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Adobe Photoshop CS3

Advanced Layer Options

Although layers are constructed individually, it is helpful to rearrange and link layers when creating more advanced images. After you have fully experimented with the layers in your image, you can merge and flatten layers so that they function collaboratively. For introductory information on layers, see Layer Basics. For information on working with layers, see Working with Layers. This document contains information on the following:

Return to topRearranging Layers

Layers are arranged within the Layers palette with the topmost layer on the Layers palette being the topmost layer of the image.

Since objects in an image often overlap, changing the stacking order of layers will change the appearance of your overall image. Rearranging layers can reveal and hide visible shapes.

NOTE: The Background layer cannot be moved.
Layers Palette

Rearranging Layers: Drag-and-Drop Option

  1. From the Layers palette, select the layer you wish to move

  2. Click and drag the layer to the desired position

  3. Release the layer
    The layer is now in the new position.

Rearranging Layers: Menu Option

  1. From the Layers palette, select the layer you wish to move

  2. From the Layer menu, select Arrange » desired option
    You layer is moved accordingly.
    Layer arrangement options

Rearranging Layers: Keyboard Option

  1. From the Layers palette, select the layer you wish to move

  2. Press the keyboard command for the desired option
    The layer moves to the selected position. Confirm the new layer placement by checking the layer position on the Layers palette.



Keyboard Command

Bring to Front Sends layer to topmost position [Shift] + [Ctrl] + ]
Bring Forward Sends layer up one position [Ctrl] + ]
Send Backward Sends layer down one position [Ctrl] + [
Send to Back Sends layer to bottommost position [Shift] + [Ctrl] + [

Return to topLinking Layers

If you want multiple layers to move as a single unit within the image window, you should link them. You must link a minimum of two layers, but there is no limit to the number of layers that can be linked together. Layers do not need to be contiguous in order to be linked. All layers will retain their individual characteristics. Linking and unlinking layers can happen repeatedly throughout the creation of an image.
Linking Layers

  1. On the Layers palette, press [Ctrl] + select the layer(s) you want to link

  2. From the Layer palette, click LINK LAYERSLink Layers button
    A LINK iconLink Layers buttonappears next to layer names, indicating that the layers are linked.

Moving Linked Layers in an Image

  1. From the Layers palette, select the linked layer you want to move

  2. From the Toolbox, select the Move ToolMove Tool

  3. Within the image window, click and drag to the new location
    NOTE: The layers move in unison while maintaining their distance relationships to each other.

Unlinking Layers

  1. From the Layers palette, select the layer you want to unlink

  2. From the Layers palette, select LINK LAYERSLink Layers button
    The LINK icon disappears and the layer is no longer linked.

Return to topMerging Layers

Merging layers fuses layers together so they no longer function individually. Images saved with individual layers occupy a lot of file space; merging layers compresses your image so it takes up less file space. Additionally, if you want to apply an effect to your entire picture at once, you will need to merge layers; otherwise, the effect will only be added to one layer at a time. For example, if you had a composite picture made up of many layers and you wanted to create a mosaic of the entire thing using a filter (not just one layer), you would need to merge the layers and apply the effect to the entire picture. In Photoshop, you can merge linked layers, visible layers, or merge down. To merge all layers into one, you can also flatten the image.

Merging Linked Layers

Merging linked layers allows you to determine which layers will be merged into one layer and which will remain independent. Layers that are linked will combine into one layer, while those that are not linked will remain independent.

  1. From the Layer menu, select Select Linked Layers

  2. From the Layer menu, select Merge Layers
    Press [Ctrl] + [E]
    The selected linked layers combine to form a single layer.

Merging Visible Layers

You can also merge visible layers. Visible layers are identified by the VISIBILITY iconVisible Layer Indicator, which appears in the left column of the Layers palette. You can toggle between visible and hidden by clicking the icon in the Visible Layer column. For more information on hiding layers, see Hiding/Displaying Layers.
Layers palette (visibility annotated)

  1. On the Layers palette, hide the layers you do not wish to merge (including the background if you do not wish to merge it)

  2. Select one of the remaining visible layers

  3. From the Layer menu, select Merge Visible
    Press [Shift] + [Ctrl] + [E]
    All of the visible layers on the Layers palette are merged into a single layer. The hidden layers are preserved as independent layers.

Merging Down

Even if you do not have any layers linked, you can combine two contiguous layers on the Layers palette.

  1. Select the topmost layer of the two layers you wish to merge

  2. From the Layer menu, select Merge Down
    Press [Ctrl] + [E]
    The selected layer merges with the layer immediately below it on the Layers palette.

Return to topFlattening Layers

Although flattening layers will compress your image so that it takes up less file space, it is different from merging in that it discards hidden layers, combines visible layers into a single layer, and removes transparent areas from an image.

  1. Make sure that all the layers you wish to flatten are visible on the Layers palette

  2. From the Layer menu, select Flatten Image
    If there are hidden layers in the image, a dialog box appears confirming your request to discard hidden layers.

  3. Click OK
    The visible layers are now flattened and hidden layers have been discarded.

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