Posts tagged "Layers"

April 6, 2016

Double Check the Layer Mask in Photoshop

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 -click (Mac) / Alt -click (Win) on the mask thumbnail in the Layers panel to display the mask in the image area. With the mask visible, check to see if there are any unwanted or awkward transitional areas that might not have been visible in the complex composite (a sharp edge from a selection or a small area unknowingly left unpainted, for example).

6:04 AM Permalink
March 15, 2016

Preview Adjustment Layer Changes in Photoshop

While making changes to an image using an adjustment layer, hold the “\” (backslash) key to toggle between the before state (when you started making changes) and the current state (the changes you’ve made).

5:25 AM Permalink
January 28, 2016

Unifying Images Through Color in Photoshop

When creating composite images, I am often trying to unify multiple elements that were photographed at different times, in different locations, under different light conditions. One of the techniques that I use to establish consistency throughout the disparate elements is to use one of the source images as a color overlay for the entire canvas. In this example, I wanted to use the color from the wings layer to unite the other elements (such as the overly saturated table).



First, I selected the wings layer, duplicated it, and repositioned it at the top of the layer stack.

First, I selected the wing layer, duplicated it and positioned it at the top of the layer stack.
To resize the layer, I selected Edit > Free Transform > Scale (so that it would cover the entire canvas).

To resize the layer, I selected Edit > Free Transform > Scale so that it would cover the entire canvas.
On the Layers panel, I changed the Layer’s blend mode to Color.



I selected Filter > Blur > Gaussian to remove detail, while still maintaining the color.



Then, I chose Edit > Free Transform, to flip the layer and reposition and resize the layer as needed.



Finally, I added a Layer Mask and used the Brush tool to paint with black to hide the color from areas such as the figure.


Note: If you want to use more than one layer as the source for your “color”, select the desired area (using the marquee tool or whatever tool works) and choose Edit > Copy Merged to copy the information to the clipboard. Then, choose Edit > Paste. Photoshop will create a new layer that you can reposition, resize, etc. as needed.

Before and after unifying eh composite using color.

Before and after unifying the composite using color.

For more information about compositing images in Photoshop, be sure to check out my two training courses on

Introduction to Compositing

The Art of Photoshop Compositing

5:26 AM Permalink
January 25, 2016

Copying Merged Layers (and Groups)

Command + Shift + C (Mac) | Control + Shift + C (Win) copies a merged version of all visible layers within the selection onto the clipboard.

Option + Command + Shift + E (Mac) | Alt + Control + Shift + E (Win) , pastes a merged copy (of all visible layers) on a new layer above the topmost currently selected layer.

5:35 AM Permalink
January 21, 2016

Selecting Layer Groups with the Move Tool in Photoshop

To automatically select Layer Groups (instead of individual layers), with the Move tool selected, check the Auto-Select box in the Options bar and choose Group from the pull-down menu.

4:18 PM Permalink
January 18, 2016

Deleting Layer Groups in Photoshop

To delete a Layer Group, select Layer > Delete > Group or, with the Layer  Group selected on the Layers panel, click the trash can icon. Either method displays a dialog with the options to delete the “Group and Contents” (which deletes both), “Group Only” (which removes any Layer  Groups but leaves the layers), or “Cancel”.

To delete the Layer Group and all of its contents while bypassing the dialog select the Layer Group on the Layers panel and either drag the Layer Group to the trashcan icon or, Option -click (Mac) | Alt -click (Win) the trashcan icon.

Command  -drag (Mac) | Control  -drag (Win) a Layer Group to the trashcan icon to delete a Layer Group without deleting its contents.

5:24 AM Permalink
January 15, 2016

Duplicating Layer Groups in Photoshop

Here are three easy ways to duplicate a Layer Group in Photoshop:

1) With a Layer Group targeted in the layers panel, Select Layer > Duplicate Group.

2) Option -drag (Mac) | Alt -drag (Win) the Layer Group in the Layers panel until you see a heavy black line between the layers and release.

3) Use the context sensitive menu – Control -click (Mac) | right-mouse click (Win) on the Layer Group and select Duplicate Group.

5:20 AM Permalink
January 14, 2016

Adding Layer Groups in Photoshop

Layer Groups are an excellent way to organize a complex multilayered document. 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 adds the group to the top of the layer stack.

To create a new Layer Group while simultaneously placing targeted layers into that group Group select Layer > Group Layers or drag the targeted layers (in the Layers panel) to the New Group icon at the bottom of the Layers panel, or use the keyboard shortcut Command (Mac) / Control (Win) + G.  The group will be added above the topmost currently targeted layer.

To ungroup layers select Layer > Ungroup Layers or use the keyboard shortcut Command + Shift + G (Mac) | Control + Shift + G (Win).

5:16 AM Permalink
January 11, 2016

Drag and Drop to the Center of a Document in Photoshop

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.

5:59 AM Permalink
January 5, 2016

Adding Layers to Layer Groups in Photoshop

When dragging and dropping a layer into a Layer group, Photoshop positions the layer at the top of the Layer stack (within the group). Holding the Shift key when releasing the mouse will position the layer at the bottom of the stack (within the group).

5:16 AM Permalink
November 23, 2015

More Shortcuts for Targeting Layers via the Keyboard in Photoshop

• Option + “[“ or “]” (Mac) | Alt + “[“ or “]” (Win) targets the layer above or below the currently targeted layer.

• Option + Shift + “] “or + “[“ (Mac) | Alt + Shift + “] “or + “[“ (Win) adds the next layer up or down to the targeted layer(s) (note when you get to the top or bottom of the layer stack, Photoshop will “wrap around” to continue adding/subtracting layers).

• Option  + “,“ or “.”  (Mac) | Alt  + “,“ or “.” (Win) targets the bottom/top -most layer.

• Option + Shift + “,“ or “.”  (Mac) | Alt + Shift + “,“ or “.”  (Win) targets all layers that fall between the currently targeted layer to the top or bottom of the layer stack.

Note: these shortcuts are essential when recording actions as they help to select layers, but do not record the specific “name” of the layer in the action.

5:01 AM Permalink
November 20, 2015

Moving Layers in Photoshop

Command + “[“ or “]” (Mac) | Control + “[“ or “]” (Win) moves selected layers up or down.  This is a very useful shortcut when recording actions as the specific name of the layer is not recorded.

5:02 AM Permalink
November 19, 2015

Color-coding Layers in Photoshop

Control-click (Mac)/ right-click (Win) on the eye icon or the layer thumbnail on the Layers panel to color-code a layer. Note: the Background must be converted to a layer to color-code (click the Lock icon in the Layers panel to convert it to a layer).

5:31 AM Permalink
October 30, 2015

Viewing Layer Masks in Photoshop

To view a Layer mask, Option -click (Mac) / Alt -click (Win)  on the mask thumbnail in the Layers panel.   Tapping the  “\”(backslash) toggles the display of a layer mask on and off (as a red rubylith overlay).  Looking at the Channels panel, you can see that this shortcut toggles the channels visibility.

5:04 AM Permalink
October 29, 2015

Targeting the Layer Mask in Photoshop

Command (Mac) / Control (Win) + “\” (backslash) targets the layer mask in the Layers panel. Command (Mac) / Control (Win) + 2 targets the layer.

5:03 AM Permalink