Photoshop Layers Tutorials – Photoshop Basics Guide

The Layers is one of the best features that Adobe Photoshop has. In fact, for many novice and professional editors and designers, Layers is a life-saving option. It allows users to edit any type of image or text in a non-destructive way, which helps get a perfect result.

Table of Contents show

While some people find this feature highly useful, most people, especially beginners, do not understand how the entire feature works. Besides, there are options and settings within the feature that can change your editing skill and experience for good.

If you don’t know how or have little idea about how the Layer feature works, then this article is for you. I have discussed all the basic and important settings and options regarding Photoshop Layers feature here.

So let’s start Photoshop Layers Basic Tutorials in 2023

What Are Layers In Adobe Photoshop?

The easiest way to understand Photoshop Layer features is to use an example. So imagine having a stack of any transparent object. It can be a stake of transparent paper, sheets, glasses, or any other material. When multiple transparent layers are stacked up and work differently on each panel or glass, you can carry on the task easily without changing the other layers.

Moreover, you can add or remove these layers as you wish, and the other layers will still be the same. That pretty much sums up Layers in Photoshop. With this tool, you can add as many elements to an image as you want in a non-destructive way.

You can make changes, such as move, resize, and change the color of various elements in a Layer without disturbing other edited parts of the image. And other than editing Layers, you can also add texts, vector graphics, shapes, and even videos using the Layers feature.

Also Read:- Adobe Lightroom vs Photoshop Express 2023

Types Of Layers In Photoshop

Adobe Photoshop has different types of Layers. Though they work pretty much in the same way, learning about them will help you work with them more efficiently. 

Text Layer

When you want to add text to the image or your design, you can select and use the Text tool.

Text Layer

For that, you can press CTRL+T (COMMAND+T on MAC). Selecting the tool will automatically create a new layer over the last one.

On top of that, the tool gives more different options to make various adjustments to the text. You can wrap the text and change its size, color, angle, font style, and more.

Fill Layer

The Fill Layer allows you to add and blend various editing options and elements.

Fill Layer

You can use it for color changes, patterns, and gradient options. Moreover, you can also use this Layer to do the masking effect.

Layer Masks

The Layer Mask is a pretty handy option in Photoshop Layer. Using it, you can add some portions of an image onto another and remove what you don’t need.

Layer Mask Layer

Applying the Layer Mask option creates a red overlay on the image, which helps you detect and remove certain areas more precisely.

Adjustment Layer

The Adjustment Layer is the most useful and handiest part of the Layer features. This Layer option has a huge set of tools and settings to turn your editing task into something simpler and fun, only if you know their uses, of course.

Adjustment Layer

To access this Layer option, you can go directly to the Layer panel on the menu bar and choose New Adjustment Layer from the drop-down menu. Or, you can just use the Layers panel on the right side of your screen to get access to the settings.

Also Read:- 22 Best Free Photoshop Alternatives in 2023

Since this Layer option comes with many options and settings, let’s get to know them before moving forward.

  • Brightness/Contrast: With a single slider, this option lets you increase and decrease the brightness of the image. And the Contrast slider changes the brightness level of various elements of the image.
  • Levels: You can adjust the image’s color balance and tonal range. And the tool does all these by changing the image’s intensity level of highlight, tone, and shadows.
  • Curves: The Curve tool will give you a tonal scale to work with. You can use it to change the tone, brightness, shadow, and contrast of the photo elements. 
  • Exposure: This option helps you highlight various parts of the image. In the Photoshop Layers feature, you will get 3 different exposure options to adjust the highlight, the gemma slider for shadow adjustment and the mid-tone adjustment with an offset slider.
  • Vibrance: Does the photo have some dull color? You can easily adjust them and make them appear brighter and more colorful with these options.
  • Hue/Saturation: Hue lets you adjust or change the color of the overall image or portions of it. And Saturation also brings a change in color. You can adjust both using Hue and Saturation sliders.
  • Color Balance: This is a popular tool for doing color correction in images. It also allows you to make tonal adjustments as well.
  • Black & White: If you want to darken or brighten some areas, use the Black & White setting. Selecting the tool will allow you to make the adjustments in grayscale.
  • Photo Filter: The Photo Filter has some pre-set filter effects for changing the color and warmth level of your image. You can use these to apply certain color changes and to make the image tone warm or cool.
  • Channel Mixup: This is used for color adjustment. You can turn the photo to black and white or add a tint to the overall image. 
  • Color Lookup: The Color Lookup option has some pre-set color options, and they are also known as LUTs. They let you add various color effects to your image, much like filters.
  • Invert: Invert has the simplest task of all. All it does is invert everything in the image and give a negative effect.
  • Posterize: If you want to adjust the detail level of your image and its elements, you can use the Posterize tool. You can lower the image’s brightness value with more control.
  • Threshold: When you select the Threshold tool, the image will change to black and white. But with the adjustment option, you can control how many pixels will have the black-and-white effect.
  • Gradient Map: You can add different colors or tones to your image with the Gradient Map tool. There are pre-set options available already. But if you don’t want to use those, you can just create one.
  • Selective Color: Choosing the Selective Color tool allows you to adjust the color of a specific image area without making changes to any other parts.

