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Adobe Photoshop CC Bootcamp

Lesson 25 of 118

Organizing and Managing Layers

Blake Rudis

Adobe Photoshop CC Bootcamp

Blake Rudis

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Lesson Info

25. Organizing and Managing Layers


Class Trailer

Bootcamp Introduction


The Bridge Interface


Setting up Bridge


Overview of Bridge


Practical Application of Bridge


Introduction to Raw Editing


Setting up ACR Preferences & Interface


Global Tools Part 1


Global Tools Part 2


Local Tools


Introduction to the Photoshop Interface


Toolbars, Menus and Windows


Setup and Interface


Adobe Libraries


Saving Files


Introduction to Cropping


Cropping for Composition in ACR


Cropping for Composition in Photoshop


Cropping for the Subject in Post


Cropping for Print


Perspective Cropping in Photoshop


Introduction to Layers


Vector & Raster Layers Basics


Adjustment Layers in Photoshop


Organizing and Managing Layers


Introduction to Layer Tools and Blend Modes


Screen and Multiply and Overlay


Soft Light Blend Mode


Color and Luminosity Blend Modes


Color Burn and Color Dodge Blend Modes


Introduction to Layer Styles


Practical Application: Layer Tools


Introduction to Masks and Brushes


Brush Basics


Custom Brushes


Brush Mask: Vignettes


Brush Mask: Curves Dodge & Burn


Brush Mask: Hue & Saturation


Mask Groups


Clipping Masks


Masking in Adobe Camera Raw


Practical Applications: Masks


Introduction to Selections


Basic Selection Tools


The Pen Tool


Masks from Selections


Selecting Subjects and Masking


Color Range Mask


Luminosity Masks Basics


Introduction to Cleanup Tools


Adobe Camera Raw


Healing and Spot Healing Brush


The Clone Stamp Tool


The Patch Tool


Content Aware Move Tool


Content Aware Fill


Custom Cleanup Selections


Introduction to Shapes and Text


Text Basics


Shape Basics


Adding Text to Pictures


Custom Water Marks


Introduction to Smart Objects


Smart Object Basics


Smart Objects and Filters


Smart Objects and Image Transformation


Smart Objects and Album Layouts


Smart Objects and Composites


Introduction to Image Transforming


ACR and Lens Correction


Photoshop and Lens Correction


The Warp Tool


Perspective Transformations


Introduction to Actions in Photoshop


Introduction to the Actions Panel Interface


Making Your First Action


Modifying Actions After You Record Them


Adding Stops to Actions


Conditional Actions


Actions that Communicate


Introduction to Filters


ACR as a Filter


Helpful Artistic Filters


Helpful Practical Filters


Sharpening with Filters


Rendering Trees


The Oil Paint and Add Noise Filters


Introduction to Editing Video


Timeline for Video


Cropping Video


Adjustment Layers and Video


Building Lookup Tables


Layers, Masking Video & Working with Type


ACR to Edit Video


Animated Gifs


Introduction to Creative Effects


Black, White, and Monochrome


Matte and Cinematic Effects


Gradient Maps and Solid Color Grades




Glow and Haze


Introduction to Natural Retouching


Brightening Teeth


Clean Up with the Clone Stamp Tool


Cleaning and Brightening Eyes


Advanced Clean Up Techniques


Introduction to Portrait Workflow & Bridge Organization


ACR for Portraits Pre-Edits


Portrait Workflow Techniques


Introduction to Landscape Workflow & Bridge Organization


Landscape Workflow Techniques


Introduction to Compositing & Bridge


Composite Workflow Techniques


Landscape Composite Projects


Bonus: Rothko and Workspace


Bonus: Adding Textures to Photos


Bonus: The Mask (Extras)


