Photoshop: Layers

  • Smokenjoe
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Post 3+ Months Ago

I just got photoshop and a drawing tablet, and ive been drawing for almost 16 years, so i thought it was about time to branch out into some more difficult work, such as that of Samwise (for those of you not familiar, he is the primary artist for the gameing company Blizzard). It is a fun learning experience, but I was wondering if anyone who has had experience in this field could give me some basic ways to use layers. I normally draw out my piece of artwork, and then scan it into photoshop, so its set as the background. If anyone has some good tips, anything would be helpful.
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Post 3+ Months Ago

  • UNFLUX
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Post 3+ Months Ago

you might have wanted to post this in the "Drawing, Digital Art, and Photography Forum." ;)
  • DR01D
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Post 3+ Months Ago

always good to start on paper, so if you gust want to use the sketch as a guide this is the best way. after that everone has a different technique, some work on single elements at once and others start from the ground up starting with outlines then filling, shading etc. i would say just play around and you will figure out the best way for you.
  • Smokenjoe
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Post 3+ Months Ago

alright, but what are the actualy uses of the layers.? i can understand that they are a major tool, but what are some basic ways to use them? What are they useful for? Just any ideas would be helpful. Maybe what another artist uses them for. Thx.
  • diverdan
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Post 3+ Months Ago

you can let the layers overlap each other

you can blend them together (always an interesting thing to play with)

you can set levels for individual layers (take out red or yellow for instance)

i guess i could go on listing all the possibilities...
  • Smokenjoe
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Post 3+ Months Ago

alright, cool. any other idea are appreciated.
  • DR01D
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Post 3+ Months Ago

basically when you make a composition using images, text, shapes, etc.
you want to build your comp with each element on a different layer so that you can just modify that one element without effecting the rest of the images etc. like if i wanted to edit change the colour of text i would to it to text on a different layer that an image. just easier to work rather than working on a flat image. hope that makes sense ;-)
  • musik
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Post 3+ Months Ago

There are some really helpful tutorials on all kinds of photoshop stuff in this topic http://www.ozzu.com/digital-art-forum/adobe-software-tutorials-tips-tricks-t19982.html

Layers are really handy when you are working on something that has a lot of elements to it. basicially for example you could have something that has a:

1) Background
2) Text
3) Logo

You might put these on separate layers so you can move and edit them easily without having to interfere with the other items. All you do is click between them using the layers menu in your tools pallet. In the same pallet you can hide, lock etc individual layers.
  • Axe
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Smokenjoe wrote:
alright, but what are the actualy uses of the layers.?

If you think back to pen & paper for a minute (or in this case pen & plastic)... Layers are probably best described as a high-tech version of the acetate sheets that traditional animators use.

So, for example. say you're creating a cartoon guy in Photoshop, and you start out with a pen & paper sketch.

You scan in your sketch, open it up in photoshop, resize it to what you need, copy it, and close it, without saving to keep your original restored. You press CTRL+N to bring up a new window, and it will automatically size the dimensions of the new image to whatever's in the clipboard - if what's in the clipboard is a format photoshop understands (which in this case it is).

You press CTRL+V to paste, and there's your layer. Now you'll notice you have two layers in your file. Your sketch on Layer 1, and a "Background" layer. We will keep these layers separate for now - and you'll see why later.

Now you can go ahead and click on the new layer button twice, and that will create layer 2 and layer 3. Make sure layer 3 is selected (which it should be by default with what you've just done). Pick up the pen on your graphics tablet, hit the brush in the tools palette, and make sure black is your foreground colour.

Depending on your version of photoshop, you'll have an options box, a bar across the top, or something somewhere to denote the size of the brush you're going to paint with. You need to modify this so that it's about the right size you need for drawing your outlines. Once you've got the size you need, select it, and make sure you turn "Spacing" to 1% (otherwise, it'll draw in chunks, and won't look as neat as you'd hope).

Now, just start drawing your outline on layer 3. Once you've got a little done, you can click the little eye symbol on layer three to hide it for a second, and you can see the image underneath. If you're coming to a complex part of a scan, or you're not quite sure how the pencil lines go underneath, you can quickly hide your new layer to see below it (so there's the first advantage of layers).

Once you've got your entire outline drawn out, you can go ahead and click on layer 2 in the layers palette. This will select it, and anything we draw now will be on layer 2. So, you can grab a slightly bigger brush, change your foreground colour from black to whatever you want, and start colouring in your sketch on layer 2. So, if you're painting a sketch of a person, you can get red, colour in on their top, then get blue and colour in their pants, then a peachy/pinky/fleshtone for their face & hands, and you don't have to be very precise with this, because layer 3 is taking higher priority in visibility, and those black lines are sitting on top of the colour underneath.

Unlike paper, if you paint black in photoshop, then grab something like bright yellow, and pain over the black, you will see yellow appear over the black. So this is another advantage of using layers. You can fill in chunks of colour all the way to the edge of your borders, without the risk of screwing up those nice neat black lines on your outline layer.

Once you're all coloured in, make sure all your layers are visible, except for the one with the original sketch (Layer 1). If you make that invisible, you can see only what you've drawn on the PC (this is why we kept the sketch as a separate layer). Now you can grab your fill/flood tool (the lil paint can), select a colour, and click on the background layer, and just start changing the colour of the background. Now, both layers 2 & 3 are higher priority in visibility, they're on top of the "background" layer, so you can happily keep changing the colour in the background layer as many times as you like, without messing up the nice neat image you just drew.

Now, for example, you can lock layers 1, 2 & 3 together (lock, not merge), and drag them around and move them to a new location, without draggin the background, and having chunks of colour missing in various parts of the image. So, there's another advantage of using layers (you could also paste in a photograph as your background layer).

Now click back on layer three so it's the active layer, and click on the new layer icon, and layer 4 will pop up. Now you can select your airbrush or paint brush, appropriately sized brush, colours and pressure/opacity, and start shading your guy in.

The advantage of adding your shading on another layer is so that now, well, let's say you don't like that red shirt any more, or the blue pants, and you want to give the guy green pants, and a yellow shirt. You can just click on layer 2, paint over the old colours, and all your new shading is still there and hasn't been affected. You still have all your shadows and highlights, but now everything's a different colour. So, yet another advantage of layers.

So, there are many advantages to layers, above and beyond the traditional transparent plastic sheets that traditional cartoonists use, and there are way way way more advantages to layers than those I've mentioned here, this is just something quick to give you a basic idea of one way they can work very much to your advantage.

And back on the cartoonist side, you could completely split your guy up. Have your torso outline on one layer, torso colouring on another layer, lock 'em together. Create an arm on one layer, its colouring on another layer, lock those together, same for the other arm, then 2 layers for each leg (outline & colour), another 2 for the head, and start to reposition your guy, make various different poses, etc. simply by moving & rotating those pairs of layers (to keep your outlines & colours together).

A bit long-winded, and probably not exactly what you're going to be doing, but this was just to give you a general idea of what they can do at their simplest level.

Hope this helps. Layers really are fun when you get into them. :)
  • Smokenjoe
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Post 3+ Months Ago

THANKS A BUNCH! That gives some good ideas for what i cna do to manipulate my images. Im gonna be up WAY to late tongith messin with this though.

Thx again. Smoke one for me. :lol:
  • DR01D
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Post 3+ Months Ago

good example, man thats some typin ;-)

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