Question about using Layers in PSCS2

Discussion in 'Graphics Programs and Photo Gallery' started by Point-N-Shoot, Dec 1, 2006.

  1. Point-N-Shoot

    Point-N-Shoot TPF Noob!

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    I was told that you should ALWAYS use layers when retouching photos to keep from degrading the image. I understand the concept of layers, but not when to use them or how to apply them.

    For instance, do I need to use the layer palette if I just want to brighten and sharpen an image? Will it really degrade the image that much if I simply made both adjustments to the original then saved it? Do you have to convert a photo to .psd format BEFORE you can use layers on it?

    Also...does anyone here know a good in-depth video tutorial on BASIC Photoshop CS2, one designed for a PS newbie? All of the tutorials for CS2 that I've viewed so far assume that you've used a prior version of Photoshop and explain the "new" features and dont really explain what the features were designed for or how and when to apply them. I need a tutorial that assumes CS2 is the very FIRST version of Photoshop I've ever used...because it is.

    Thanks
     
  2. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    First of all...most people will tell you NEVER save over your original image. Always save a copy.

    If I'm just doing a quick touch up of an image for the purpose of displaying on the web...or a quick print...then I will just make the adjustment without layers...but if I'm working on the image...then I'll always use layers.

    In the layers pallet...you can create adjustment layers. These are layers specifically for things like Levels, Curve, Hue/Saturation etc. It's good to have these on separate layers...so that you can make the adjustment...but then go back and tweak it afterward. Also, if you leave the background layer untouched...you can always go back. If you don't use layers...then any adjustments you make...become part of the image. (well you can use the history tools to go back...but layers are easier).

    Layers also allow you to work on certain parts of the image...without affecting other parts. You can select some parts...and make a new layer with just those parts...or you can crate a layer mask. Layer masks are very useful because they let you apply affects/adjustments...to certain parts of the image...but you can always edit the mask to fine tune what parts of the image are affected.

    When I'm done editing...I'll usually save a working copy in PSD format...so that I can come back and work on it again. But I will also save a separate copy for printing...and a resized/compressed copy for uploading. When it's all said and done...I might have 4 or 5 copies of the image.

    I guess it depends on your level of expertise...but I have found that the majority of photoshop tutorials are quite basic...and the rest are very technical. To get good...you have to practice, practice, practice. There also good forums for you to ask questions. This one is pretty good:D...but there are Photoshop specific forums as well.

    Check out this link, it's got tons of links to photoshop tips, tricks and tutorials.
     
  3. fmw

    fmw No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I don't use layers very often mostly because I haven't progressed far enough into Photoshop to really take advantage of the power than layers offers. With the exception of web photography, I shoot everything raw and save the images in a folder for raw images. After I bring them into Photoshop I save them immediately as tiffs in a folder called TIFF and then begin to work on them. When I'm done I resize them or do whatever needs to be done and I resave them as tiffs. I back up the RAW folder every time I add new images. I don't bother with the TIFF folder. I never touch the raw images except to load them into photoshop to be converted to tiff. That solves the problem of losing my original - at least for me.

    I've done a lot of reading about Photoshop and advanced users use layers all the time. I'll get there one day. In the mean time my originals will always be original.
     
  4. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Even when you use layers...you still shouldn't touch your original files. Layers are tools that you use within an image. Although I guess someone could use their base/background layer as the way keep their original image...but that seems weird to me.
     
  5. dewey

    dewey TPF Noob!

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    Mike is 100% right. Using layers in Photoshop is something everyone should practice. Using layers not only helps create a better image it also saves time. My advice is to create a Photoshop action (so you don't have to do this every image) that creates adjustment layers for at the very least:

    1) Levels
    2) Curves
    3) Hue & Saturation
    4) Brightness & Contrast

    I also use one for color balance and a few others, but the above I would argue are the most useful for people just getting into PS. By using these adjustment layers you can "toggle on & off" the changes you make while you work. If an adjustment isn't quite right you can also adjust the opacity of the layer to make it just right.

