Getting around the Layers palette

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The Layers palette is the part of Photoshop that contains all the layers that make up an image. It's where you go to create and control all layers; you can create new ones, hide some, and work with them individually or in groups. Clicking the palette's menu button displays the Layers menu. Figure 10-7 shows the Layers palette and the Layers menu.

By default, the Layers palette is visible when you start Photoshop. If you inadvertently close the Layers palette while you're working in Photoshop, you can always start it up again by choosing WindowsO Layers or by pressing the F7 key.

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The Layers palette with the Layers

Here's a fast list of what you can do with the layers in Photoshop:

l Understanding the background layer: When you open an image file, Photoshop creates the bottommost Background layer. Because it's basic to the other layers, it doesn't allow you to make certain changes to it: You cannot delete it, re-order it, or change its opacity or blending mode.

Before you edit your image, always make a duplicate of the Background layer. It's a best practice to avoid editing the Background layer altogether. Reserve that layer as the original to base all your edits on: It's your backup — your parachute in case anything goes wrong. Right-click (or ^+click on a Mac) the Background layer, and then choose Duplicate Layer from the menu.

l Showing or hiding a layer's contents: You toggle between Show and Hide by clicking the Eye icon (aye-aye, sir, that's what it looks like). If the Eye icon is visible, the contents of the layer are visible. If the Eye icon is not visible, the contents of the layer are hidden.

l Creating new layers: Click the Create a New Layer button (see Figure 10-8), and then choose the layer type in the flyout menu Figure 10-8: Creating a new layer.

l Renaming layers: Simply double-click the layer name and type the new name.

l Changing layer order: To change the order of your layers, click a layer and drag it to where you want it to appear in the stack.

You can also create a new layer by dragging an existing layer to the New Layer button, which is located on the bottom of the Layers palette.

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^ Deleting layers: Click the layer and drag it to the Trashcan icon at the bottom-right of the Layers palette. You can also right-click the layer and choose Delete Layer from the menu, as shown in Figure 10-9.

^ Flattening layers: When you flatten layers, you combine them all into one layer. When you flatten an image, you can make no further changes to any of the old layers. In effect, they disappear as layers, leaving only their effects in the flattened version of the image. Flattening layers is a normal step to do right before you print out an image or submit it for publishing. Three things to keep in mind here:

• If no layers are selected, the entire image is flattened into one layer that takes the top layer's name.

• If two or more layers are selected, only those layers are combined into one layer — again taking the top layer's name.

• To maintain your image edits, save your image before you flatten it — and be sure to give the flattened version of your image a different filename when you save it.

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Figure 10-9: Deleting a layer using the Layers menu.

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Photoshop Secrets

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