How To Use Photoshop Elements Layers for Beginners – Adobe Photoshop Elements Layers Tutorial

Hi I’m George Peirson and in this Photoshop Elements video I’ll be talking about layers for beginners. Now this video is for people who are brand new to Photoshop Elements and the reason why I’m doing this is I get these kind of questions people are very confused about layers when they’re first starting out with Photoshop Elements, and if you’ve watched any of my videos you see that layers are vitally important for doing most of my projects. So this is to get everybody up to speed so you know how to use layers to make it much easier to work with my video projects. Okay let’s get to it. We’ll start off with the very basics right now and that’s that this thing over here on the right hand side this is your layers panel and you’ll see that right down the bottom down here it says layers that’s the button to show and hide that layers panel right there if you don’t see that you can also go up through the window menu and come down here there’s layers as click on that or hit the f11 key all of those will bring up the layers panel now normally I have my layers panel running all the time two more things when you’re working with my projects I do all of my projects in the expert mode up here so not in the quick mode not even guided but in the expert mode and also I normally have my program set up to open up floating windows may show you that very quickly as well go up to the Edit menu come down to preferences right down there at the bottom of that go over here to general click on that and here’s the little Preferences dialog box and you want to take a look right down here where it says allow floating documents in expert mode make sure that’s checked also make sure that enable floating document window docking is checked as well make sure that those two are checked once you have that done then all the basics are set what that allows you to do is to pull your tab down like this and float your window or go back up here notice that kind of goes transparent let go it docks it again this is also very useful when you’re moving images from one file to another we’re looking at that as well okay so that’s the basics of where the layers panel is how to open it up and also my two basic settings that’s that expert tab right there and of course the floating documents let’s now open up two files go to file new let’s do a blank file I’ll leave mine at these standard default Photoshop Elements size and there we go that’s the floating window comes in as a floating window right there let’s open up one more I’ll do file and open and honest grab something off of here this is a bunch of stuff I’ve done in previous discussions here previous projects I’ll just grab one of these here’s a recent one that I did I’ll use this one bring that open and there we go now when you bring in a new image like this just opening up the file it comes in as one layer in the layers panel and it says background this is little lock over here this shows that the transparency is locked there’s no transparency in here already can’t kind of ignore that it’s a special layer that’s always on the bottom of your layers deck if you’re working with that it most of the time only comes in handy if you’re changing the background using the graphics down here which i’ve done on a few of my videos but in most cases that’s what you get let’s look at the blank file this is the same basic thing it says background right there there’s your luck and there’s your background so it’s really the same thing either with an image or with a new file they’re both opened up like that aside from that there is no difference between a new file and an image is just that this is a picture in it and this doesn’t okay it’s closed that down now normally when I’m working with an image like in here I don’t want to be doing any changes on the background layer this is just a safety precaution and easy way to do that is to go up here notice we have a bunch of buttons up here the one you care about the most is that one right there and that’s create a new layer if you just click on that you get a new blank layer above whatever layer you were just on there’s our blank layer that’s what kind checkerboard pattern that means that this is transparent so I actually see through this layer to the layer underneath if you want to get rid of a layer does it the trash can over there it’ll ask you to confirm that and that goes away if you want to copy a layer just take that layer and drag it up to that same button and it gives you a copy I do this all the time I’ll then hide that I can under whatever I want on this copy of the background and I’ll never touch my original so I make a mess and ruin it up here I can always go back and make another copy from the background that’s why I use this as a safety very very good habit to be in let me now show you the two main reasons why I like having floating document windows one is I can pull it up like this grab my corner and make the window much larger and then use my zoom tool over here and just zoom in and get a much bigger image to work on I can still move it around I can cut up and you’ll pull that up I can still get to all of my options down here my tools over there but I can get a real close real nice large image that’s one of the main reasons I like using these floating windows the other reason let me just put this back to a smaller size here’s our soom control right there let’s bring it down a bit there we are and I’ll squeeze this back down other reason I like using floating windows is that I can take this layer over here knows that it has kind of a dark background that’s what we’re currently on that’s this layer here I can take this miss drag it over to this file and it copies that layer from here over to that file I’m just going to hide this one I’ll click on that little minimize button and hide that if you want to see it again let’s go to the photo bin and it’s right there in the photo bin go back to our tool options I also normally switch over here to my basic move tool just out of habit I always go back to that tool now once we have it here notice that this is underneath all of these layers in here each one of these layers is one of the letters right in there the very top that’s the for beginners that’s that bit right there now if I am on this layer that’s selected I can move that object around this case that’s that picture so you can move around the contents of a layer independently of any other layers this is the main reason why you want to be working with layers is that you can work on the layers independently of each other and that gives you all kinds of power when you’re working in this program lots of stuff you can do with that that’s a major technique here for working with your different projects now you can change the order in here of your layers notice also layers for beginners that’s right here says for beginners is actually in front of everything else what’s on top is also in front I can show that I’ll go here it says for beginners and I’ll drag it up here on top you see there it is it’s in front of everything else so what’s on top is in front see here the L is in front of the a which is just beneath it the a is above the Y and it’s in front of the Y the Y is above the E and it’s in front of the e so the stacking here is things in front down to things in behind and then your background you can change the order just by taking a layer you can actually drag it up and down notice that kind of a dark line that goes in there that shows you where it’s going to go once you let go I’ll let go right here it moves up to that point it’s now in front of all those litters but it’s in behind the ill and it’s in behind for beginners so you can change the stacking order here very easily something else that you can do is you can show and hide layers that’s this bit right there little I click on that and it hides it click on that again and it shows you say hide and show layers this