Layers in Photoshop

Photoshop Tutorial: A Guide to Layers Panel

In this article, you will learn the basics of the Layers Panel and how layers work in Photoshop. From beginner to expert, understanding the use of Layers in Photoshop is equally important.

 What are Layers in Photoshop?

Layers in Photoshop are images, text, or adjustment stacked on top of one another. With the help of Layers Panel in Photoshop you can add new elements to an image without altering the original image. The new elements will be placed on the image but in a new layer. So that while making any alteration the original image did not get affected.

In the above image, you can see the two images are stacked on one another and the alteration done in the top image does not affect the background image.

How to use Layers in Photoshop?

With the help of the Layers Panel, you can create, hide, view, or edit layers. You will find the Layers Panel at the bottom right corner of the screen. Alternatively, you can click on Window in the Menu Bar and select Layers.

Create/ Add a New Layer in Photoshop:

To create or add a new layer in the Layers Panel, click on the Create a New Layer icon. The quickest way to add a new layer is to press Shift + Ctrl + N. This shortcut key will automatically add a new blank layer at the top of the existing layer in the Layers Panel.

Alternatively, you can click on the Layer Panel Menu (four horizontal lines on the top-right corner) and select New Layer. When you will select New Layer from the Menu, a dialogue box will appear on the artboard. You can make the necessary changes in the dialogue box and click OK.

Lock/ Unlock a Layer in Photoshop:

By default, the Background Layer is locked in the Layers Panel and all other layers are unlocked. To unlock the layer, click on the padlock icon which appears on the right side of the layer.

If you want to lock any layer in Photoshop then select that layer and click on the padlock icon which is at the top of the list of the Layers.

Hide/ Unhide a Layer in Photoshop:

You can hide or unhide a Layer in Photoshop by clicking on the eye icon which is at the left side of the layer.

When you will click on the eye icon it will disappear which indicated that the layer is hidden. To make the layer visible again click on the eye icon place and it will appear again.

Duplicate a Layer in Photoshop:

While working in Photoshop, you might sometimes need to duplicate a layer. There are two ways in which you can duplicate a layer. The first one is to select the layer, which you want to copy, and then press and hold the Alt Key along with left-clicking. Now drag the selected Layer above or below and release the Alt key and the left-click. This will create a copy of your selected layer.

Duplicate Layer in Photoshop

Secondly, you can create a Duplicate Layer with the help of the Layer Panel Menu. Click on the Layer Panel Menu and select Duplicate Layer. A dialogue box will appear on the document area in which you can make alterations (if required) and then click OK.

Duplicate Layer in Photoshop
Duplicate Layer in Photoshop
Delete a Layer in Photoshop:

Sometimes there might be layers in your Photoshop document which are not required. You can delete those layers either by selecting Delete Layer from the Layer Panel Menu or by clicking on the bin icon which is at the bottom of the Layers Panel.

Delete a Layer in Photoshop
Delete a Layer in Photoshop
Rename a Layer in Photoshop:

To Rename a Layer in Photoshop, double click on the name of the Layer and it will get selected. Then you can edit the text and rename the layer.

Rename a Layer in Photoshop
Reordering Layers in Photoshop:

The Layers arranged in an order in the Layers Panel determine how your Photoshop Document will look like. Sometimes you may require changing the order of the layers to alter the document. To Reorder a Layer, select the layer and drag it up or down to change its position.

In the below image, you can see a Text layer above the Rectangle layer.

Reordering Layers in Photoshop

Now to move the Text layer below the Rectangle layer, I will first select the Text layer. Then with the left-click, I will drag the Text Layer below the Rectangle Layer and release the click. (See the images below)

Reordering Layers in Photoshop
Reordering Layers in Photoshop
Grouping Layers in Photoshop:

You can create Layer Groups in Photoshop to organize layers in a folder. Layer Groups are folders in which multiple layers are organized together.

To create a new group, select the Layers you want to group and click on the Layer Panel Menu. Then select New Group from Layers and a dialogue box will appear. In that dialogue box, you can give a name to the group and click OK.

Grouping Layers in Photoshop
Grouping Layers in Photoshop

You can also create a new group by selecting the layers and then clicking on the New Group icon in the bottom of the Layer Panel.

Grouping Layers in Photoshop

You can even expand or collapse the Layer Group by clicking on the arrow icon.

Grouping Layers in Photoshop

After grouping the layers, if you wish to add another layer to the created group then select the layer and drag it to the Layer Group. Once you drag the layer to the Group, release the mouse click to add the layer to it.

Linking Layers in Photoshop:

Linking the Layers is a time-saving option in Photoshop. In Photoshop, Linking Layers together means that the alteration made in one layer will automatically apply to another layer.

To link the layers, select the layers and click on the Link icon. You will find the Link icon at the bottom of the Layer Panel. After linking the layers, you will notice a link icon appearing on the right side of the layers.


In the above image, you can see that I have linked the Text Layer and Shape Layer. Now if I only select the Text Layer and using the Move Tool if I move the Text Layer, the Shape Layer will also move along with the Text Layer as both the layers are linked together.

Merging Layers in Photoshop:

Photoshop document with multiple layers slows down the computer performance as the multiple layers increase the file size. So to reduce the file size, you can Merge Layers in Photoshop.

To merge multiple layers in Photoshop, select the layers and press Ctrl + E. You can also click on the Layers Panel Menu icon and then select Merge Shape.

From the Layers Panel Menu, you can also select Merge Visible to merge all the visible layers together.

Flattening Layers in Photoshop:

Flattening Layers in Photoshop also reduces the file size by merging the layers into the background and reject the hidden layers. While flattening the layers all the transparent areas are filled with white.

Before flattening the layers make sure to make all the layers visible. Then to flatten the layers, select Flatten Image from the Layers Panel Menu.

Stamping Layers in Photoshop:

Stamping Layers helps in creating a copy of the layers merged into one layer. To stamp a layer select it and press Ctrl + A + E. The stamped layer will appear as a new layer in the Layers Panel.

In the next article, you will learn what the different types of layers are and how to adjust the layers.

This article will help you understand the working of Layers Panel in Photoshop.

If you find this online Photoshop article useful then share it with others and also, share your views in the comment section.

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