Alibony Lessons for Photoshop Elements, Lightroom, and Digital Photography

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Photoshop Elements: Using the Layers Palette

Adobe® Photoshop® Elements 6

March 10 2008

The Layers palette will quickly become one of your most valuable tools. This lesson explains some of the features of the Layers palette.

Layers Palette
Layers palette

Set Up the Layers Palette

When you first work with Layers palette, it helps to set it up for your work style.

  1. To open the Layers palette, from the Window menu, select Layers or press F11.
  2. Click More at the top right of the Layers palette. The Layers palette menu opens.

    Layers palette menu

  3. If you use the Layers palette frequently, select Place in Palette Bin When Closed. When you close the palette, it will still be accessible from the palette bin at the right of your workspace.
  4. From the Layers palette menu, select Palette Options:

    1. In the Palette Options window, select the thumbnail size you want to view.
    2. Leave other palette options unchanged.

    Palette options

Make a Layer Active

To work on a particular layer, you must make it active. To make a layer active, click on the layer in the Layers palette. It will be highlighted in light gray.

Create a New Layer

To create a new layer:

  • To create a new layer above the active layer, click the New Layer icon in the Layers palette.
  • To create a new layer below the active layer, press Ctrl and click the New Layer icon.

Copy a Layer

To copy a layer:

  • To copy the active layer to a new layer, click-and-drag the active layer to the New Layer icon or click Ctrl+J.
  • To make a copy of a selected area in the active layer and place it on a new layer above, select the area, then click Ctrl+J.

Delete a Layer

To delete a layer:

  • In the Layers palette, select the layer you want to delete, then click-and-drag the layer to the Delete Layer icon.
  • To delete multiple layers, press Ctrl+Click to select the layers you want to delete, then click-and-drag the layers to the Delete Layer icon

Show or Hide Layer

When working with lots of layers, it is often helpful to hide some or all of the layers you are not working on.

  • To hide a layer, click the eye icon to the left of the layer thumbnail. The eye icon disappears.
  • To show a hidden layer, click the blank box to the left of the layer thumbnail.
  • To hide all layers except the active layer, click-and-hold Alt, then click the eye icon to the left of the active layer's thumbnail.
  • To show all layers again, click-and-hold Alt, then click the eye icon to the left of the active layer's thumbnail.

Lock Layer Pixels

You can lock the pixels on a layer to prevent accidental changes to the layer.

  • To lock the entire layer, click the Fully Locked icon (black padlock).
  • To lock only the transparent pixels, click the Lock Transparent Pixels icon (transparent grid).

Apply a Blending Mode

To apply a blending mode to a layer, select the blending mode from the drop-down menu at the top left of the Layers palette. We'll cover blending modes in another lesson.

Add an Adjustment

To add an adjustment layer above the active layer, click the New Adjustment icon and select the adjusment layer type from the drop-down list. We'll cover adjustment layers in another lesson.

Change Layer Opacity

To change the opacity of a layer, you can:

  • Enter a percentage in the Opacity box.
  • Click the down arrow to the right of the Opacity box and use the slider to adjust opacity.
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Updated on July 31, 2013