Also Read:- How to Use Color Replacement Tool in Photoshop 2023

How To Add A New Layer

Whenever you want to draw something over an existing image or add new elements, you will need to add a new layer to it. It is the only and best way to ensure the original image remains intact. And there are several ways you can create a new Layer in Photoshop.

The most common way to create a new Layer is to do it from the Menu bar. Just go to the top menu bar and select Layers from the drop-down menu. And then, it will open an extended drop-down menu. Select Create New Layer from there. You can also create a new Layer by clicking the [+] icon from the right side Layer panel.

New Layer

There is also a shortcut command for that. You can press CTRL+Shift+N (COMMAND+Shift+N on MAC) to create a new Layer directly.

Once you follow any of the above-mentioned methods, a dialog box will appear. You can click OK to create the new Layer.

Also Read: How To Get Image Cut Out Photoshop Services

How To Select A New Layer

To work on a Layer, selecting it is mandatory. Otherwise, the changes will not be saved in the Layer. So to make it work, you need to make sure you activate the layer by selecting it. Just drag your mouse and hover the pointer over the Layer you want to select. And then, click on your mouse to make the selection.

new layer

As the Layer gets selected, it will appear highlighted with a darker shade while the other Layers (if there are more) are not. So even if you work with multiple Layers while editing a single image, you need to select the one Layer where you want to edit.

Also Read:- How To Use Paint Bucket Tool In Photoshop 2023

How To Select Multiple Layers

When you need to combine or merge your Photoshop Layers, you need to select several of them at once. This is frequently used for various editing purposes, depending on the type of images you are editing.

Multiple Layer

To select multiple Layers in a row, select the top Layer first. Then hold the Shift key (for Windows and MAC) and select the last Layer of the row. This will automatically select all the Layers between the top and bottom ones.

But for non-contiguous Layers or Layers that are not in order, you can simply hold the CTRL (COMMAND on MAC) button and gradually select the Layers of your choice.

Also Read: GIMP vs Photoshop – A Complete Comparison 2023

How To Group Layers

When you are working on several Layers at once, it is best to group them together, making it easier for you to move, resize and adjust them as necessary. You can also lock, unlock, link, or do various other things at one go when you have them grouped.

Group Layer

To group several Layers, go to the menu of Layer Panel and click it. Then select New Group from Layers from the drop-down menu. It will show you a dialog box, and you can either choose a name for the group or use the one that it shows by default. Then click OK to create the group.

How To Resize A Layer

Sometimes, you may not need to use an image on a Layer entirely over the previous Layer. Maybe you want to increase or decrease its size before placing it where it’s needed. In that case, you will have to resize the Layer.

First, select the Layer you want to resize. If you want to resize multiple Layers, select them using the previous method I discussed. Then you need to select the Free Transformation tool to move and resize the image.

Resize Layer

You can access the Free Transformation tool by pressing CTRL+T (COMMAND+T on MAC) from the keyboard. You can also find it by going to the Edit panel from the top menu bar and selecting Free Transformation from the drop-down menu.

As you select the tool, a blue border will appear around the new Layer image. And you can drag, resize, rotate, and even change ratio using various settings.

Read More: How To Resize An Image In Photoshop 2023

How To Move A Layer Element

If you want to move a Layer element in an image, you must select the Move Tool. But before that, make sure you have the Layer you want to move selected. Then go to the Toolbar and select Move Tool.

If you cannot find the Move Tool on the Toolbar or don’t know what it looks like, you can simply use the shortcut command to find the tool. Simply select V from your keyboard, and the tool will open. It will enable your control over the Layer so that you can move it as you want.

Read Also: How to Use the Magic Wand Tool in Photoshop 2023

How To Copy A Layer Element

Copying a Layer element in Photoshop is very similar to any other element we copy in documents and other reasons. So first, select the Layer you want to copy. Then go to the top menu bar and click the Select panel.

Once the drop-down menu opens, select All to select all the elements of the image. After that, go to the Edit panel and select Copy from the drop-down menu to copy the photo elements.

You can select and copy them all by pressing the shortcut command. For selection, press CTRL+A (COMMAND+A on MAC). And then, you can copy the image by pressing CTRL+C (COMMAND+C on MAC) as a shortcut.

How To Paste A Layer Element

After you copy an image or a Layer, you must paste it on another layer or on top of another image. And you can paste the image in the same way you paste everything else.