allows you to have several different layers they be using for different parts of a project or possibly that you are going to be using for different versions of the project just show and hide those there you go something else you can do I’m just going to pull this down to the bottom again something else you can do if you’re working in footage of elements 15 or later 15 or 2018 or 2019 and that’s this button right there this is a layer group click on that you get a new group there it is I’ll drag that to the top and you can then put things inside of that group I’m going to click on the top layer here and I’m going to hold the shift key down and click on the bottom of my so you can select more than one layer at a time click on one click on the second one holding down the shift key I’ll then pull all those and put them on top of that group layer and puts them inside the group notice here that they’re now kind of moved in just a little bit they’re indented that shows are there inside of the group now where this is useful is two main things I can show or hide what’s in that group a little arrow right there click on that it shows it click it again it hides it so it’s a real help to organize everything in here also there’s a lie here I can show or hide everything in that group with just that one click there’s a lot more you can do with groups as well bless good enough for right now for our basic discussion let’s just go ahead will collapse that and hide that and there’s two more things I want to talk about here about layers just for beginners everything else I cover in my tour video so if I’m doing a video how you do a different technique I’ll show you that technique in the video but you’ll understand that once you understand all of this stuff the first one is how to change your background I’m gonna hide this layer right here just hide that one and I’ll change this background in here you can do anything you want you can paint in here if you want to you can add a pattern in here if you want to the fun thing to do is go down here to the button that says graphics click on that brings up your graphics and at the little drop down here change that to backgrounds and then we get all kinds of backgrounds in here you can use to put on that background layer I’m gonna choose this one right there click on it and there’s that background so go back to the layers you’ll see how that now fills that background layer if I go back to graphics again let’s change to something else me just grab this one right here it changes to this one if I go back to layers it has now changed that layer now there is a way if you want to have more than one background you can switch back and forth between without going to graphics it’s easy to do just take this background layer drag it up to with a new layer button right there gives you a copy of the background notice how the actual background layer is italicized and this and it’s not italicized the background layer also is always at the bottom so always your bottom one there won’t be any place else it’s always at the very bottom so it’s hide that copy let’s go back to graphics go back to this one just one click there it is back to our layers and there’s that new background I can now switch back and forth real fast just by showing and hiding this second layer okay that’s the first way to come in and work with your backgrounds the other thing is bringing in images into your project man we already copy it over let me show you that one more time that’s the easiest way to bring a layer or a new layer into a project go up here to file – is still open isn’t okay it’s got into photo bin it’s right there just take the layer you want and this is again we’re floating windows really helps just grab that layer drag it over here let go and it makes a copy and it comes in as a new layer right there the reason it says background copy is because that’s what it was called in the other file right here background copy you can rename those just double click on the name and type in a new name if you want to okay the second way to bring a new layer in new image just hide that one let’s go back to file again there it is I’m going to go up here to select and all or the control a key or a shortcut that little marching ants but this means that this is now selected I can then go up here to edit and copy there you go let’s just hide that again we’re back over in here and then edit paste and it pasted that in as a new layer this time it comes in as layer one that’s just the name that it gives it’s the exact same thing as this one down here it’s just a different name because we pasted it in it gives it in as a new layer so that’s your second way of bringing an image onto your layers you show you the last way and that’s to place an image let’s go up here to file come down to place right there so if we find your image there it is I’ll click on that one choose place and it places that image into your file again notice how it comes back in as a new layer right there notes at this time it has the name of the file as the name of the layer when it’s in places click on that green checkmark there we go that’s our third way to bring images into a new project again there’s a lot we can do with layers and all of my projects if I do different layer things I’ll show you those steps in the in the projects so there you go that’s all the basics of how to work with the different layers inside of Photoshop Elements again real basics up here you can show or hide layers right there you can rearrange layers just by clicking the one and dragging it I just put that in behind the a so you can drag up it down you can put them into groups if you have Elements 15 or later you can show or hide layers down here you can bring layers in by dragging and dropping you can bring them in by copying and pasting or you can bring them in by using the place command right there and again everything else you’ll see in all of my other project videos it’s there you go that’s how to work with layers and that’s a good basic beginning for working with the most important aspect of Photoshop Elements which is understanding how the layers work and last thing if you found this video useful make sure you click that like button and also share their friends is click on the share button and share away if you haven’t already done so also make sure you subscribe to my channel and if you really want to learn how to use Photoshop Elements the best way to do that is with my training course and there’s a link for that right down there in the description thank you for watching my video I hope you found it useful if you like this video click on the like button below to let others know you can click the subscribe button so you don’t miss any of my videos in the future and frequently uploading new training videos don’t forget to check out my website at houck aguru zheng calm


  1. George – EXCELLENT tutorial. Thank you for making it! Elements can do so much that it can get to be overwhelming for someone new to it. Your videos help demystify things!

  2. Could you do a similar tutorial for beginners for layer masks and clipping masks (please)? Those always confuse me.

  3. 'Demystify' is an excellent way to describe what George does. Although I had been using PSE for a number of years I found that I struggled to get the results that I was looking for. Since I started following George, I feel a heck of a lot more confident and am somewhat happier with the end-results. I never really understood just what could be done within a layer, so there have been not a few eye-openers!

  4. Check out more great Photoshop Elements Beginner videos

  5. I just downloaded the trial of Elements 2019. First thing I need to do is enlarge the size of the fonts on the window. I can barely read the top line. How can I do that?

  6. Excellent as always ! Hey guys, do check out How to Gurus complete course. It's really great — but I also enjoy these videos he posts.

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