Digital Scrapbook Memories

Understanding Layers in Photoshop

© Digital Scrapbook Memories, 2006 - 2015
This tip works on any version of Photoshop including Elements. Similar programs will do similar things.

Understanding layers is the key to Photoshop. When you understand this simple concept you will be amazed how easy it is to scrapbook on the computer. Using layers while creating your scrapbook page makes things easy because you can move things around all you want as you work on the page just as you could if you were working with paper and glue.


First make sure you have your layers palette open. If you don’t have the layers palette on the right side of your screen go to Windows (in the drop-down menus) and click on layers.

If you were creating a scrapbook page with paper and glue what is the first thing you would start with? A background, right? It’s the same in Photoshop. When you open a new file that graphic (picture) becomes the background. If you are working with a new blank document your background will be blank.

The next thing you would do with paper scrapbooking is start laying pictures and embellishments on your page. Each picture and element you lay down is really just a different layer to your page, right? When paper scrapbooking if you set your picture down then decide you want to put a matte behind it you could change the layer order by simply putting the matte under the picture. Again, it’s the same in Photoshop. If you want a top layer below another just drag it down below in the layers palette as shown below. You can move your layers around all you want. 

Layer Palette

Layer Visibility
In the left column of your layers palette you will see little eye icons. If you want to see what your page looks like without a certain layer you can click on the eyeball to hide that layer from sight. You can keep it hidden as long as you want and it will be there for you if you decide to use that layer later. You could also permanently delete the layer by dragging it down to the waste basket on the bottom.

Linking layers
In paper scrapbooking you can glue layers together to make sure they always stay together as you move them around the page. Same with Photoshop. You can merge the layers permanently together by clicking on the more button at the top of the layers palette or you can first temporarily link layers together by clicking on the box in the second column. In the example above since Layer 4 is highlighted any layers you link would be linked to that layer. If you want to link different layers together highlight a different layer. You can link layers in CS2 but it’s done differently. You can read how to do this in CS2 in the help section at the top of the Photoshop screen.

Create a new layer
The best tip I can give you is to ALWAYS create on multiple layers. Try to remember to paint on separate layers so that if you decide you don’t like it later you can easily move or delete it.

Notice: The picture at the top is meant to give you a visual reminder of what layers really are. If you look at the picture of the layers palette you will see each layer in the top picture.

Please e-mail us if you need clarification on this tutorial!