They are as follows:
    • Selecting a layer that is linked will show the link icon on all the other layers to which it is linked. 
    • To unlink a single layer from a link set, simply select the layer and click the link icon. If there were other linked layers, they remain linked. 
    • If none of the layers selected contain linked and you click the link icon, all layers become linked – creating a new link set.
    • If the layers selected contain only linked layers, regardless of whether they’re all in the same link sets, clicking the link icon unlinks everything selected. 
    • If the layers selected contain at least some linked layers within the selection, plus any number of unlinked layers, clicking the link icon extends the link set to include the unlinked layers in the selection.
    • If the layers selected contains linked layers from two or more link sets plus at least one unlinked layer, everything in the selection gets put into a “new” linked set.
5:16 AM Permalink
April 11, 2017

Content Aware Fill – Control the Source in Photoshop CC

When removing unwanted objects in an image, selecting the area to be removed and then choosing  Edit > Fill with the Contents set to Content Aware, can magically fill in areas using surrounding information. However, in some images, Photoshop may select and fill with areas that you wish it wouldn’t. In order to tell Photoshop to ignore certain areas of an image, add a layer mask and paint in the mask to hide the areas that you don’t want Photoshop to use as a fill source (in other words, if you can’t see the information, then neither can the Content Aware Fill technology). When finished, discard the layer mask without applying.

Note: make sure to run the Content Aware Fill on the Layer, not the Layer Mask.

5:01 AM Permalink
February 8, 2017

Video – Using Blend Modes to Emulate an Image Transfer Effect in Photoshop CC

Discover how to emulate an image transfer effect in this free video (Using Blend Modes to Emulate an Image Transfer Effect), from Photoshop CC  Essential Training on  (This video was free before and I didn’t include it in my training series).


4:46 AM Permalink
November 18, 2016

Advanced Photoshop CC Tips for Photography and Compositing

I wanted to share with you my “Advanced Photoshop CC Tips for Photography and Compositing” presentation from earlier this month at Adobe MAX. Enjoy!


5:03 AM Permalink
November 7, 2016

Photoshop 2017 Essential Training: The Basics – Live on

I’m excited to announce that my new Photoshop 2017 Essential Training: The Basics course is now live on!


Here are the details:

Learning how to use Photoshop efficiently and effectively is the best investment you can make to get the most out of your pixels. Photoshop CC Essential Training: The Basics filters out the noise and complexity so that you understand the basic features and concepts you need to use Photoshop effectively, whether you’re a photographer or designer.

Julieanne Kost reviews the basics of digital imaging, from bit depth to image size, and shows how to use different Photoshop tools to crop and retouch photos, while always maintaining the highest-quality output. She shows the most efficient ways to perform common tasks, including working with layers, making selections, and masking. Along the way, you will learn the secrets of nondestructive editing using Smart Objects, and master features such as adjustment layers, blend modes, filters, and much more—increasing your productivity every step of the way.

Topics include:
• Opening files in Photoshop, Bridge, and Lightroom
• Arranging your workspace
• Modifying keyboard shortcuts
• Changing color mode, bit depth, and document size
• Cropping and straightening images
• Working with layers and layer masks
• Using brushes
• Making detailed selections
• Retouching
• Editing images with the Content-Aware tools
• Using blend modes
• Creating Smart Objects
• Using adjustment layers to change color, tone, contrast, and saturation
• Applying filters

If you’re looking for more information, you can check out all of my courses here including:

Bridge CC Essential Training

Adobe Camera Raw Essential Training

Photoshop 2017 Essential Training: Design

Photoshop 2017 Essential Training: Photography

Introduction to Photo Compositing

The Art of Photoshop Compositing

Photoshop CS6 Essential Training


And did you know that you can watch these videos off-line by using the desktop or mobile app?


5:01 AM Permalink
October 31, 2016

Delicate Mask Clean-Up in Photoshop CC

After adding a layer mask to hide portions of a layer, it can sometimes be difficult to determine if there are any small bits of the layer that have been accidentally left behind. In this case, it might be helpful to temporarily add a layer effect such as a bright red stroke ( Layer > Layer Style > Stroke, and click the color swatch to choose a vibrant color) . The stroke will now appear around any small areas of the mask that you may need to clean up. When finished, simply delete the layer effect).

5:38 AM Permalink
October 25, 2016

Double Check your Layer Mask in Photoshop CC

When working on intricately composited, multi layered documents, I often find it useful to check each of the layer masks before finalizing the image. To do this, Option  (Mac) / Alt (Win) -click  on the mask thumbnail in the Layers panel to display it. With the mask visible, check to see if there are any unwanted awkward transitional areas that might not have been visible in the complex composite (a sharp edge from a selection or hard edge brush for example).

5:05 AM Permalink
October 17, 2016

Making Selections on Layers with Masks in Photoshop CC

If you use a Smart Filter’s mask to hide the effects of a Smart Filter, Photoshop will still make selections based on the filtered content – even though it is hidden.

