Layers

Part of what makes Photoshop so much fun to work with is the ability to watch the digital magic of what happens when different effects are combined or manipulated. The possibilities of what a designer can do with Photoshop are almost mind-boggling. You could easily spend hundreds of hours just playing around with different effects and exploring how some effects play off other effects. Effects, effects, effects.

When Photoshop introduced the History palette, I think designers around the world breathed a collective sigh of relief. Utilizing the History palette is basically like back-tracking through applied effects. As depicted in Figure 2-2, you are able to go forward and backward, like moving up and down stairs.

Before this palette was added, a new layer had to be added for every effect you wanted to try out (which was time-consuming and memory-absorbing, to say the least). Your other options were to use a one-time "Undo"—only operative for the previously completed command—or, if all else failed, simply to "Revert" to the last saved version of your file.

However, once you save your file (which should be done often), you will notice that the History palette clears or empties itself. No longer do you have the option of walking backward or forward through your "effects experimentation." That's why it is so important for designers to constantly use the Layers palette.

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Figure 2-2 The History palette allows you to backtrack through actions applied to your image without committing to a final outcome.

Although utilizing the Layers palette takes up a lot of memory space on your hard drive (Photoshop files are proportionately larger for each added layer), it is the only way to carefully manipulate the fine details of your image without committing to a final outcome before you are ready to. Utilizing layers, as shown in Figures 2-3 and 2-4, allows you to quickly toggle between layers or applied effects by simply clicking the eye icon on the layer.

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