Back to Basics: Photoshop Layers 101 What you need to know to start working with layers in Photoshop

In this video, Colin Smith from PhotoshopCAFE gets back to some of the most basic features of Adobe Photoshop – layers. He explains what are layers, how to use them, and gives some useful tips.

First some clarification. Although this video has no photography in it (Smith uses a number of layered graphics) the same idea can apply to images, text, and every other graphical element that you might want to use in Photoshop (even videos).

The best way to think about layers is to consider a stack of glass plates with pictures/text etc. on each other. You can change their order, add or remove plates, move them around and manipulate them in many ways. Layers in Photoshop are very much like that but you can do so much more (like change opacity or copy elements which will be harder to do in the physical world).

In the video Smith talks about how to make layers visible or hide layers, select layers, how to lock and unlock layers, how to re-arrange layers, duplicate or erase layers, change opacity for layers, or use blending modes (more on this here) and more.

One big tip that we can give is that if you are going to work a lot with Photoshop you really need to use shortcut keys – it saves so much time. For us, the best way to save time in Photoshop (as well as many other programs) is to use Stream Deck (see our review here) and map specific shortcut keys and actions (including things like creating a new layer or duplicating a layer but also flatten and marge layers and even marge down all layers which can be super useful at times).

You can find many more Photoshop video tutorials on LensVid’s Photoshop section. You can find more PhotoshopCAFE videos here on LensVid.

Iddo Genuth
Iddo Genuth is the founder and chief editor of He has been a technology reporter working for international publications since the late 1990's and covering photography since 2009. Iddo is also a co-founder of a production company specializing in commercial food and product visual content.

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