Here is the original photo of an Iceberg. I’ve converted it to a smart object so that I can add the Path Blur filter as a Smart Filter.


Below shows after adding the Path Blur (listed as Blur Gallery on the Layers panel) as a Smart Filter. Notice that the entire layer is blurred.


I drew a linear gradient in the Smart Filter’s mask to reveal the Path Blur in the water, but hid it from the iceberg.


Using the Quick Select tool, I expected Photoshop to easily select the sky, but it selected the iceberg as well (because Photoshop applies the blur to the entire layer – the mask was only  hiding the filter).


Hiding the Path Blur (by toggling off the eye icon next to Blur Gallery), enabled the Quick Select tool to easily select the sky.


In the final image below, I added the new sky layer, used the selection to add a mask so that they sky wouldn’t overlap the iceberg, and toggled back on the visibility next to the Blur Gallery to display the Path Blur filter in the water.


4:50 AM Permalink
July 11, 2016

Document Layer Count in Photoshop CC 2015.5

To quickly view the number of layers in a document, click the chevron to the right of the status box (at the bottom of the image preview area) and choose Layer Count.

2016_07_10Layer Count

Or, use the flyout menu on the Info panel to enable Layer Count. In addition, the Info panel has the option to Always Show Composite Values.



5:02 AM Permalink
June 15, 2016

Blending Layer Groups in Photoshop

Layer Groups are, by default, set to display blending effects (such as opacity, blend modes etc.) just like any other layer in Photoshop. For example, if a layer in a Layer Group has its blend mode is set to “Multiply”, it will be multiplied (blended) with all other layers below it. In this default state, clicking on the Layer Group in the Layers panel displays “Pass Through” as the Layer Group’s blend mode (i.e: any blending applied to layers within the group is “passing through” the group to be applied to the layers below it).


Each Layer’s blend mode is set to multiply. The Layer Group is set to Pass Through.

Each Layer’s blend mode is set to multiply. The Layer Group is set to Pass Through.

To change this default behavior and limit the blending between layers to only those layers within the Layer  Group, target the Layer Group in the Layers panel and set the Layer Group’s blend mode to “Normal”. Note: the circles are still multiplied within the Layer Group (if each layer was set to Normal instead of multiply, all of the circles would appear the same color, but not the Background because the Background is not in the Layer Group).

Each Layer’s blend mode is set to multiply. The Layer Group is set to Normal.

Each Layer’s blend mode is set to multiply. The Layer Group is set to Normal.


5:05 AM Permalink
June 14, 2016

Clipping Masks in Photoshop

Clipping masks are most commonly used when an adjustment needs to be applied to a single layer (or Layer Group) in a document. For example, if you have a triptych of images (each on their own layer) within a single document and need to adjust only one of the images, you can add an adjustment layer and “clip” it so that it only effects the single image (layer).


The original document has three photos on three different layers. The middle layer needed to be adjusted independently from the ones on either side.

To create a clipping mask, add the adjustment layer, then click the Clipping Mask icon at the bottom of the Properties panel. As you modify the adjustment layer, it will only effect the layer that it is “clipped” to. Visually, you will know that the layers are clipped because the bottom most layer’s name will be underlined in the Layers panel, and the clipped layer(s) will be indented with an arrow pointing downwards towards the base layer. You can clip more than one layer to a base layer and you can clip layers to layer groups as well!



To isolate the effects of the curves adjustment layer, it’s clipped to the photo below it.

Another use of clipping masks is to clip content such as a photo to a shape such as type. In order to do this, put the type layer under the photo layer on the Layers panel, target the type layer (by clicking in it in the Layers panel)  and select Layer > Create Clipping Mask.

You can also create a clipping mask using the following shortcuts:

• Select the layer to be clipped and use Command + Opt + G (Mac) | Control + Alt + G (Win) to create a Clipping Mask.

• On the Layers panel, hold the Option (Mac) | Alt (Win) key and position the cursor over the line that separates the two layers in the Layers panel. When you see the icon switch to a downward pointing arrow next to a rectangle, click to create a Clipping Mask.

5:18 AM Permalink
April 26, 2016

Paste Into a Selection in Photoshop

If you have an active selection in your document (marching ants) and have content on the clipboard, selecting Edit > Paste Special > Paste Into will paste the content from the clipboard onto a new layer  and automatically convert the selection into a Layer mask!

Command + Option + Shift + V (Mac) | Control + Alt + Shift + V (Win) is the shortcut for Paste Into.


Image with active selection.



Selection converted to a layer mask after choosing Edit > Paste Special > Paste Into.

5:07 AM Permalink
April 25, 2016

Targeting a Layer Mask in Photoshop

Command + \ (Mac), Control + \ (Win) targets a layer mask.

Command + 2 (Mac), Control + 2 (Win) targets the layer.

4:54 AM Permalink