Organizing and Managing Layers
So here we are in Photoshop, and we're just going to go ahead and take a look at how that smiley face we built with the same concept of the transparency layers but right here inside of Photoshop. So as you can see, the bottom layer here is a blank, opaque layer. There is no transparency to this layer. It is solid white. Here would be our face on a layer. Here would be our mouth on a layer. And here are our eyes on a layer. Now, each one of these layers, if we press V for the move tool, we can click on those layers and we can move them around independently and individually without moving the entire face. Now if we wanted to, we could grab and make a selection of multiple things by pressing control or command and clicking on say the mouth and moving them together also. So now that face is now moving around together. If we were to do something like press control E which would merge these two layers, control or command E would merge these two layers and they still have transparency behind ...
them. And now if we take a look at them by theirself, pressing alt or option and clicking on that eyeball, will allow us to see it by itself. So working with layers, these hotkeys are really important. Alt or option and clicking on the eyeball or the preview of a layer will allow you to only look at that individual layer. If I were to press alt or option and click on that layer again, it's now going to show me all of the other layers underneath of it. So it's a temporary way for you to see what that one individual layer looks like to maybe problem solve and troubleshoot. If, by chance, you press alt or option and click on that and then were to maybe turn the preview on on the face, if you go back and press alt or option and click on that eye, it's not going to show everything and reveal all like it would before. That's just the way it's set up. It's set up so that it temporarily only shows you what the last states were that you were looking at. So if you have all of the previews on and you press alt or option and click on those, that eye and that face, that's gonna allow you to see just that individual layer. So if we were to merge both of these layers down, we could press control and E on the face, and we now have these layers merged down if we move this by pressing V for the move tool, we're now moving that face all around the canvas and it's now moving off of the opaque canvas that we have there. There is another type of layer that we can create from this and that's a layer stamp. And a layer stamp is a really powerful tool because what it does is it actually looks at your entire layer stack, it assesses what you've done with all of the work within that layer stack, and it gives you a stamped layer above everything that you've done. It's a crazy kind of hotkey to use. It's control, shift, alt, and E. So you notice that we did control E. Control E will make two layers merged that you have selected. And if we press control, shift, alt, and E, that makes the stamp above the top. So what this stamp is doing is it's not allowing you to see what's underneath everything now because if we look at this stamp, this stamp is a combination of the face and the eyes and the smiley face below and the opaque sheet that we have below. The layer stamp is great when you're working in images where you want to do something to what we call the pixel-based imaged. These, right here, are also pixel-based images that we see right here but they have a transparency behind them. You want to do something to alter the state of the entire layer stack that you're working on, a stamp is a great way to do it because it's temporary. If you don't like what you did, you can always click on that layer and press delete and now it's not there, you just have those eyes, the face, and then the opaque transparency below. So another way to look at layers here is I'm going to go ahead and open up a diagram here, and this diagram is really great for looking at how layers move and how layers interact and how we can organize our layers. So looking at this diagram, we see a blank white background, we see a square, and we see a red circle and a cyan circle. And we can do things with layers so that those layers interact with one another and can be linked with one another and connected with one another. So in the example that we looked in the past, we looked at the smiley face and we moved the eyes individually and we moved the mouth individually and we moved the face individually once we had that together, but you don't necessarily need to merge layers together in order to move them so that they move together like we would with the eyes and the mouth. So with this diagram that we have here, we're just going to take a look at some of the tools that we have within Photoshop in that layers palette that you might not necessarily use quite as much as you'd think. So if we look at the circle here, if I press V for the move tool and I move this circle around, I move it left and I move it right, you can see it's moving independently from the circle below. But if I were to control click and select both of these layers and then right click, I can do something called link layers. And linking these layers, you see it's puts a little chain link next to both of those layers that identifies that those two layers are linked together. They belong to one another. They are bound together. So now if I move these circles to the left and to the right, they actually move together. They don't move independently, they move together. If we press and hold shift while we move those layers, they will move along the path without going up. So I'm actually, you can't see it, but I'm just slightly pushing up on my mouse, and they aren't moving up. What that's doing is that Photoshop is saying you want me to move this either up or down or left or right. If you try to move at an angle, it's not going to move them. They'll just move in parallel or perpendicular formation. When you're doing things with design work, that's really important to know so that as you're aligning text and stuff, when you press and hold that shift, they all stay in that parallel kind of movement. And you'll notice that with a lot of tools. A lot of the tools that you're going to have in Photoshop by pressing things like control and alt and shift while you're using those tools will do different things to those tools, and Photoshop doesn't tell you. It's not like it's saying hey, I'm going into this mode now. You just kind of have to intuitively know that. But the cool thing about this is the magic behind these linked layers is that because they are not merged, I can put other things in between them, and they are still linked and still connected. So if I were to come down to this square and put this square in between them, the square is now overlapping the red circle, right. But if I were to click on our cyan circle and press V for the move tool, look at them moving now. They're moving independently with that square right in between them. Because these are linked, other things can be between them but as we move them, they're gonna move independently from the rest of the canvas, and we did that without having to merge them. So with the smiley face, we merged them, and that would be kind of what we call a destructive step because I'm now losing the capability of them being individually on their own layers whereas now, because these are linked, they're bound but not sandwiched, and things can move independently between them. This would be a non-destructive step to ensure that the things that you want linked together stay linked together without having to be flattened down or merged together. Looking at some of these other tools that we have here, we have the ability to lock transparency. We have the ability to lock image pixels. We have the ability to lock position. And we have the ability to prevent any intersecting into art boards, which I don't do a whole lot with art boards, and then locking those layers. So with these tools, these are locks