Maureen Gabardini “Use of Layers in Photo Shop”

2010-03-17

The purpose of this workshop is to explain the use of layers in Photoshop, Gimp, & other programs; what they are, & what they do.
If you have any questions about anything, please make a note of it at the time, & ask it at the end of the workshop.
So, to start, what is a layer?
In Photoshop a layer can be a picture, part of a picture, lettering, or any one of several effects and/or adjustments that you might want to make to those.
To illustrate this, I have made up several prims that will, I hope, make this clear.
When I start work, I begin with a Photoshop file I have made up called “start”. This is simply a plain black background layer, with a plain white layer in front of it….like this…..
For those of you who have not seen it, I built my studio with the express intention of use with Photoshop. The only thing it is used for is to take pictures of the subject; to this end, it is possible for me to take shots from every possible angle front to back, & top to bottom, the only adjustment being to make sure that the background contrasts with whatever the subject might be wearing, in order to be able to cut the background out entirely, & leaving just the subject. The actual photograph is created entirely in Photoshop, & using Photoshop techniques.
I do this with the “magic eraser” tool, like this…..
I then smooth the edges of the shot…..here is a tip…..when you have smoothed the pic, make a couple of duplicates of it, as you may find that other effects will spoil what you’re trying to achieve….when I am happy with it …….I insert a background…..like this…….& there you have a picture of me on a wharf, with ships moored in the background.
As it is a foggy day, I can also add another layer/picture called “smoke”, turn down the visibility to make it look as if I’m really there.
Ok, so all that now remains to be done is to merge the layers; you do this by holding down “Ctrl” & clicking on each layer to select it, right click & select “merge layers”.
Next go to the Layer box at the top left of your screen, from the dropdown select “Flatten Image”, & then save to your hard drive.

Ok fine…so that is basically how you put a picture together in Photoshop, or Gimp. I have had a quick look at Gimp, & from what I have seen you can do most, if not all of what I have just demonstrated; however, many of the effects are either called by different names, or in different places relevant to Photoshop. The moral being……stick with what you have, as there is a lot to be discovered in both, & you will probably confuse yourself if you try both.

And, speaking of effects……..
There are many different type of effects, & filters, giving an infinite variety of possibilities, some are layer based, some aren’t, some will affect all layers, some only the layers you are working on.
For example…..
Your acid freak brother gives you a beautiful shot of the Empire State Building together with a picture of himself with the Stars & Stripes, & tells you that he wants to be in front of the building but as a blue alien.
You cut him out, smooth the pic, & make a duplicate.
With the duplicate you select “Old Glory”, & erase the rest of the shot.
The thing about making a duplicate is that it will be in EXACTLY the same position as the original.
You now have two layers; one with your brother waving the flag, & the other with just the flag itself.
Select his picture & place the Hue & saturation layer between him & the flag, & tweak it to the colour he wants.
Because this is a layer….everything behind will change colour correspondingly, including the Empire State, whilst the flag, being in front of the layer, will remain red, white, & blue.
By merging the hue layer with your brothers’, the hue will now only affect that layer, & so the building, will revert to normal.
This is true of all the layers on the adjustments palette, including contrast & black & white.

However, if you use the drop shadow layer (Layer, & Layer Style), the shadow will only affect the cut out it is used on…..Unless you try to change it for another cut out!
If for example, you have the drop shadow going left on one figure, & want it to go right on a second, you will find that the first shadow will follow the second. Again, merge the first two layers, & you can place the shadow on the second however you wish.
There are so many possible permutations in Photoshop & Gimp that it would be futile to try & explain them all…..even if I knew them…..But i hope this talk has gone some way in helping you to understand the nature of layers, & how they can be used.
Thank you ….


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