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Working with Layers

The clear, logical layout of the Layers palette, with the “stacking” of layers one on top of the other, helps you keep track of the images and elements you have on each layer. The top layers are the most visible. If the content of the top layer fills the canvas and is set to 100% opacity, the content of the layers underneath is hidden. Sometimes an image has only one layer. A JPEG image taken with a digital camera, for example, if opened in Photoshop contains only one layer, called Background. This single layer means the image is flattened. When you create a new document in Photoshop, you always create a document with one layer. If you choose Transparent from the Background Contents drop-down menu, your layer is called Layer 1 and the layer is empty.

Photoshop layers work like stacks of clear plastic film on which elements of the complete composite reside. Figure 6.1 starts with a black background. Add to that your base image and then the shadow of your subject—each added on a piece of clear plastic film. Continue adding your subjects on stacked layers of plastic film.


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