PixelPerfect #116: Using Photoshop Layers

Posted in Graphics, Podcasts on March 18, 2009

Save time and make modifications easy by labeling, grouping and duplicating layer groups. Bert demonstrates with multiple hotel room scenes.

Re-use layers to create different scenes and moods
Bert uses a hotel building with multiple rooms to demonstrate the effectiveness of using layers in a Photoshop file. All of the rooms derive from a single scene with individually labeled lamps, chairs, beds and more in separate layers. All the elements that belong to a room are put into a group, which can be duplicated and modified instead of being re-drawn.

Apply and change lighting
Lighting will vary from room to room, most noticeable on wall and ceiling layers. Radial gradients create lighting effects. To change the lighting in a duplicated room, simply move the gradient to the desired area of the room's ceiling and wall layers. Modifying the brightness of the lamp shade, light bulb, and light pole layers also contribute to the effect.

Changing shadow directions
Make sure to turn off "Use Global Light" to change drop shadows individually for each element. If left on, your shadows will move in all places of your Photoshop file.

Add curtains
In a new layer, create multiple shapes of curtains. Fill with white, then duplicate to make 3 separate curtain layers. Varying opacities and shades between the three layers make the curtains look realistic.

Using masks
Use layer masks for elements that will filled with different patterns, such as a bed. With a mask, the shape stays in place and patterns can be applied easily, varying from room to room.

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Tags: Photoshop, Design, layers, Revision3, PixelPerfect, Lesson