Sunday, November 22, 2009

Photoshop Tutorial 1 (Page 1): Playing with Layers and Layer Modes


Filter effects in Photoshop are something that anyone can play with, they are built into the programme and you can be as artistically challenged as you like. This tutorial that I have come up with, is the best way that I could think of to show the basics of working with layers and layer modes which is the foundation knowledge needed for most work that you will ever do in Photoshop.

Professional designers try to avoid filters as much as possible because they are too much of a cliché, especially if overused, but the effects created from using them are undeniably incredible. Playing with filters is not an exact science and the need to show techniques step-by-step is not necessary, because the fun is in the experimenting - believe me, none of us will come up with the same image at the end and that is due to the fact, that in addition to using the filters, we will be using layers modes to enhance the effects. I also wouldn't be surprised if you didn't complete the tutorial to the end, because when you have grasped the concept you'll want to go steaming off ahead on your own mission.




This is the picture that I have been playing around with, lets see how much damage we can do to my kittens. Feel free to use the same image as well if you like, just right click on the image on the link and save it to your computer.
Most importantly have fun!

Setting up the document


  • Start off by opening the image in Photoshop. It all works exactly the same as other programmes. (File >Open - find the image where it is saved on your computer and select it).
  • Make sure that your Layers palette is open and positioned where you want it.
    (Window >Layers - you can drag the title bar to move it so that it is positioned comfortably for you to access easily).
  • Another important palette that you may need for this exercise is the history palette. It is really useful for stepping back stages if you want to delete a few of your most recent moves.
    (Window >History).
  • Double click on the highlighted layer in the palette entitled background.  
  • A 'new layer' window pops up, as shown in the diagram above, select the OK button. (this converts the embedded background image into a layer called 'Layer 0' and unlocks it - you will notice the little lock icon on the right disappears).  
  • Creating additional layers

    Now I would like to create new layers of the image so that I can have duplicate copies of it.
    • Click on 'layer 0' (the curser changes into a hand) and drag it to the page icon at the bottom of the palette.  





                 Repeat this as many times as you like - I have made 3 copies for the example in this tutorial...

Final precautions...

When working on numerous layers that you intend on changing drastically, it is imperative that you retain one of the original layers as a backup, hidden and locked, just in case you need it again.

  • Click on your original 'layer 0' so that it is highlighted. Select the upper lock icon near the top of the palette so that the layer gets its lock icon back. That is your safeguard, that layer is now untouchable and if you hold the mouse over the image whilst on that layer and try to click on it, you will get the 'no smoking' symbol without the cigarette ;).
  • On the left hand side of the palette you will be able to see a column of eyes. Those are the switches to turn layers on and off (eye shown = on, blank space = off). Right, now we want to work on 'layer 0 copy 3' so click on the other eyes to turn them off as shown in the image above.

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