    When you create this PS action it doesn't even have to make any changes - it can just make the adjustment layers. After it makes the layers it's just a double click to make your changes. It's easier than using the pulldowns anyway.

    The action I created opens the RAW file, adds the adjustment layers and saves the file as a PSD. Basically I choose the images I want to edit in my file browser, run the action as a batch and go grab a Diet Coke. Depending on the number of images processing it could take a few minutes. When it's done running I have images ready for edit and all of my layers are ready.

    As Mike mentioned adjustment layers are important. After making a selection don't forget to feather so the change isn't so drastic.

    I shoot in RAW so I don't have to worry about saving over the original image... if you are shooting JPG you should never save over the original - quality begins to head South.

    No you do not have to "convert" an image to a PSD to work with layers... when you are done editing and you want to save those layers you need to save it as a PSD or you lose them.

    Having said that it's always a good idea to save the PSD - if you want to go back and make a fast change the edits are still "open" for edit. When I'm done with an image I'm using I usually have at least four copies. The original RAW file, a PSD file with my edits, a high quality JPG for printing, and a small JPG for the web.

    There are alot of tutorials out there... some of them are a liitle ugly :mrgreen: I would say pick a topic and Google it - learn a bit at a time. Also never forget about Photoshop help - Adobe has lots of good info in there.

    Let us know if you have any questions and we'll steer you in the right direction!

    Dew
     
  6. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Along with those standard adjustment layers...a good thing to do at the start would be to duplicate the background layer. That's usually the first thing I do.... Ctrl-J

    Good point, I forgot to mention that one.
     
  7. Rabieshund

    Rabieshund TPF Noob!

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    Okay, here are some good tips.

    Layers should be used when:
    - Adjusting colors, contrasts, brightness, etc. (adjustment layers)
    - Sharpening your image (duplicate your base layer and sharpen that instead, then you can always go back and change it later)
    - Cloning areas (check Sample All Layers and use on a new layer)
    - Painting (if you for example want to make dark area black by adding some quick brushing)
    - Adding gradients and similar stuff

    Layers should be used for everything. No excuses! Do not merge layers if not necessary.

    - When you want to erase parts of a layer, use a Layer mask. NEVER use the eraser if you're doing serious work. Layer masks are one of the best functions in the program. You can read about them in the help file.
    - Try to avoid using other filters than sharpen filters, blur filters and noise filters. The Artistic filters and such will make your pictures look very unprofessional and will just ruin everything.
    - Once you add a layer, it will want to save as a .PSD, as JPG does not support layers. Save your file often, you never know when programs crash..

    There are lots of video tutorials at http://www.lynda.com. You have to pay for tutorial DVD's, but often you can watch a few parts on each DVD. You can probably find something useful there. Photoshop tutorials by Photoshop gurus.
    And always look in the help file if you wonder anything. Photoshop comes with a great help file that should be used more often.

    And also, learn hotkeys! You can set them yourself if you want.
     
  8. Point-N-Shoot

    Point-N-Shoot TPF Noob!

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    Thanks guys...good info.

    So...say I have a jpg photo that I want to adjust shadows, color and sharpness...first I copy the background image as my first layer...then I'd create a seperate layer for each of the adjustments, and once I'm happy with the way it looks, flatten the image and save it as both a psd AND a jpg??
     
  9. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    When you create a separate layer for each adjustment...the best way is to use the icon on the bottom of the layers pallet...to create adjustment layers.

    If you plan to work on the image at a later time...don't flatten the layers...just save it as a PSD and it will retain all the different layers. Then you can flatten it and save a JPEG copy if you want.
     
  10. Point-N-Shoot

    Point-N-Shoot TPF Noob!

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    Ah, I see...thanks Mike.


    Hey, Rab...

    when you say "Do not merge layers if not necessary", what do you mean by that? Is "merging" different from "flattening"? Please elaborate.
     
  11. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Merging and flattening is basically the same. When you flatten...you flatten all layers into one. When you merge...you can flatten certain layers together...while leaving others.
     

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