Bonus: The Color Range Mask in ACR


Lesson Info

Organizing and Managing Layers

So here we are in Photoshop, and we're just going to go ahead and take a look at how that smiley face we built with the same concept of the transparency layers but right here inside of Photoshop. So as you can see, the bottom layer here is a blank, opaque layer. There is no transparency to this layer. It is solid white. Here would be our face on a layer. Here would be our mouth on a layer. And here are our eyes on a layer. Now, each one of these layers, if we press V for the move tool, we can click on those layers and we can move them around independently and individually without moving the entire face. Now if we wanted to, we could grab and make a selection of multiple things by pressing control or command and clicking on say the mouth and moving them together also. So now that face is now moving around together. If we were to do something like press control E which would merge these two layers, control or command E would merge these two layers and they still have transparency behind ...

them. And now if we take a look at them by theirself, pressing alt or option and clicking on that eyeball, will allow us to see it by itself. So working with layers, these hotkeys are really important. Alt or option and clicking on the eyeball or the preview of a layer will allow you to only look at that individual layer. If I were to press alt or option and click on that layer again, it's now going to show me all of the other layers underneath of it. So it's a temporary way for you to see what that one individual layer looks like to maybe problem solve and troubleshoot. If, by chance, you press alt or option and click on that and then were to maybe turn the preview on on the face, if you go back and press alt or option and click on that eye, it's not going to show everything and reveal all like it would before. That's just the way it's set up. It's set up so that it temporarily only shows you what the last states were that you were looking at. So if you have all of the previews on and you press alt or option and click on those, that eye and that face, that's gonna allow you to see just that individual layer. So if we were to merge both of these layers down, we could press control and E on the face, and we now have these layers merged down if we move this by pressing V for the move tool, we're now moving that face all around the canvas and it's now moving off of the opaque canvas that we have there. There is another type of layer that we can create from this and that's a layer stamp. And a layer stamp is a really powerful tool because what it does is it actually looks at your entire layer stack, it assesses what you've done with all of the work within that layer stack, and it gives you a stamped layer above everything that you've done. It's a crazy kind of hotkey to use. It's control, shift, alt, and E. So you notice that we did control E. Control E will make two layers merged that you have selected. And if we press control, shift, alt, and E, that makes the stamp above the top. So what this stamp is doing is it's not allowing you to see what's underneath everything now because if we look at this stamp, this stamp is a combination of the face and the eyes and the smiley face below and the opaque sheet that we have below. The layer stamp is great when you're working in images where you want to do something to what we call the pixel-based imaged. These, right here, are also pixel-based images that we see right here but they have a transparency behind them. You want to do something to alter the state of the entire layer stack that you're working on, a stamp is a great way to do it because it's temporary. If you don't like what you did, you can always click on that layer and press delete and now it's not there, you just have those eyes, the face, and then the opaque transparency below. So another way to look at layers here is I'm going to go ahead and open up a diagram here, and this diagram is really great for looking at how layers move and how layers interact and how we can organize our layers. So looking at this diagram, we see a blank white background, we see a square, and we see a red circle and a cyan circle. And we can do things with layers so that those layers interact with one another and can be linked with one another and connected with one another. So in the example that we looked in the past, we looked at the smiley face and we moved the eyes individually and we moved the mouth individually and we moved the face individually once we had that together, but you don't necessarily need to merge layers together in order to move them so that they move together like we would with the eyes and the mouth. So with this diagram that we have here, we're just going to take a look at some of the tools that we have within Photoshop in that layers palette that you might not necessarily use quite as much as you'd think. So if we look at the circle here, if I press V for the move tool and I move this circle around, I move it left and I move it right, you can see it's moving independently from the circle below. But if I were to control click and select both of these layers and then right click, I can do something called link layers. And linking these layers, you see it's puts a little chain link next to both of those layers that identifies that those two layers are