To paste what you copied, you can apply two different methods. The long one is to go to the top menu bar and select the Edit panel. When it opens the drop-down menu, scroll down to Paste and click it.

If you prefer a shortcut, you can do it from your keyboard. Just press CTRL+V (COMMAND+V on MAC), and it will paste the selected image on top of the current Layer.

Also Read: How to Swap Faces in Photoshop Tools – 16 Easy Step Guides

How To Delete A Layer

If you have a Layer that you don’t need anymore, you can simply delete it and move on with your editing tasks. The easiest way to do it is to drag it down into the trash can.

You will see a trash can icon at the bottom of the right side Layer panel. So just click and hold on to the Layer you want to delete and drag the Layer down to the trash can to delete it.

If dragging it seems to be an issue, you can go to the menu of the Layer panel and select Delete from the drop-down menu to delete the Layer.

However, here is a small tip. If you are not sure whether you should delete a Layer, you can make it invisible to know how the image looks without that particular layer. To do that, just click on the box with an eye icon. Once the eye in the box becomes invisible, so does the Layer.

How To Create A Duplicate Layer

Creating a duplicate layer of an existing image is the best way to edit photos without altering the original. That is one of the most preferred editing hacks of professional photo editors.

To duplicate a photo layer, go to the menu icon of the Layer panel. You can find the Duplicate Layer option there and select it. You will immediately get a dialog box. You can either press OK to duplicate and save the layer as it is or rename it if you want to.

Also Read: How to Smooth Edges in Photoshop 2023 (Step by Step)

How To Show Or Hide Layers

Sometimes, you may not need them all while editing photos with multiple layers simultaneously. And then, you may have to use the Layer(s) afterward. If that is the case, turning the Layer’s visibility on and off is the easiest way to adjust the editing task. And you can hide and unhide or show the Layer using a single click.

Next to each Layer, you will see a box with an eye icon. If the eye icon is visible, it means your Layer is showing. You can simply click on the eye icon to make it invisible, and so will your Layer. Click on the box again, and the eye icon will show up, meaning the Layer is showing.

How To Lock Or Unlock A Layer

No matter how many layers you have in Photoshop, all of them will appear unlocked by default. However, the Background will remain locked. If you want to lock a single Layer, you have to click on it to select it from the Layer panel first. Then go to the padlock icon shown above the Layers to lock it. 

When you have a locked Layer, the padlock icon will show on it. To unlock the locked Layer, simply click and select the Layer and click on the padlock icon above to unlock it.

Also Read: Photoshop Background Removal Service

How To Rename A Layer

Renaming all the Layers makes your editing task more convenient. Because with the names set according to the Layer type, you can find them more easily.

So to name a Layer, select it first and then go to the Layer panel from the top menu bar. And then, select Rename from the drop-down menu.

It will show you a dialog box, and you can type a new name for the Layer and click OK to rename it. You can also do it directly from the Layer panel by clicking on the currency name.

How To Reorder Layers

The order in which you set up your image Layers affects their appearance as you finish your editing. So it is essential to reorder the Layers if necessary.

To reorder the Layers, click and hold on to the Layer you want to move, and it will have a blue marking. That means you can now move it. So drag and move the Layer where you want to place it and release your cursor. That’s it!

Also Read: Photoshop Photo Enhancement Service

How To Use Color Code In Layers

When you have too many Layers to work with and document, losing track of them is not so unusual. That is why some editors use the color coding feature to ensure they can keep up with many Layers.

To apply the Color Mode or color code the Layer, select the Layer and right-click the mouse. If you are a MAC user, you have to press COMMAND and click. It will open a drop-down menu. 

Once it does, you will see various color options around the bottom. Once you select a color, the box next to the Layer will contain that color. Thus the color coding option helps you.

How To Link Layers

Sometimes, it seems unnecessary to have different photo elements on separate Layers. If you do not need separate Layers, you can just link the Layers and bring everything in a single Layer.

To link Layers, first, select the Layers you need to link, and then click the link icon from the bottom of the Layer panel. Once you do that, the link symbol will appear on each Layer you linked. You can repeat the steps to unlink the Layers as well.

Also Read:- 29 Best Photo Manipulation Photoshop Tutorials

Importance Of Layers In Photoshop 

So how do all these tools and settings of the Layer feature help you? Why should you use it at all? Well, here is how. 

Offers More Control

The Layer feature has many tools, options, and settings. Some of the tools and settings let you edit only what you want to change without doing anything to the other parts of the image. Thus, with so many things that it offers, you can have more control over what you edit and how you change things.

Non-Destructive Edit

With this feature, you work on each layer individually. If you change color in one layer and add text in another, you can change color and add or delete things without altering the changes you made in other layers. That’s how the Photoshop Layers feature offers a non-destructive photo editing option.

