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January 22 2014


Get ‘Layed’: What You Need to Know about Photoshop Layers

Photoshop is revered as one of the best digital multimedia solutions software. So there is no question on what you need to know about Photoshop layers because there is always something to be learnt about this amazing software. It basically encompasses every design need there is. Artists consider using it because of its flexibility. It can be utilized by any artist notwithstanding their design inclinations. Most photographers use the software in editing their photos. Some digital artists use Photoshop, (if not, Illustrator) in their designs. Meanwhile, most web designers use this software in building the visuals of their designs. Truly, with these uses, Adobe’s carrier software has been the one-man-wrecking-machine software that solved most of our digital problems.


photo from Wallpaper

Having said that Photoshop is a must-have software, it is also equally a must to master it. And that entails a great deal of effort. With all the tools, options and features of Photoshop, which – until today – is continually developing, it is very difficult to start training with the software. But never fret, you have us. What is 1stwebdesigners for, right?


Photo from Deviantart

One of the probably gazillion things you need to know about Photoshop is its layers. The importance of mastering this feature is, of course, pertinent for a web designer as a web design, before being coded, is most probably created through Photoshop.

Layers are free and independent elements in a Photoshop work space. They can be manipulated in scaling, color, effects, position, opacity and more. Layers often represent separate elements that a designer wants to tweak or customize. In the realm of web design, layers play an important role. They are used to represent the design elements of a webpage. They are made to imply a text box, an image, a background, the content and a lot more.


Photo from

Most Photoshop users will agree to the notion that one of the key features of a software like Photoshop is its good layering options. Here are some of them that you need to know.

Fill and Opacity

Fill and opacity are two different things. Although they are commonly confused as the same terms and often connected as a single terminology (i.e. Fill-Opacity), they are completely different from one another.photoshop-layers-04

Fill is an option of a layer to customize how many percent of the background color is seen. This option is commonly used for shapes


On the other hand, opacity is the option that dictates how transparent the whole layer relative to the other layers in the design.

The difference between the two is that the Fill option does not affect layer styles. For example, you put a stroke in the image. Notice that when you ticker down the fill percentage, the stroke is still seen unlike if you lower the opacity percentage, you see the whole image together with the layer styles is made transparent.



This is one of the most rudimentary learnings a Photoshop user should have when it comes to layers. Grouping really does not do a lot of things in the design per se. Despite that predicament, the importance of grouping is never left behind. You see, grouping helps in the organization of layers. Aside from naming them properly, which is also very useful, grouping layers improves the workflow because you don’t need to search the whole design looking for a single pixel. Just find where it belongs and voila! You have it!


photo from


Masking is the act of hiding particular portions of the layer to show the layers below it. This technique is a very important skill in a designer’s arsenal as it is a good way of combining multiple photos in one seamless image.

Photoshop masks can be used at a very large amount on a single layer. According to, you can use up to 11 Pixel Masks and 11 Vector Masks!

If you want a good tutorial, better visit this.


Photo from Photoshopsupport


Photo from Amazon news


Supposed you’re slicing up particular photos in a design. You have a lot of options to choose from. Either you click the layer you want to copy or cut, press CTRL+A and paste it wherever you want to, or use the lasso or quick selection tool. But you have a third option. That is quick selecting it by pressing CTRL + click the image desired.


Layer Styles

Layer styles give you the liberty to select specific options to enhance the design. There are some options to tinker on:

  • General Blending – here you can choose the Blending Mode. The Blending mode option allows you to customize background and image relationships and how to complement, contrast or both. Aside from that, you could also choose from advanced options where you are allowed to reduce the opacity of the layer as a whole or per channel.
  • Bevel and Emboss – this option gives your layers a 3D feel as they tend to pop out of the design. The Bevel and Emboss option add depth to the design, making it more ‘realistic.’ In this option, you could select from contouring options like inner bevels, emboss and more.
  • Stroke – this is one of the most used options in the menu. Stroke adds an outline to the main image. You can choose the opacity of the stroke, the color and its blending options.
  • Inner Shadow- gives you a subtle darkening of the layer. Inner shadow also provides depth. (Outer Shadow is the opposite of this)
  • Inner Glow – adds a shiny and feathered yellow design in the outline of the image within. (Outer Glow is the opposite of this)
  • Color Overlay – fills the whole image with a chosen color. It will totally forget what’s inside the fill. It will surely fill every spot of what you wanted it to fill with.



Layers are one nasty piece of business to study. It requires a lot of time and patience to do this. With the importance of layers highlighted, it is equally important to study them well. The key to this lesson is that you should try using them and commit mistakes. It’s where we really learn- from our mistakes. So next time, you’ll be dealing with layers, stand up and be proud that once in your life, you got ‘layed’ here at 1stwebesigner. Again, pun intended.

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