On Saturday we watched a basic video on Layering. Now we want to go in depth, however before we can do that we need to understand some basic layering concepts. Why do we spend so much time on the basics? When you fully understand the basic functions of a program you are more likely to be successful with the exciting techniques you attempt.
What is a layer?
The best way to understand layers is to think of each layer as a sheet of acetate, as used for overhead projectors. Picture a clear page, with parts of the page information on each page. In the sample at the left, note which object is in front of the next and then note the stacking order as represented in the exploded layers representation. The Photoshop Layers palette for this design is shown below.
It is best to place every new element, or addition to an element, on its own layer. You can always merge (combine) layers, and it is much safer and faster to build each element a layer at a time. Once you are satisfied with the look, you can then combine the elements that make up that object. As an example: If you wish to make a square with an outline, build your square first, and then add your outline on a new layer. As long as the layers are separate, you can easily change either the fill or the stroke color, and the stroke width.
Building in layers will seem awkward in the beginning, since it is easy to gather a significant number of layers. Soon though, you will develop an instinct for when to combine and link layers to make the layers palette less cumbersome. Next we will focus on the specifics of layers in Photoshop.