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Layers & Simple Selections

Lesson 17 from: Learn How to Use Photoshop Elements

Khara Plicanic

Layers & Simple Selections

Lesson 17 from: Learn How to Use Photoshop Elements

Khara Plicanic

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Lesson Info

17. Layers & Simple Selections


Class Trailer

Class Introduction


Understand How Elements Works


Importing Images


Workspace Basics: Organizer


Workspace Basics: Editor


Tonal Adjustments in Quick Fix


Color Adjustments in Quick Fix


Apply Black & White Filters


Sharpen an Image


Fix Red Eye & Pet Eye


Straighten an Image in Quick Fix


Explanation of Photoshop Elements


Basic Cropping in Quick Fix


Guided Edit Overview


Guided Edit: Tilt Shift


Ways to Save Files


Layers & Simple Selections


Combine Images with Layers


How to Use Layer Styles


Make Selections with Layers


Make Selection with Lasso


Compositing with Multiple Images


Refine Edge Selection on Image


Use Refine Edge on Images


Create Gradient in Image


Gradient Map Differences


Options for Saving


Brushes Overview


Creatively Use Brushes


How to Change Brush Settings


Use Shape Tool with Brushes


Work with Multiple Shape Layers


Finish Image with Custom Shape Tool


How to Load Brushes into Elements


Add Layer Style to Image


Clip Image to Shape & Use as Template


Retouching Overview


How to Use Content-Aware Fill


How to Use Content-Aware Move Tool


Spot Healing Brush on Blemishes


Remove Frown Lines with Retouching


How to Remove Tattoos


Remove a Gap in Teeth


How to Whiten Teeth


Adjust Facial Features


Working with Type Overview


Match Type for Image


How to Manipulate Type Layers


Create Postcard with Type


Add Type on a Path


Organizing Images in Elements


Add Keywords to Images


Smart Tags Overview


Using Albums in Elements


Places Workspace Overview


Use Event Tags on Images


Timeline for Image Organization


Recommended Workflow


Lesson Info

Layers & Simple Selections

I feel good about this quick mode and guided mode. I think we're ready to pop over to expert mode, and just talk through some really basic stuff, before we finish the segment. And that way when we come back in the next round, we will be ready to have some action. Jump in in full force. So I'm gonna go ahead and click expert. And, look at that. It's really not terribly different. So don't panic, please don't panic. It's just not that scary. We have a few more tools over here. So, that's nice, because that means we can do stuff. Tools empower us, so that's really great. We have a few more things down here. I'm gonna go back to this layers panel, and you'll see that now we ... Oh maybe that's why it did it. Ah, silly me, of course. That's why it didn't make version two, and save that as a jpeg, because the way that we went about the black and white, adding the black and white effect, dictated that to save it in its current form, it needed layers. So, you see, Photoshop had our back the wh...

