Graphic Design / Interactive Design / Fine & Applied Arts / Parkland College

Graphic Design Exercises
Photoshop: Layers


To be introduced to Photoshop's layering techniques by creating composite images similar to this sample:


The essence of Photoshop is layers. With layers, one can control how images look by separating visual information into components. We can then control how Photoshop puts these components back together. Layers also allow us to experiment with variations, work with tansparency and even create sequences for animation.


working with layers

  1. download starter files
  2. open "layers.psd" in Photoshop
  3. practice Adobe navigation keyboard shortcuts:
    space = hand;
    space+cmd = zoom in;
    space+cmd+opt = zoom out;
    cmd+zero = fit in window
  4. practice zooming in and out: cmd +/-
  5. window > workspace > default
  6. expand layers floating panel: reveal and hide layers
  7. file > save for web "layers-test.jpg" (preset=jpeg high)

working with your own photo

  1. photograph yourself against a white background
  2. copy and paste your head into "layers.psd"
  3. adjust scale and position
  4. image > adjust > levels
  5. image > adjust > hue/saturation
  6. file > print with preview

Photoshop tips

  1. save often (cmd+S)
  2. undo if needed (cmd+Z or cmd+opt+Z)
  3. always save the original file in native ".psd" format
  4. publish only JPEG or GIF files (approx 800 pixels wide)
  5. stay in the MOVE tool unless you need another tool
  6. keep track of which layer is currently selected
  7. keep your eye on file sizes

Last updated: 3/2/17 ■ Webmaster: Paul Young