30 Days of Photoshop - Levels

by Heidi Egerman June. 29, 2019 255 views

Days 5 and 6 of this course give an overview of layers. Using layers will make your file size bigger, but gives you more flexibility and is non-destructive. When you first open a .jpg image you start with a locked background layer. Although I knew I should be using layers, up until now I've not had a comprehensive understanding of how they work and the value they provide for future edits. In the past, I would open my .jpg file and edit using levels or brightness and contrast from the top image dropdown menu. This caused the edits to be made on the original background layer and was more destructive. I also rarely saved my .psd file because they are so large. I now understand the value of working in layers, especially because I intend to do some printing and edits will likely be necessary. It will also be necessary to work on my workflow and filing system.

Without going into all the details I have outlined a few tips that I jotted down as I was watching the video.

  • You don’t need to duplicate the background layer for it will add size to the file. Just leave it locked and work on layers on top of it.
  • You might want to name your layers. You might get unnecessary layers that take up space and are not needed.
  • Be sure you are the right layer when you are trying to do something
  • 'Auto Select Layer' is in the Move tool on the top bar. If this is on, what you select on the screen will automatically be selected in the layers panel. It can be a problem if you have many, many layers. It can get in the way. Therefore, there is a shortcut. When in the move tool, you turn auto select layer off and use ‘crtl’ and click in the area of the layer you want to use. That layer will be highlighted in the layers panel on the right.
  • If you want to see your list of layers, while in the move tool, right click and the list of layers will appear. Helps if you have named them.
  • To use the healing brush for example, instead of making the edit on the background layer, add a new layer and in the menu at the top select ‘sample all layers’; put the results on the blank layer, preserving the layer underneath with no change.
  • You can also drag a layer to another document. If the layer has effects, they will be carried along with it.
  • The type tool creates a layer. There is what is called a 'scrubby slider' at the top that moves to increase/decrease the size of the font.
  • Shape option creates a new layer
  • On many layers you can change the opacity
  • Tip: Free Transform tool. To get it select crtl ‘t’; or you can select edit from the top dropdown menu and select ‘free transform’
  • You can also group layers. Select the layers and use the layers dropdown and select ‘new group from layers’

Above is very simple layered image. I rarely use type, but it was a way to test the functionality of the layers as I was working. The image is from my garden yesterday. The bees are all 'a-buzz' in the lavender and I was able to catch this one with my new 60mm macro lens with no tripod using manual mode. This is progress for me.

This file consists of the locked background layer, two adjustment layers and a type/quote layer.

Side Note: This class is not specific to photographers, but the information was still relevant where layers were concerned. I have a fundamental understanding now about how to use them. Since my images do not generally need a lot of editing, I doubt I will have more than a handful of layers for an image.

A good Creative Live class for photographers is one called: Adobe Photoshop for Photographers: The Essentials. I plan to review this class in the next few weeks as well.

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There are 2 comments , add yours!
Bethany Plonski 1 year, 3 months ago

Thanks so much for sharing what you're learning! I'm still learning to think in layers - it can be a lot to keep track of, but in a way it's nice that everything has its own place too. I didn't realize you can group layers - going to have to look into that!

1 year, 3 months ago Edited
Camellia Staab 1 year, 3 months ago

Lots of information there Heidi. I need to digest. Thanks for sharing what you learned.  Your capture is perfect 60mm works fine smile

1 year, 3 months ago Edited
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