ole time. Let's talk about layers. I'm gonna open a special document that I created, specifically for this purpose. So, and I'm actually gonna close all of these, because this is a lot of open documents. You may not know this, but we can actually go up and close all of our open documents in one swoop. This is I think really handy. We can come up to the file menu, and just choose close all. And then it's gonna ask, do you wanna save your changes? And in this case, I'm just gonna say I don't wanna save it. I'm gonna apply to all. And boom, they're all done. And now we can see in the editor here, that it is unlocking all of those things that were previously locked. Alright, so, we are gonna play with this image right here. And let's take a look at this workspace, and how layers work, and this is so exciting. If you've never worked with layers before, I'm so excited for you. Let's talk about this. Alright, in our layers panel, we have four things. We have this background, which is nothing really. We have a layer called scissors. We have a layer called paper. And we have a layer called rock. So, if you know the game rock, paper, scissors, that's what I was going for here. Ha ha ha. Alright, what does this mean? Well, layers enable us to move parts of the image independently of one another. So for example, if I get my move tool, and I target in my layers panel, I target this layer called scissors, and I turn off this super annoying bounding box that comes on by default, by clicking down here and I'm just gonna uncheck all of these boxes for the move tool. This is the modifier panel for your tools, so I turn all those off, and incidentally you have to do it, to get them all off, you have to start unchecking from the bottom up. That's just very visually frustrating. Alright, so with my scissors layer selected here in the layers panel, I can click and drag, and move my scissors around my document, and I'm not tearing any holes in the document. I'm not causing any problems. I can just control the scissors. If I click on this paper layer, I can control the paper. I can move it around. I can do a number of other things that we'll talk about, but we'll get to them later. But I can transform it, I can rotate it. I can do all kinds of things. Same with this rock. I can adjust the rock separately. So that is what's so powerful about layers. You use them for practically everything, it seems like. Whether you are just doing a simple effect, like even that black and white ski trip photo, just to convert it to black and white made use of layers. Or, if you're doing something more complex, as we're gonna be doing later, we're gonna be doing some really cool composites, where we cut up different pieces from different images, and we put them together in a single image. That requires layers. So, that's basically what this is. This is a composite of three different things. It started with a blank file, and I took a pair of scissors, and selected them. Selected a piece of paper, and selected a rock, and then I joined them all in this document, so I could show you how layers work. And, that requires the use of layers. So, a few things you should know about layers, is the stacking order matters when we talk about layers. So right now, if you remember the game rock, paper, scissors, rock beat scissors, right? So, rock is on top of scissors. Bam. But, paper beat rock. So in my layers panel, if I drag paper on top, and I let go, and I come over here and move it, now paper is on top of the rock. So the stacking order matters, is the point. So those can be up on top, or whichever is gonna matter. So if you think of it like in the real world, if you were working on a scrapbook kind of a thing, and you have a background, you've got a piece of paper, and then you just started putting, if you just stared laying actual photos on top of your paper, they would be stacked one on top of the other. Like making a sandwich, you lay down your bread. You put on some peanut butter, and maybe some bananas, and some more peanut butter, and then the other piece of bread. It's the same thing. And if you look down on your sandwich from up above, you would just see the top piece of bread. That's how layers work. You can rename them by double clicking. So, by default, Photoshop calls them layer one, two, three, etc., but you can rename them at any time, to make it more useful for you. So we can double click, and I could type in whatever I wanna type here. Rock, in this case. That helps you keep track of things in your layers panel. You can also hide layers. So maybe I don't wanna look at this pair of scissors, for whatever reason I don't wanna see it right now, I can just click this little eyeball. That's what this is supposed to be, this little icon. If you couldn't tell, it's an eyeball. And if I don't wanna see the layers, I can hide the visibility of that layer by just clicking, and now we don't see it. And now I can work with the other layers. And if I wanna bring the scissors back at any time, I just click the eyeball to bring it back. So that is a little bit about how layers work. You can really see their value, if we pop back over to the organizer, and we'll talk just for a moment, we'll talk about making a really simple selection. So I'm gonna grab this image here, and I'll open that up in the editor. So how did I get these scissors, and how did they become layers? Well, layers and selections go hand in hand. So if I wanted to let's say select this ball right here, there's a number of ways I could do that, including, I could go grab this tool right here. This is the marquee tool. It comes in two flavors, rectangular and elliptical. So in this case, because I'm trying to select a ball, I'm gonna use the elliptical marquee. And selecting a ball is as simple as just clicking and dragging a circle. If I need to reposition this circle, I'm gonna hold down my spacebar, and drag it over here. Okay, so something like