linked together. They belong to one another. They are bound together. So now if I move these circles to the left and to the right, they actually move together. They don't move independently, they move together. If we press and hold shift while we move those layers, they will move along the path without going up. So I'm actually, you can't see it, but I'm just slightly pushing up on my mouse, and they aren't moving up. What that's doing is that Photoshop is saying you want me to move this either up or down or left or right. If you try to move at an angle, it's not going to move them. They'll just move in parallel or perpendicular formation. When you're doing things with design work, that's really important to know so that as you're aligning text and stuff, when you press and hold that shift, they all stay in that parallel kind of movement. And you'll notice that with a lot of tools. A lot of the tools that you're going to have in Photoshop by pressing things like control and alt and shift while you're using those tools will do different things to those tools, and Photoshop doesn't tell you. It's not like it's saying hey, I'm going into this mode now. You just kind of have to intuitively know that. But the cool thing about this is the magic behind these linked layers is that because they are not merged, I can put other things in between them, and they are still linked and still connected. So if I were to come down to this square and put this square in between them, the square is now overlapping the red circle, right. But if I were to click on our cyan circle and press V for the move tool, look at them moving now. They're moving independently with that square right in between them. Because these are linked, other things can be between them but as we move them, they're gonna move independently from the rest of the canvas, and we did that without having to merge them. So with the smiley face, we merged them, and that would be kind of what we call a destructive step because I'm now losing the capability of them being individually on their own layers whereas now, because these are linked, they're bound but not sandwiched, and things can move independently between them. This would be a non-destructive step to ensure that the things that you want linked together stay linked together without having to be flattened down or merged together. Looking at some of these other tools that we have here, we have the ability to lock transparency. We have the ability to lock image pixels. We have the ability to lock position. And we have the ability to prevent any intersecting into art boards, which I don't do a whole lot with art boards, and then locking those layers. So with these tools, these are locks that will lock certain things in place. If we were to lock this layer and I tried to move it, it's not going to let me move it now. It's saying could not move this because that layer is locked. That's an identifier telling me that these layers need to be exactly where you want them to be. So if I accidentally tried to move them, let's say I'm building something with shapes and text, design work, and I want to ensure that those things do not move because they are the most important piece, I can lock them so that they cannot move now. So I can't move them, I can't do a whole lot of editing to them, they are locked. And the other thing that's really interesting here is locking transparency. So if you lock the transparency and then we use our brush and I try to brush on this circle, you'll see that the transparency around it is locked. So Photoshop is smart enough to know that when you press lock transparency, it wants to make sure that the area around that circle is locked. Watch what happens if I unlock that transparency and then paint, it paints the whole area around it. That's another really interesting thing to note, especially when you're doing design work, it really helps out a lot there. The other thing that we have here is for some of our other layer organizational tools. So if I go into this image, for instance, this image is a composite, it's already been built. If we look at the layers stack here, there's already a lot of work that's going on with this layers stack. So pretty advanced at this point to be talking about this much composite work being on one image. But I did this for a reason. I want to show you how you can simplify your life within Photoshop using things like groups and also using things to look up certain layers. So when you're building a composite, I've done composites that have been upwards of 95 to 110 or 115 layers in one composite that you're building. And you have some of these layers that are so minuscule that they're things that are just like a slight brush that's happening in the background, but you would think that it's not doing a whole lot but it's adding a little bit of maybe light to a source, that's an individual layer. I don't want to do anything else on that layer because that layer is doing something that another layer cannot do. So while I say 100 layers, some of those layers are just the very smallest little thing that's happening in there. So what you want to do is you're building up these layers is you want to make sure that you're labeling things appropriately. Any one of your layers, right here you see circle and you see square, if you double click right there, you can call this circle cyan. So