Layers are the foundations of a Photoshop document. When you get to grips with the concept of layers and how they work, you’ve made a huge leap forward in your understanding of Photoshop and what you can achieve with it.
You need to know how to use the tools, options and panels. But, without an understanding of how to add and manipulate layers, none of these tools will help you. Today’s video will show you different types of layers, how to show or hide them, and how you can make a desktop calendar using one of your favourite photos.
WHAT ARE PHOTOSHOP LAYERS?
Any photo, graphic, shape, text, texture, overlay, brush stroke, fill or adjustment in your Photoshop document lives on its own layer.
These layers can be further enhanced by changing their opacity, blending mode (how two layers interact), or by adding an effect (like a drop shadow).
You can chop and change the order of the layers, move the position of the layers relative to each other, add enhancements, and tone down or graduate these enhancements until you create the image you want.
Every layers can be altered individually, and herein lies the power of the Layers Panel.
When you save an image as a png or jpeg file, Photoshop merges these layers to produce a single-layer file. Unlike the single-layer you’ve created, you can return to the original Photoshop document and edit individual layers, creating new or amended versions over and over again.
Today’s Desktop Calendar Template introduces you to three layer types:
- Background Layer - appears in a new document and is locked, so it can’t move.
- Shape Layer - here, used as a semi-transparent mat to help the text stand out.
- Layer Group - this contains all the individual months on their own layers, kept inside a folder to make the layer stack easier to manage. Groups are a great way to manage layers as your Photoshop document gets bigger. You’d be amazed how many layers you can end up with in even the simplest Photoshop file.
Some layers have a solid background so need to go to the bottom of the stack. The photo in this example is a solid layer. As it's the full size of the document, it needs to go to the bottom otherwise it would hide everything else below it.
Most layers use transparency and although they take up a whole layer, they actually only contain a few pixels. The calendar month layers are a good example of this. If you look at the individual months in the layer stack, you’ll see that most of the layer is actually transparent (checkered appearance). This is why the calendar group needs to be above the photo.
This video will show you how to:
- add a photo to a Photoshop template;
- move layers within the layer stack;
- turn layers on and off;
- change a layer’s opacity; and
- add a colour overlay to a layer.
THE STEP BY STEP
ADDING A PHOTO TO A PHOTOSHOP TEMPLATE
- Open both the Calendar Template and the Photo you want to use.
- With the Template showing, make sure you have the Background Layer selected.
- Now select the Photo tab. Click down on the photo and hold.
- Drag the Photo up to the Template tab. Hold until the screen changes and you are looking at the Template again.
- Drag the Photo down onto the template and let go.
- You have now made a copy of the photo and created a new layer on the Template.
MOVING LAYERS WITHIN THE LAYER STACK
- The Photo will be the full size of the document and opaque, so needs to be at the bottom of the stack, just above the Background Layer.
- If your Photo has landed in the wrong place, click on the Photo layer and hold.
- Drag the Photo up or down to get it in the right position.
- You'll see a white line appear under the Photo Layer to show you where you are in the Layer Stack.
SELECTING THE CORRECT MONTH
- The Month Layers are grouped together in a folder, called a Layer Group.
- Click on the right-pointing arrow next to the folder icon to expand the Group.
- Click on the eyeball to the left of the month layer you want to use.
- Make sure all the other layers are turned off.
MAKING THE TEXT STAND OUT
Depending on the photograph you choose, the text may not stand out well enough to read. There are two ways to deal with this.
Using a Photo Mat
- The first way is to put a Semi-transparent Photo Mat — simply a shape layer — underneath the text layer.
- Switch the Transparent Mat layer on with the eyeball to the left of the layer.
- With the Shape Layer selected, adjust the Opacity at the top of the layer stack until you get clear text.
Changing the Text Colour
- If you would prefer the text without the mat, you can change the colour of the calendar layer by adding a Colour Overlay.
- Double click on the Month Layer you want to use to open the Layer Style panel.
- Choose Colour Overlay and click on the Colour Swatch.
- Choose a colour from your photo, or try black or white to get a good contrast with the background.
- When you're happy with the colour, click Okay to close the Colour Picker and Okay again, to close the Layer Style panel.
DESKTOP CALENDAR IDEAS FOR SMALL BUSINESSES
Why not create a series of product images using the template? You could share this as a monthly download on your blog or in your newsletter. Great if you sell delicious, beautiful, colourful, cute & cuddly, or creative products.
Do you offer a local service? Perhaps local landmark or location shots would be a great choice. Images that associate you and your business with the local area, and your potential customers will recognise immediately.
If you are looking for a sign-up incentive for your newsletter, you could offer a full 12-month calendar in one download.
WANT TO TRY?
If you would like to play with layers and make your own desktop calendar, you can download the Photoshop Template in the Resource Library.