that will lock certain things in place. If we were to lock this layer and I tried to move it, it's not going to let me move it now. It's saying could not move this because that layer is locked. That's an identifier telling me that these layers need to be exactly where you want them to be. So if I accidentally tried to move them, let's say I'm building something with shapes and text, design work, and I want to ensure that those things do not move because they are the most important piece, I can lock them so that they cannot move now. So I can't move them, I can't do a whole lot of editing to them, they are locked. And the other thing that's really interesting here is locking transparency. So if you lock the transparency and then we use our brush and I try to brush on this circle, you'll see that the transparency around it is locked. So Photoshop is smart enough to know that when you press lock transparency, it wants to make sure that the area around that circle is locked. Watch what happens if I unlock that transparency and then paint, it paints the whole area around it. That's another really interesting thing to note, especially when you're doing design work, it really helps out a lot there. The other thing that we have here is for some of our other layer organizational tools. So if I go into this image, for instance, this image is a composite, it's already been built. If we look at the layers stack here, there's already a lot of work that's going on with this layers stack. So pretty advanced at this point to be talking about this much composite work being on one image. But I did this for a reason. I want to show you how you can simplify your life within Photoshop using things like groups and also using things to look up certain layers. So when you're building a composite, I've done composites that have been upwards of 95 to 110 or 115 layers in one composite that you're building. And you have some of these layers that are so minuscule that they're things that are just like a slight brush that's happening in the background, but you would think that it's not doing a whole lot but it's adding a little bit of maybe light to a source, that's an individual layer. I don't want to do anything else on that layer because that layer is doing something that another layer cannot do. So while I say 100 layers, some of those layers are just the very smallest little thing that's happening in there. So what you want to do is you're building up these layers is you want to make sure that you're labeling things appropriately. Any one of your layers, right here you see circle and you see square, if you double click right there, you can call this circle cyan. So now I know that that circle is cyan. Double click on this one, and now I know that this circle is red. Now, obviously by looking at the colors, it's very easy to see what that is. But when you have a layers stack that's got 100 layers in it and you need to find something quickly and easily, you can do that right here where you see this little thing that says kind. That kind, that's where we want to stay if we're not really doing much searching for anything. But when you click this drop down and we click on something like name, I can call this texture. And now, it's only searching my layers palette for things with the word texture in it. If the word texture isn't in there, it's not going to be visible. But that doesn't mean that it's throwing everything else out. It's a temporary state for me to look up what's happening within that composite so I can see what layers might be a texture layer. So if I need to make any modifications or any edits to that texture layer, I can just open up this drop down if I had layers in there, that's just a group at this point, that would show me anything that is the word texture. So now if I were to go and say effect. This will look at all the layer styles that are happening in any one of those given layers and look it up by does it have a bevel and emboss, does it have a stroke path, does it have an inner shadow, an inner glow, or maybe something like an overlay, and you can see that this has an overlay that's turned off. So now I know, if there's something that's happening in my image and I'm not sure what's going on but I'm like yeah, that might be something to do with an overlay, I can look up anything that might have a color overlay within a layer style. If I were to even go in and say color, I can do a search on anything that has the orange color code that I've given a layer. I can look at anything that has a red color code that I've given that color code a layer. So if we go back over to our example here and I click on this layer and I right click it, here is my color options. I can make this, the closest color to that would probably be blue so we'll make that a blue layer, and we'll click on this and we'll make this a red layer. So now that tells me that these layers are red and blue layers. So if I'm searching for things, this could be one of those things that you do internally where you say, like for me, effect-based things, I like to make effect-based things purple. So as I'm looking through my layers stack, if I see something that's purple, that tells me that that is something that is an effect that's being built up upon my canvas. If I see something that's red, that's typically something that I'm telling myself like hey, if something's going on here, you really want to look at this layer. And I just know that internally like dodging and burning. I might make my dodging and burning a red layer as opposed to a violet or a purple layer. And you can have those internal color codes for yourself very much like you can have your internal color codes for your catalogs of your images as well. The real benefit of working and organizing your layers is to clean things up. As you can see with this composite, this image, if we look at this image, let's go back to the kind here that we have here. These kinds, if we were to just do, just click on the landscape looking, this is going to give us anything that's a pixel-based layer, this'll give us anything that's a text-based layer, and this'll give us anything that's an adjustment layer. So you can turn these on and off to cycle through those pretty quickly as well. But if we look at this image, this was a starting point. It was a little composite I was trying to do for I went to a museum and saw a lot of da Vinci's work and wanted to kind of address his work in one composite. You see here we have these groups, these folder groups. These folder groups are phenomenal for organizing your images and you can do the same thing on something like this. So if I were to remove this square and pull this square down here and I want to put these two circles into their own group so now I know where the circles are, I could click on one of the layers, control or command click on the other layer, and then press command or control G and I now have a group. And that group can have it's own color coded layer as well with color coded layers within it. So if I rename this circles, I now have a group, a folder group, labeled circles so I know exactly where those circles are. On something like this, it's pretty rudimentary, it's pretty simple to know what a circle and a square is. I think we learned that a long time ago, but when you're building up these big composites, I stress the importance of organizing your layers, linking the layers that need to be linked together, understanding how their linked relationship is going to work when you're moving certain linked layers around your canvas. Making sure that you also have the layers labeled appropriately. Things that say layer one, layer two, layer three, that's not very helpful. So make sure that you label those layers as they should be, especially when you're talking about things like adjustment layers, and you have a gradient map, or you have, we'll get into adjustment layers at the end of this, label those so that you know what that effect is doing to your image, not just the fact that it's a gradient map.