this. The key when you're using this tool, is to not let go of your mouse until you've got what you want, the way you want. So I'm gonna deselect this, and show you again. I can deselect, by coming to the select menu and choosing deselect, or on my keyboard, I can press Command or Control-D. So that will get rid of that. So let's do this again, and I'm gonna just say one more time, you don't let go of your mouse until you're happy with it. So I'm gonna click and I'm gonna drag, and then I'm way, I'm not even close to having the ball selected. That's fine. What I'm looking at when I draw this shape, is to just see that it's gonna be, it's approximating the ball. So I've got something like this. I'm gonna hold my mouse button down. While I keep holding my mouse button down, I'm now gonna press the spacebar, and that allows me to move this selection. So my first stop is to draw something that looks pretty decent in size and shape. My second step is to put it in the right spot. So I'm gonna line up this top edge, because that's where I stretch from when I'm drawing this. So I line up the top edge, and then I let go of the spacebar, and now I can let go of my mouse. And I didn't get it perfect, because I'm honestly not trying that hard, but that's okay. It's better to cut in on it, than it would be to include some of the background. So just to show you how layers work, we'll do a lot more with selections later. So just showing you how layers work, if I grab my move tool now, and I think, oh yay, I've got this ball, let's just move it, and put the book on top, or something. Well, if I grab this, and I just pull away like that, I don't get the same thing that I had over here, right? If I grab the scissors and I just move them, everything else is fine, and it's intact. I didn't tear a hole in the universe. However over here, I did. Why is that? That is because I don't currently have any layers in this image. This image is just a flat photo, straight out of the camera. And so all of these objects are just part of the background. And Photoshop even calls this the background layer. And if I select this ball, and I move it out of the way, what exactly do you think is supposed to fill in over here? It's like we're literally taking scissors, and cutting this photo, and then removing this piece, and just like in real life, if you cut part of your photo out and take it away, there's gonna be a hole in your image. This hole happens to be filled with white, and that is not an accident. That's what happens because Photoshop will always fill in any holes like this, in your background layer, it'll fill it in with whatever your current color is right here. This is called your background swatch. And, it's useful for a number of things. In this case, you can think of it like your original canvas background. So if you had a photo, and you made a selection around the ball in your photo, and then you just peeled the paper away from the photo, this would be what you're left with, is sort of like the backing of your photo. It's called the canvas, and this canvas backing will always be whatever color you have here. So, if I undo this, we'll put it back, and I'll even deselect the selection. And let's put some silly color here, just so you can see that I'm not making this up. And we'll talk about color shortly, but you just basically I'm gonna change this background color by clicking, and then this is the color picker box. And I can choose a different color by sliding around on this scale, and then clicking in the box. So the scale changes the hue that I'm dealing with in this box. So if I went some sort of obnoxious green color, I can slide around to about here, and then to choose the exact shade that I'm talking about, I click within this box. So we'll just pick something pretty bright like that, and I'll click OK. So that has put that in the background here now. So now I'll grab this tool again, and again I'm gonna click and drag. Hold my mouse. Keep holding my mouse while I hold the spacebar to move this around. That looks pretty good. I'll drop the spacebar. I'll drop my mouse. Now I've got my selection. And now if I get the move tool, and I try to drag it again, look at that. Now the hole that I've left behind is green. So when this happens to you, and you panic, and you're like, what is going on? I'm just trying to move this ball. Why am I getting a green circle? This is why. Because you are peeling away your photo, revealing just the backing paper, and that paper will always be whatever color you have here at the moment. Alright? And this is because it's all on the background. Something different entirely happens, if before we move this, if we come over to our background layer, and I click this little icon. This is actually a somewhat newer feature. There used to be one more step you had to do, and I'll show you what that is. But now you can just come over and click this, and that removes the lock, and you'll notice that the background layer gets a new name. Now it's called layer zero. The old way of doing this, by the way, I'm just gonna undo that quickly. I forget when they added this, but it's really pretty nice. Before, if you're using an older version of Elements, before you could do that, you, one way you could do it would be to come up to the layer, and say new, and you had to come over here, and say layer from background? Yeah. And then it's asking you, okay, you wanna call it layer zero, okay. And then it unlocks it, okay? So, the old school way was to come up to layer, new, layer ... Now we don't see it, because it's a dynamic menu. Layer, new, layer from background. Okay? You can also right click, I think. Layer from background, right. So you could right click and do that. Click OK, and it's the same thing as clicking that lock icon. Obviously, the lock icon is way better. Way better way to go. But now, watch what happens if I, again, with my move tool, which is right here in the