Every image in Photoshop consists of multiple layers and each layered is often compared to sheets of acetate, with the ability to transparently see through each layer to the layer below it. The manner in which these layers are designed and stacked is what gives the image its appearance and appeal.

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One of the main aspects of Photoshop is layers, and in order to use the software even in the most basic way, it’s important that users have a knowledge of what layers are and how they work.

So let’s get started.

The Layers Panel

The layers panel in Photoshop is where you access layers and a wide range of features that make manipulating and designing these layers simple. It allows you to create, design, and redesign layers.

Creating a New Layer

Adding a new layer to an image enables you to achieve certain effects and appearances. There are two ways to do this.

First, click on the upper right corner of the layer panel and from the resulting menu select “New Layer”.

Create new layer from upper right corner of layer panel

Second, click on the “New Layer” icon located at the bottom of the layers panel.

Create new layer from the bottom of the layer panel

Duplicating a Layer

Right-click on the layer you wish to duplicate and then select “Duplicate Layer” from the menu. In the example image, you have an option of adding the layer to the same image or another image. To add to the same image simply give it a name and click OK.

Duplicate the layer by right clicking on the desired layer

Name the layer and click ok

If, however, you wish to add the layer to a different image, type the title of that document in the box titled “Destination” and name it before clicking OK.

Duplicate the layer and choose destination

Alternating the Layers’ Positions on the Image

When working on an image in Photoshop, the different layers that make up that image are arranged in order of their position, from the one at the top to the background layer. You can alternate the positioning of these layers by clicking and dragging the chosen layer to the desired position.

Alternating the layers position

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Hiding or Deleting a Layer

When manipulating or changing an image it may be necessary to hide a layer and observe the image without it or delete the layer altogether. To hide a layer, locate it on the layer panel and click on the eye icon beside it. To make it visible, simply click on the icon again.

Click on eye icon to make visible of invisible layers

To delete a layer, click on that layer and drag it to the trash icon located at the bottom of the layers panel or right-click the layer and select “Delete”.

Deleting the layer

Changing a Layer’s Mode

You can change a layer’s mode to manipulate its appearance, feel, and texture. To change the mode, locate the tab “Opacity” on the layers menu. Click on the other tab “Normal” on the left side of the “Opacity” tab. This will open a drop-down menu with numerous modes to choose from. Click on the desired mode to apply it.

Changing layers mode

Changing a Layer’s Color

To change the color of a layer, right-click on a layer, then click on the color of your choice from the pop-up menu.

Changing a Layers Color

Adjusting a Layer’s Transparency

A layer on an image does not have to be opaque. You can make it partially transparent to to get different desired effects. Within the layer panel, click on the layer you wish to adjust, then the percentage in under “Opacity” at the top of the panel

Adjusting layers transparency

Adding Styles to a Layer

You can add a host of effects to a layer to enhance its appearance and shape. Simply click on the layer and then click on the icon labeled “fx” at the bottom of the layers panel. This opens a menu with a wide range of effects to apply.

Adding styles to a layer

Tip: To protect a layer’s aspects, click on it and then click the “Lock” icon at the top of the layers menu. This will prevent mistakes being made that could compromise the image’s appearance.

Lock icon at the top of the layers menu

Grouping Layers

If you wish to decongest or categorize the layers in the layers panel, click on the folder icon at the bottom of the page and drag the layers into the new folder to make a group.

Making a group of layers

A series of layers come together in Photoshop to make the image, and how you design them determines the appeal of the final results. To hone your layer-making and designing skills in Photoshop, we encourage you to practice and experiment with different images.

If you want to keep learning new Photoshop skills, try out our tutorial, “How To Create A Realistic Drop Shadow.”

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Rokaiya Yeasmin Munni

As manager and head of digital marketing at Clipping Path India, Rokaiya wants to help retailers and photographers use marketing strategies and tactics that will elevate their business. She has an 18-year background in graphic design, content management and digital marketing.

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