Although Adobe Photoshop can be mind-numbingly complex, one feature that has improved dramatically over the years is Layers. Using the Layers palette, you can do many things that used to take incredibly complicated procedures in earlier versions. If the Layers palette isn’t showing, choose Window|Layers.
Whether you realize it or not, any time you select part of an image, cut or copy it, and then paste it, the section lands as a new layer. So if you do a lot of combining of images, you can end up with a whole lot of layers. Figuring out what part of your image is on which layer can be sort of dicey just by looking at the Layers palette. The first thing to do is to name your layers. I mean, let’s face it, if you have two or three layers, the default Layer 1 and Layer 2 is fine, but after a point, you really should take the time to give your layers descriptive names so you don’t go insane. Just double-click on the layer name in the palette. The name is highlighted and editable, so you can type in a new one.
Even with decent names, it can still sometimes be tricky to figure out what layer something is on. To find out, click the Move tool and place your mouse over the item. Hold down the Ctrl key and click. The layer is highlighted in the palette.
The Layers palette also gives you access to Layer effects. These days, it’s easy to add effects like drop shadows. Just select the layer and click the little “F” icon at the bottom of the palette and select an effect. You can tweak the effect to your heart’s content in the Layer Style dialog box.
After you’ve carefully crafted your effects, maybe you want to share the joy with other layers. You can do it in two ways. If you have multiple effects you want to copy, select the layer that has the effects. Right-click and choose Copy Layer Style. Now select the target layer, right click, and choose Paste Layer Style.
If you only want to copy one effect, you can just drag the layer effect name from one layer to another. The effect is then duplicated. It’s a lot easier than going in and trying to remember all your carefully crafted settings.