now I know that that circle is cyan. Double click on this one, and now I know that this circle is red. Now, obviously by looking at the colors, it's very easy to see what that is. But when you have a layers stack that's got 100 layers in it and you need to find something quickly and easily, you can do that right here where you see this little thing that says kind. That kind, that's where we want to stay if we're not really doing much searching for anything. But when you click this drop down and we click on something like name, I can call this texture. And now, it's only searching my layers palette for things with the word texture in it. If the word texture isn't in there, it's not going to be visible. But that doesn't mean that it's throwing everything else out. It's a temporary state for me to look up what's happening within that composite so I can see what layers might be a texture layer. So if I need to make any modifications or any edits to that texture layer, I can just open up this drop down if I had layers in there, that's just a group at this point, that would show me anything that is the word texture. So now if I were to go and say effect. This will look at all the layer styles that are happening in any one of those given layers and look it up by does it have a bevel and emboss, does it have a stroke path, does it have an inner shadow, an inner glow, or maybe something like an overlay, and you can see that this has an overlay that's turned off. So now I know, if there's something that's happening in my image and I'm not sure what's going on but I'm like yeah, that might be something to do with an overlay, I can look up anything that might have a color overlay within a layer style. If I were to even go in and say color, I can do a search on anything that has the orange color code that I've given a layer. I can look at anything that has a red color code that I've given that color code a layer. So if we go back over to our example here and I click on this layer and I right click it, here is my color options. I can make this, the closest color to that would probably be blue so we'll make that a blue layer, and we'll click on this and we'll make this a red layer. So now that tells me that these layers are red and blue layers. So if I'm searching for things, this could be one of those things that you do internally where you say, like for me, effect-based things, I like to make effect-based things purple. So as I'm looking through my layers stack, if I see something that's purple, that tells me that that is something that is an effect that's being built up upon my canvas. If I see something that's red, that's typically something that I'm telling myself like hey, if something's going on here, you really want to look at this layer. And I just know that internally like dodging and burning. I might make my dodging and burning a red layer as opposed to a violet or a purple layer. And you can have those internal color codes for yourself very much like you can have your internal color codes for your catalogs of your images as well. The real benefit of working and organizing your layers is to clean things up. As you can see with this composite, this image, if we look at this image, let's go back to the kind here that we have here. These kinds, if we were to just do, just click on the landscape looking, this is going to give us anything that's a pixel-based layer, this'll give us anything that's a text-based layer, and this'll give us anything that's an adjustment layer. So you can turn these on and off to cycle through those pretty quickly as well. But if we look at this image, this was a starting point. It was a little composite I was trying to do for I went to a museum and saw a lot of da Vinci's work and wanted to kind of address his work in one composite. You see here we have these groups, these folder groups. These folder groups are phenomenal for organizing your images and you can do the same thing on something like this. So if I were to remove this square and pull this square down here and I want to put these two circles into their own group so now I know where the circles are, I could click on one of the layers, control or command click on the other layer, and then press command or control G and I now have a group. And that group can have it's own color coded layer as well with color coded layers within it. So if I rename this circles, I now have a group, a folder group, labeled circles so I know exactly where those circles are. On something like this, it's pretty rudimentary, it's pretty simple to know what a circle and a square is. I think we learned that a long time ago, but when you're building up these big composites, I stress the importance of organizing your layers, linking the layers that need to be linked together, understanding how their linked relationship is going to work when you're moving certain linked layers around your canvas. Making sure that you also have the layers labeled appropriately. Things that say layer one, layer two, layer three, that's not very helpful. So make sure that you label those layers as they should be, especially when you're talking about things like adjustment layers, and you have a gradient map, or you have, we'll get into adjustment layers at the end of this, label those so that you know what that effect is doing to your image, not just the fact that it's a gradient map.