Easy To Undo

If you did not like what you changed or edited, no worries. You can always undo it during the process. And unlike other editing software or apps, undoing the changes will not require you to remove the other changes except the one you want to. However, this process works only if you add a new Layer every time.

Can Be Changed Later

The blessing of using Adobe Photoshop is that it allows you to save images in .psd files. And when you save an image in such a format, you can make changes to the image any time you want, even after saving the image. That’s right! Even if you have the file saved on your device after the final edit, you can still open it on Photoshop and go back to any Layer you want to.

Also Read:- Image Masking Service Provider

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the basics of Layers in Photoshop?

A Photoshop Layer contains various things like texts, images, objects, etc. One can edit, move, resize, and do many other things using its different options. And all these can be done without affecting any other part of the image permanently. And the perk of working on a Layer is that you can undo everything you have done or delete it without changing the original image.

Why are Layers in Photoshop important?

Layers are not only important but also popular when it comes to editing images and texts. It is preferred because it makes editing anything more effortless and less hassle. You can edit the image as much as you want without affecting anything you have done until adding the layer.

How to rename a Layer?

Here is the simplest way to rename a Layer.
1. Double-click on the Layer name.
2. Then it will become highlighted and editable.
3. Press the backspace from your keyboard to clear the name.
4. Then type the new name you want to add, and that’s it.

 How can I change Opacity in a Layer?

To change Opacity in a Layer, try the following method.
1. Select the Layer you want to work on.
2. Then go to the Layer setting bar on the top.
3. After that, change the Opacity level to any number between 0 to 100, depending on how visible you want it to be.

You can also change the Opacity level by dragging the slider bar in the Opacity dialog box.

 How do I add a Gradient Layer?

Here is the way to add a Gradient Layer in Photoshop.
1. Go to the Adjustment menu 
2. Then select Gradient Map
3. After that, choose your preferred color and blending mode.
4. Then go to the Gradient Tool and select it.
Drag the tool to the image to add the effect.

How can I change the Layer preview thumbnail size?

This is how you can change the Layer thumbnail size in Photoshop.
1. First, go to the Layer where you want to make the changes.
2. Then place the cursor on any area below the Layers and right-click on it.
3. If the option is not there, click and drag the bottom of the panel if necessary.
4. Then you can choose various sizes of the thumbnail from there.

Why can’t I find Layers in Photoshop?

If you cannot find the Layer panel on the menu bar, it is probably hidden. You can go to the Windows panel and can easily find Layer from the drop-down menu. But if you cannot find it there either, it is probably because you are using an older version of Photoshop and need to upgrade it.

 Are Layers like glass?

Well, comparing Photoshop Layer to glasses is the best way to understand how it works. Imagine the Layers as glass panels. ou can keep one panel above another and then color or design them as you want without damaging the other and still make the designs of other glass panels visible. That pretty much sums up how Layers in Photoshop work.

What is interacting with Layers?

Interacting with Layers is doing anything that can be done in a Layer. From renaming the Layer and moving it to rearranging and deleting it, everything is counted as an interaction.

How can I transform a Layer?

Transforming a Layer means changing the appearance of the Layer using various options. Using different options and tools, you can resize, stretch, shrink, etc. That is how you can transform a Layer.

How many Layers can I add to a single image?

Every time you need to add a Layer, you can add one or Duplicate a Layer to add various editing and blending modes to it. Just like this, Photoshop allows you to add up to 8000 Layers to a single image. However, the number also depends on which Photoshop version or device you are using.

How do Layers help to edit in a non-destructive way?

When you add a Layer to an image, you place a transparent overlay that protects anything you have done before or do afterward. So even if you delete or change the Layer part, everything else still remains unchanged. Thus, Photoshop helps edit images in a non-destructive way.

 Can I add a video using the Layers feature?

Yes, you can certainly add a video to an image or image over a video using the Layer feature. To add a video in Layer-
Go to File and then select Import from the drop-down menu.
Then select the video of your choice and upload it on the Layer by clicking OK.
However, if the video file is too large, uploading all of it can be an issue. Or, you might have to cut it frame by frame and then upload it.

 How can I convert a Photoshop Background to a Layer?

Here is the process to convert a Background to a Layer.
Go to the Layer panel
Double-click on the Layer panel’s Background 
Then set your Layer options and click OK.

How can I convert a Photoshop Layer to a Background?

This is the process of converting a Layer to a Background.
1. Go to the Layer panel and select the Layer you want to convert.
2. Then go to the Layer panel and select New from the drop-down menu.
3. From there, select Background From Layer.


The discussion regarding the Photoshop Layer feature is endless, and you cannot be done with it in a day. But I did my best to create a basic guide for you to understand the essential parts of the Layer features and how they work.

But as always, the best way to learn more about this feature is to work and practice as much as you can. You will be surprised by how many amazing hidden and convenient settings you discover when working on Layers in Photoshop.

Leave a Comment