toolbar, if I now put my cursor on top of this ball, and drag away, what is that? Now I have a checkerboard pattern? What is Photoshop doing? That is a silly thing, if you don't know what it is, it might seem really ridiculous. But, it's actually pretty awesome. So this checkerboard pattern represents transparency. Because, of course, even when we had white here, and I, let me make this into a background again. Now I'm gonna make a new background from layer. Even when we drag this away and we had white here, and you may think to yourself, well, that's blank. Isn't that the same thing? No, it is definitely not. White, in an image, is not transparency. It's white. It's white fill. So for example, over here in this image, if I unlock this background layer, by clicking on that icon, and I drag this white background, if I drag it on top of everything, we don't see any of our rock, paper, scissors anymore. Because this layer is now covering them. Because it's clearly not transparent. It's white. So white is not emptiness. It counts for something, okay? So over here, let's go back and unlock this again. And now when I move it, we get emptiness. And that means you can put things underneath it. You can do a number of things to take advantage of this transparency. Let's pop over here, so we see that. If we have the scissors, for example, if I hide all of these layers except the scissors, so I turned off all these little eyeballs, so we're just looking at the scissors layer. If the scissors were surrounded by whites, in other words, if this was still on a white background, we wouldn't see the rock, or the paper that are underneath it. So, that's why transparency is important. And it's important that we recognize, and we're able to visually distinguish between a white fill, and transparency. It's important that we can tell the difference, and we do that with this checkerboard pattern. So, it seems kind of funny, like what is that? But there's nothing there. So it's not gonna print. I could send this to a photo lab, or print this right now, and I don't have to worry. It's not gonna actually print my checkerboard pattern. It's just there so that you know what true emptiness looks like in Photoshop, because it's an important thing. Anytime that you make a new blank layer from scratch, it's going to just appear transparent. So if I wanted to add something new to this, I could click this button right here. This is the create a new layer button. If I click that, we see we get a new layer. Photoshop calls it layer one by default. And it's filled with transparency. Until I do something to it. So, one way that I like to think of this. I'm all about analogies, if you haven't guessed. And, I really like ... I like the analogy of the sandwich, and looking down, and understanding how layers work. And that's useful because, if we look from the side here, we see our layers from, what do you call that in Biology, from the cross view I guess. So we can see our paper, and this empty layer, and the rock and the scissors stacked. So if we think about that sandwich one more time, and now we think of the sandwich sitting on our counter, and then we squat down, and we get eye level with our sandwich, and we're looking at the sandwich, we would see the layer of bread, and that peanut butter, and the bananas, and the peanut butter, and I guess another layer of bread. So this is like the side view, and this is the bird's eye view looking down on your sandwich. One way that I like to think about this, and I think it's more just a romantic notion, I guess, but if you've ever studied animation, the old school, by hand animation, that Disney used to do for example, if you've ever seen the Jiminy Cricket specials about how Bambi was made, or whatever, this is essentially a similar concept that they were working with back then. When they were animating by hand, they drew everything on cells, pieces of celluloid, so they were transparent pieces of celluloid, and they would have the background, the background artist would paint the forest for Bambi. And then they would take that painting and put it down on the camera board. Then they would take the transparent pieces of celluloid, and that's where they would paint Bambi and the other characters, and then they would take that transparent piece, and lay it down on top of the background. And then when you laid it down on the workspace, and the camera would be up above, they could photograph it like that. And then every time Bambi moved, they could just replace the celluloid, replace that layer, and the background could stay the same, and they didn't have to recreate the forest, and repaint the whole forest every time Bambi needed to move. Because if you think about animation, that's a lot of drawings. They had to do millions anyway, but it saved them a little bit. And we have the same sort of thing here in Photoshop, and I just think that's really cool.

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Ratings and Reviews


Just watching this class live. It's my first class with Khara; she is a wonderful teacher, moving at a steady speed but always being careful to let us know what she's doing in the moment. I would classify myself as intermediate in terms of PSE but I've learned lots of little things that will make further use even easier and more fun. I really appreciated her descriptions of the difference between PS and PSE and her encouragement in using Photoshop Elements and all that it can do.


I have only been able to watch portions of this class but every single part that I have watched has been technically clear and inspiring to me. Based on this experience and the thorough, 58 item list of lessons, I will surely be buying this class soon! Thank you Khara and Creativelive for making a class on this topic and making it be super!!

Ven S

Great course. You can tell she knows the programme inside out.

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