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Working With Layers

Finished layered image using 4 images

Layers make it possible to edit different sections of your images without changing other sections

Think of layers as transparent sheets that can be placed in a stack allowing parts to show thru or be covered up. The end image is a composite of all the sheets.
You can add, delete, rearrange and edit layers with different tools.   PSP allows you to view all layers together or hide individual layers. Download

The layers palette enables you to quickly use many of the functions in the Layers menu and Layer Properties dialog box.

If the layers palette is not visible do one of the following:

  • Press L
  • Toggle the View/Hide Layer Paletter button on the toolbar
                     Toggle Layer Palette
  • View || Toolbars and place a check mark next to Layers Palette
  • Right click on any palette and choose Tool Palette from the pop-up menu
PSP5 Layers Palette

PSP5 Layers Palette
PSP6 Layers Palette

PSP6 Layers Palette
I will give a Brief Explanation of the Buttons: Keep in mind that there are several other ways to obtain these functions, but due to space I'll not go into them here.
Layer Buttons:
  • Click to make it the active layer
  • Double clicking opens the Layer Properties box where you can rename the layer.
  • Right-clicking opens a drop down menu
  • Hold cursor over a layer button and a thumbnail of that layer will be displayed.
Layer Opacity Slider:
  • Makes the layer more transparent so the underneath layer can show thru.
  • The background layer does not support opacity sliding unless you right-click on the background layer and Choose Promote to Layer
Add New Layer/Create Layer:
  • Clicking this button creates a new layer above the active layer.
  • It also opens the layers properties box where you can name the layer and work with other settings, if desired.
  • If you want to add a new layer without opening the layer properties, hold the shift key while clicking on Add New Layer.
  • To make a copy of an existing layer, drag the layer button of the existing layer to the Add New Layer button.
  • Right-clicking this button in PSP6 opens a menu where you can choose the kind of layer you wish to add (raster, vector, adjustment).
PSP6 also has vector layers and adjustment layers. We will not go into those in this tutorial.

Delete Layer:

  • Clicking this will delete the active layer.
  • You could also drag a layer button to the delete layer button to delete it.
Layer Visibility Toggle:
  • Clicking on this hides the layer, enabling you to work on other layers with your image temporarily out of your way.
Protect Transparency Toggle:
  • You may want to add a shadow or touch of color to an image, but don't want to get paint on the transparent areas, so if you toggle the Protect Transparency on, only non-transparent pixels will be painted.
Layer Groups:
  • Adding layers to a group allows you to move more than one layer at a time.
  • To add layers, click once on the layers group toggle switch until you see a 1.  All layers that you toggle to 1 will be able to moved together.
  • You may have many layer groups
Layer Blend Mode:
  • I'm not going to say too much about this one. I believe it requires you to use it to better understand it.
  • Blend Mode determines how the the pixels of a layer blend with the pixels on lower layers.

These next features are on PSP6's layer palette

Appearance tab:

  • When this tab is clicked it will display the Opacity Slider, Blend Mode list and Protect Transparency toggle for each layer.
Group tab:
  • When clicked will display the layer group button for each layer.
  • You operate them the same as the Layer Groups buttons in PSP5
Create Mask Button:
  • Click to create a mask on the layer.
  • Right clicking opens a menu offering several options for creating a new mask on the layer.
We will not get into Mask functions in this session.

Auto Roll Up:

  • Clicking on this button either allows the palette to remain open or close up and therefore be out of your way as you work.
  • I, personally leave it set so it rolls up! ;o)

Let's try creating an image using layers and hopefully you will better understand some of what I've just explained.

  • Most times images need to be prepared for use.
  • To save time, I have already prepared the images to use for this tutorial.
  • Open
    laybasic-02.jpg laybasic-01.psp laybasic-02.psp

  • If your layers palette is not open, please open it.
Original Image #1     Original Image #2
Original Image #3     Original Image #4
Tile Vertically
  • Windows || Tile Vertically
  • Select each image individually
  • SHIFT + D to make duplicates to work on to avoid overwriting your originals.
  • Close the originals
  • Select laybasic-02.jpg to make it active image.
  • In the layers palette, left click on the background layer and drag it onto laybasic-01.jpg.
  • It may completely cover the image. Don't worry about placement at this time. We will position it later.
  • Select laybasic-01.jpg
  • In the layers palette, double click on layer 1
  • In the Layer Properties box, type a descriptive name in place of layer 1
  • I typed clouds
  • Leave other settings as they are
  • Click OK
  • If you wish you could also change the name of the background layer.
Select Layer 1
Layer Properties Box
Rename layer to storm
  • Select laybasic-01.psp
  • In layer palette, click on layer (it may say layer 1 instead of background)
  • Drag it onto laybasic-01.jpg as we did with the last one
  • Rename the layer
  • I used storm
  • Repeat the procedure with laybasic-02.psp
  • I renamed it lighthouse ;o)