Class Description

Adobe® Photoshop CC® is a valuable tool for photographers, but it can also be intimidating. In this all-inclusive 20 lesson course, you’ll go from opening the program for the first time to creating images that really stand out. Join Blake Rudis, Photoshop expert and founder of f64 Academy, as he shows you how to maximize your use of Photoshop. 

Topics covered will include:

  • Class Introduction & Bridge, Adobe Camera Raw, Setup Interface, Cropping and Layers
  • Layer Tools, Masks, Selections, Clean-Up Tools and Shapes & Text
  • Smart Objects, Transforming, Actions, Filters, and Editing Video
  • Custom Creative Effects, Natural Retouching, Portrait Workflow, Landscape Workflow, and Composite Workflow

Don’t let the many aspects of Photoshop prevent you from maximizing your use of this amazing app. Blake will help you develop the confidence to use your imagination and create the images that you will be proud to share with your clients.


Adobe Photoshop CC 2018

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Photoshop Bootcamp Plug-In



Painted Backgrounds

1 – Intro to Photoshop Bootcamp

6 – Intro to Raw

11 – Interface and Setup

16 – Intro to Cropping and

22 – Intro to

26 – Intro to Layer

43 – Intro to

50 – Intro to Cleanup

58 – Intro to Shapes and

63 – Intro to Smart

69 – Intro to Image

74 – Intro to

81 –

88 – Intro to Editing

96 – Custom

102 – Natural

107 – Intro to Portrait Workflow.pdf

110 – Intro to Landscape

112 – Intro to

115 – Rothko and Interfaces (Bonus Video).zip

33 – Intro to Masks and

106 - Frequency

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

Related Classes


a Creativelive Student

Amazing course, but don't be fooled into thinking this is a beginner's course for photographers. The problem isn't Blake's explanations; they're top. The problem is the vast scope of this course and the order in which the topics are presented. Take layers for example. When I was first learning Photoshop (back when we learned from books), I found I learned little or nothing from, for example, books that covered layers before they covered how to improve/process photographs. These books taught me how to organize, move, and link layers before they showed me what a layer was actually for. Those books tended to teach me everything there is to know about layers (types of layers, how to organize them, how to move them, how to move them two at a time, how to move them two at a time even if there are other layers between the two you're interested in, useful troubleshooting tips, etc. ) all before I even know (from a photographer's point of view) what it is the things actually do. The examples of organizing, linking, and moving mean everything for graphic designers from Day One, but for photographers not so much. Blake does the same thing as those books. Topics he covers extremely early demand a lot of theoretical imagination for a photographer who doesn't already know quite a bit about what he is talking about. Learning about abstract things first and concrete things later only makes PS that much harder to understand. If you AREN'T a beginner, however, this course is amazing. I thought it would be like an Army Bootcamp, taking you from zero and building you into a fit, competent Photoshop grunt. Now I think it's more like Army Bootcamp for high school varsity jocks. It isn't going to take you from the beginning, but the amount you'll get out of it is nonetheless more than your brain can imagine. I've been using PS for years to improve my photographs, and even to create the odd artistic composite or two. The amount I've learned in the first week is amazing, and every day I learn something -- more like many things -- which I immediately implement to improve my productivity and/or widen the horizons of what I can achieve. If you ARE a photographer who's a Photoshop beginner, I'd take very seriously the advice Blake gives in the introduction: Watch one lesson, and practice the skills and principles you learn in that one lesson for two weeks. THEN watch the next lesson. You can't do that of course without buying the course, so it's up to you to decide whether you'd like to learn Photoshop and master Photoshop all from the same course. Learning it first and mastering it later will cost more money, but I think you'll understand everything better and have a much more enjoyable ride in the process. As for me? I'm going to have to find the money to buy this course. There is simply way too much content in each lesson for me to try to take on all at once, but on the other hand I don't want to miss anything at all that he has to share.

Robert Andrews

Blake Rudis is the absolute best in teaching photoshop. His knowledge and how he presents the instruction is clear and concise - there is NO ONE BETTER. Yes, his classes require some basic skills, and maybe I'd organize the order of (or group) the classes in a different order, but, let me be clear - if anyone is to be successful or famous in the Photoshop world, it should be Blake Rudis. I strongly recommend his teaching. I started photography and post processing in 2018, and because of this class, I'm know what Im doing. The energy you get when you create something beautiful is profound, it makes you bounce out of bed (at 4AM) like a 5 year old, to go create. It's a great ride! Thanks Blake, & Thanks Creative live.

Esther Gambrell

WOW!!! I've been purchasing CL classes for several years now and have watched HOURS of "How-To Photoshop" classes, but this is the first one I've actually purchased because of the AWESOME BONUS content!!! SERIOUSLY??!!?!? A PLUG-IN??? But not only that, Blake is SO easy to understand, and he breaks down concepts in different ways to connect with different people's learning styles. I REALLY appreciated this approach because I am a LEFT-BRAINED creative that has an engineering background, so I really connected to what Blake was saying. THANK YOU FOR THAT! There are TONS of Photoshop courses out there, but I found this one to be the most helpful in they way Blake teaches concepts so that you know WHY you're doing what your doing. I feel like he taught me how to fish with Photoshop to feed me for a lifetime instead of just giving me a fish to feed me for one day. This is the BEST overall PS course out there!!! Thank you!!!!