groovyPost teaches Photoshop: Layers Basics for CS5

As part of our groovy “GroovyPost Teaches Photoshop” series, today we’re going to talk a little about Layers.  Layers are a very important basic for Photoshop so today we are going to review some of the basic usage like How-To create and group Layers. Let’s jump right into things by starting out with a Screencast and then following it up with our standard Step-by-Step.

Adobe Photoshop Layers for CS5: Screencast

Adobe Photoshop Layers for CS5 Details

What is a layer?

Think of a layer as an object or image separated into its own personal space. To give you a quick demo of this, let’s say you have two sheets of paper – a red and blue one. You can have them each side by side on the same workspace (image), and you can also have them overlap. Well, if those two sheets of paper were in Photoshop, their layers would look like this…


…and the image would be something like this:


But what if we were to get these to be on top of one another? Let’s grab the red layer and move it over the blue one.


OK, cool! But what if I wanted the blue sheet to be on top of the red one? Well, let’s grab the layer of the blue sheet and drag it on top of the red one.


And just like that, the blue sheet of paper is now on top of the red one.


In short, Layers separate different objects on your Photoshop Canvas from each other and allow you to choose which items are layered on top of the others.

How can I create a Layer?

Creating a layer is an incredibly simple process. You can either go to the layers panel and click the Create new layer icon…



…or press Shift+Ctrl+N on your keyboard to get into some more advanced options.


You can rename your layer, and you can create or paste in any object you want, but keep in mind that you need to create a new, separate layer for every new object you want to drop on your canvas so you can control your canvas.

How can I group similar Layers together?

Photoshop professionals work on documents including 100+ layers, so using just names really isn’t an option, as things can get messy really quickly. So, to keep things nice and organized, Adobe thought of something called layer groups. They can be created by clicking the Create a new group icon on the layers panel…


… or by selecting the layers you want to group…

…and pressing Ctrl+G.


Layer groups, just like layers, can be renamed to add additional tidiness in your documents and can also help you turn on or off multiple layers at once.  Other than keeping things organized, they don’t really have much of a use other than that.

How can I blend two backgrounds together using layers?

Perhaps the last most important thing for layers is their blending mode. Taking a look back at our image, when selecting the Blue layer, we can see its blending mode is set to Normal


thus making the image look like this:


But if we were to change the blending mode (to Color for example)…


…we get a completely different type of image effect:


There are many different blending modes that help mixing objects that are stacked, and that can also help create interesting image effects. Some of the most often used ones are Overlay, Hard Light, Subtract, and Color, but you can play around and find out which ones work best for you.



  1. jim allen

    March 19, 2012 at 5:48 pm

    somehow i keep making the same mistake which causes me to make no progress.
    can you help me?
    i have a some pictures that i want to be put on separate layers.
    But when i go to put the second picture on its own layer the first picture on its layer disappears from the layers palette.
    what is happening?

  2. Stefan

    July 5, 2014 at 2:23 am

    1) Open your first image with Ctrl+O
    2) Place additional images onto new layers with File > Place and then Enter (Return)
    3) To enable editing on a specific layer, simply right click on a layer and pick Rasterize

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


To Top