Close all the images except laybasic-01.jpg
Now to begin making this look like something.
If you like, click the maximize button top right corner to make your image full size.
Be sure to select the layer you wish to work on, or you may make changes that you didn't want to.
Visibility Toggled off Click layer visibility toggle for storm & lighthouse layers to temporarily hide those layers from view.
  • In layers palette, select cloud layer
  • Select the mover tool Mover Tool and if necessary line the cloud layer image up so it completely covers the background layer.
Keep in mind many things can be done using layers, but for this session:
  • On the clouds layer, slide the opacity slider to the left to about 68.
  • If using PSP6 you will need to click the appearance Appearance Tab tab to make the layer opacity slider visible.
Opacity Settings
Blend Mode Settings
  • On the layer blend mode click the arrow and select lighten.
  • Select the mover tool
  • Move the image where you would like to it positioned
  • If you want it even lighter, you can click on the storm layer in the layers palette and drag it below the cloud layer.
  • If you have trouble making it move by itself
  • Click on the layers visibility toggle to close the cloud layer and after you've moved it make the layer visible again.
Click the layer visibility toggle on the lighthouse layer so you are able to view that layer.
I think it needs to be resized
  • Be sure the lighthouse layer is selected...
  • Image || Resize
  • Percentage of Original = 50
  • Resize Type = Bicubic resample
  • Resize All Layers = Unchecked (so that only the lighthouse is resized)
  • Maintain aspect ration of xxxxx to 1 = Checked
  • Click OK
Resize Image
Blend Mode & Opacity Settings
  • Select mover tool Mover Tool and postion lighthouse where you would like it
  • In layers palette set Layer Blend Mode to Overlay
  • (You may want to try different settings. Maybe you'll find one you'll like better)
  • Slide the opacity slider to 39 or whatever effect you like
If you think you'd like to work on this image again go to:
  • File || Save As-stormy.psp (or whatever name you like)
To save for use on web page:
  • Right click on any layer
  • Click on merge || visible
  • In your layers palette, you should now have only one layer named merged
  • Go to File || Save Copy As-stormy.jpg
  • You may also want to save a copy as stormy.gif
  • compare file size and quality of image to see which you will use on your web page
Close all your images
Merge Visible Layers

Layer Paletter after Merging Layers

Okay, now I've realized I wanted to add text...oops, unless I saved as .psp (I could still add text, but if I had saved as .psp I could add a layer for my text and later go back and change it to something else or a different color. The possiblities are endless, when we save in .psp
Using dropper tool to get color.  Text addedExample of color due to layering
  • Open stormy.psp
  • In layers palette, notice all your layers are still intact.
  • Click on Add or Create New Layer New Layer.
  • Name it text
  • Click OK
  • Use the eye dropper tool Eye Dropper Tool to select the red from the lighthouse as your foreground color.
  • Select your text tool Text Tool, use whatever settings you desire and add text to your image.
  • Add drop shadow or whatever you desire.
  • At a later time, should you decide to change the color of the text, use the magic wand Magic Wand Tool to select the background of the text layer, invert selection and use Color Replacer tool Color Replacer Tool to change color (or any other tool that you wish)
After you learn the ins and outs you will work on your images and perfect them as you like.
Using layers works great for making buttons.
I use a Background Layer, Image layer if desired, and a Text Layer on top because I can save it as a Template and then go to my psp files and change only the text however many times I want to without disturbing any other part of the graphic.
I also don't have to worry about resizing because that is part of the Template.

To make it more clear, if I want to change the text on the button a different font or different color or even different words, I would pull up my psp Template (the backgroud and text layers) and select the text layer on the Layer Palette so that I can modify it and only it hundreds and hundreds of times using the same graphic and size.
Layers simply make it where you can choose which layer you want to edit without messing up anything else.
I hope I'm making it clear for you.

Another example would be that say I had a 7 layer graphic. If I wanted to edit layer 4 but leave everything else the way it is, I select layer 4 on the Layer Palette and I can change layer 4 only.
There are many more reasons for using layers.
Have fun using this function

layers palette

Button #1 saved as .psp

Button #2

Button #3

Message received if you click Save As Copy before merging. Most times when you save layers are automatically flattened. A Brief Explanation of Merging Layers:
  • Merge All (flatten) causes your image to merge into one layer and produce a white background.
  • Merge Visible merges only visible layers
  • You can hide those you don't want merged It can be used when all layers are visible. It does not change your background to white.
  • Most times when you save layers are automatically flattened.
Some effects can be obtained as if layers were merged even when they haven't been.
  • If you choose Edit || Copy Merged all visible layers will be copied as if they were a single layer.
  • If you check Sample Merged in the Tool Options palette before using either the Magic Wand, the Clone Brush, the Retouch tool or the Flood Fill tool, that tool can be used on a layered image as if it were a single image.
PSP6 also has vector layers and adjustment layers. We will not go into those in this session.
Edit || Copy Merged Sample Merged Checked
When you are done with your image and want to save it as a .gif or .jpg to use on your web page, you will want to merge your layers and save using Save Copy As.

Very Important *NOTE:
To keep layers intact enabling you to re-open and make changes, you must save the image with a .psp file extension, otherwise your layers will be gone and the next time you open the image you will not be able to make changes..


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This tutorial created by Quiltress