In Photoshop you can use the Align and Distribute options to easily line up and properly space your image layers, used frequently for creating panoramic images.
You can align the content of layers and groups using the Move tool . (See Move the content of layers.)
To align multiple layers, select the layers with the Move tool or in the Layers panel, or select a group.
To align the content of one or more layers to a selection border, make a selection in the image, and then select the layers in the Layers panel. Use this method to align to any specified point in the image.
Aligns the top pixel on the selected layers to the topmost pixel on all selected layers, or to the top edge of the selection border.
Aligns the vertical center pixel on each selected layers to the vertical center pixel of all the selected layers, or to the vertical center of the selection border.
Aligns the bottom pixel on the selected layers to the bottommost pixel on selected layers, or to the bottom edge of the selection border.
Aligns the left pixel on the selected layers to the left pixel on the leftmost layer, or to the left edge of the selection border.
Aligns the horizontal center pixel on the selected layers to the horizontal center pixel of all the selected layers, or to the horizontal center of the selection border.
Aligns the right pixel on the linked layers to the rightmost pixel on all selected layers, or to the right edge of the selection border.
Updated in the October 2018 release of Photoshop CC (version 20.0)
Choose Layer > Distribute and choose a command. Alternatively, select the Move tool and click a distribution button in the options bar.
Spaces the layers evenly, starting from the top pixel of each layer.
Spaces the layers evenly, starting from the vertical center pixel of each layer.
Spaces the layers evenly, starting from the bottom pixel of each layer.
Spaces the layers evenly, starting from the left pixel of each layer.
Spaces the layers evenly, starting from the horizontal center of each layer.
Spaces the layers evenly, starting from the right pixel on each layer.
Distributes horizontal spacing between the layers evenly.
Distributes vertical spacing between the layers evenly.
The Auto-Align Layers command can automatically align layers based on similar content in different layers, such as corners and edges. You assign one layer as a reference layer, or let Photoshop automatically choose the reference layer. Other layers are aligned to the reference layer so that matching content overlays itself.
Using the Auto-Align Layers command, you can combine images in several ways:
Replace or delete parts of images that have the same background. After aligning the images, use masking or blending effects to combine parts of each image into one image.
Stitch images together that share overlapping content.
For video frames shot against a static background, you can convert frames into layers, then add or delete content across multiple frames.
An adjustment layer applies color and tonal adjustments to your image without permanently changing pixel values. For example, rather than making a Levels or Curves adjustment directly to your image, you can create a Levels or Curves adjustment layer. The color and tonal adjustments are stored in the adjustment layer and apply to all the layers below it; you can correct multiple layers by making a single adjustment, rather than adjusting each layer separately. You can discard your changes and restore the original image at any time.
Fill layers let you fill a layer with a solid color, a gradient, or a pattern. Unlike adjustment layers, fill layers do not affect the layers underneath them.
Adjustment layers provide the following advantages:
Nondestructive edits. You can try different settings and re‑edit the adjustment layer at any time. You can also reduce the effect of the adjustment by lowering the opacity of the layer.
Selective editing. Paint on the adjustment layer’s image mask to apply an adjustment to part of an image. Later you can control which parts of the image are adjusted by re-editing the layer mask. You can vary the adjustment by painting on the mask with different tones of gray.
Ability to apply adjustments to multiple images. Copy and paste adjustment layers between images to apply the same color and tonal adjustments.
Adjustment layers have many of the same characteristics as other layers. You can adjust their opacity and blending mode, and you can group them to apply the adjustment to specific layers. Likewise, you can turn their visibility on and off to apply or preview the effect.
Original (left); adjustment layer applied to barn only (center), which brings out detail in the barn; and adjustment layer applied to entire image (right), which lightens the entire image and pixelates the clouds
Because adjustment layers contain adjustment data rather than pixels, they increase file size far less than standard pixel layers. If you are working with an unusually large file, however, you may want to reduce file size by merging adjustment layers into pixel layers.
Adjustment and fill layers have the same opacity and blending mode options as image layers. You can rearrange, delete, hide, and duplicate them just as you do image layers.
Adjustment and fill layers
A. Adjustment layer confined to "Log home" layer only B. Layer thumbnail C. Fill layer D. Layer mask
Layers are a basic feature in Photoshop. Unless you’ve actually used the app, or something similar, you don’t really appreciate layers for what they do. In a more advanced app like Photoshop, a single layer can form a complex part of the final image. Of course, you can have multiple layers in a single Photoshop file. You can merge them into one, duplicate them, link them, etc. The final image can be saved as a PNG or JPG. What you might not know is that you can also export all layers in a Photoshop file as images. You can do this in bulk for a given file.
The export option lets you export all layers in a Photoshop file regardless if they are hidden or visible. It also gives you the option to export only the visible files. You can select which format you export the layers to. You can export each layer to individual PSD files of their own or export them as JPG, PDF, PNG, BMP, and TIFF files
Open the Photoshop file you want to export layers from. Go to File>Export>Layers to file.
A small window will open. Here you can select the file format the layers are exported to. More importantly, you can select where to save them which is just as important. You don’t want to suddenly dump over 50 layers worth of files on your desktop.
Click the ‘Browse’ button and select the folder you want to export the layers to. You can add a prefix to the file name. By default, Photoshop uses the name of the file that you have open. You can however change it to something else if you want.
If you only want to export the visible layers, check the ‘Visible Layers Only’ option under the prefix box.
Open the File Type dropdown and select which format you want to export all layers in the file to. In some cases, e.g., if you select JPEG, you can select the image quality.
The export process can take time. If your system is old, or doesn’t have a lot of RAM, it will take longer. Photoshop will open every single layer in a new file and then export it.
We tested this out on a system running on an SSD with 8GB RAM. The Photoshop file in question had 105 layers in it. It took about 2-3 minutes to export them all. You cannot selectively pick layers to export however you can choose to export all of them, or just the visible ones. You can hide the layers you don’t want to export and then export only the visible ones. That’s the only way to be selective about layers when you export them.
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Harry Guinness is a photography expert and writer with nearly a decade of experience. His work has been published in newspapers like The New York Times and on a variety of other websites, from Lifehacker to Popular Science and Medium’s OneZero. Read more.
Photoshop is an incredibly flexible program. To keep the interface flexible, Photoshop uses “Panels” for each tool or feature.
For example, here’s how I have Photoshop set up. Everything on the right hand side is a different Panel. There are a couple of near-universal panels that you will need to use every time you use Photoshop, like the Layers panel. In every one of my Photoshop tutorials for How-To Geek, like how to add falling snow to your photos, I’ve told you to do something with it. But what happens if you can’t find it?
Since Photoshop’s interface is so customizable, it’s very easy to accidentally close or misplace an important panel like the Layers Panel. If you can’t see it, all you have to do is go to the Window menu. All the panels that you currently have on display are marked with a tick. To reveal the Layers Panel, click Layers.
And just like that, the Layers Panel will appear, ready for you to use it.
It’s the exact same with any other Panel in Photoshop. If you’re ever following a tutorial and you’re told to go to the Channels Panel or Path Panel, if you don’t know where it is, just open the Window menu and select it.
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Harry Guinness is a photography expert and writer with nearly a decade of experience. His work has been published in newspapers like The New York Times and on a variety of other websites, from Lifehacker to Popular Science and Medium’s OneZero.
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