By the request of a few new PSP'keteers, I will be putting out a few short tutorials from time to time to help those interested get the most out of their software.   I will send out these tutorials in HTML format so that I can embed images to help the tutorial.  If you cannot receive HTML, please let me know.  I will post it in my web space, as well as send a plain text version.  If you do not wish to receive this, just let me know.  No hard feelings as I realize that it may not be of interest to you.  Comments and questions, as always, are welcome.

Lesson 1 -  LAYERS

   Before we jump into the nuts and bolts on the use of layers, let's first get an understanding of what a layer is, and how they can be of use to us.  Probably the best real-world analogy to a layer is a set of transparencies.  If you were to stack these several sheets of clear film on top of one another, you can see right though all of them.  Now, let's draw a few objects on each of the transparencies.  Once again, if you line them up, you can see straight through where there is nothing drawn.   Elsewhere, you see the drawn objects and, where the objects overlap, you can only see the top most object.  Layers in PSP can be decribed using transparent film, but there's lots more you can do aside from just stacking the transparencies right on top of one another.

   In PSP, there are four main types of layers.   The first is the Background raster layer.   Every image has this layer.   Consider it, if you will, a sheet of cardboard to lay your pieces of transparent film on top of for support.  The background layer can have images on it, and if you open up a photographic image, it will be by default on this background raster layer.  The other three main types of layers are raster layers, vector layers, and adjustment layers.   A raster layer can be best described as the transparency that you can draw on with a marking pen.  In a raster layer you can color and manipulate pixels, but it is treated as one sheet of colored areas.   A vector layer could be best analogized as taping  construction paper cutouts onto the sheet of film.   Each object retains its shape and individual features, and later stretched and moved around the film if needed.  The downside is that you cannot smudge, soften or smear the objects in vector form. Adjustment layers are like having a colored transparency that you can lay over the top of the layers below.   If you have a green transparency, the layers below will take on a green hue.  There are nine types of adjustment layers that allow you to brighten, alter color, or perform other effects.

   Okay, so where do we find these layers?  Well, the folks over at JASC figured that layers were important enough to put a whole pulldown menu item at the top.  From here, some of the things we can do is create blank new layers, delete layers, merge layers together, switch between layers, even promote a selection of one layer to its own layer.  While this menu is nice, there is also a layers toolbar that will prove even more handy for working with layers.  It should be on your default toolbar, if it isn't, you can add it in through the toolbar customization.  The icon that you will be looking for looks like this: .   When you depress it, it will reveal a toolbox similar to this:

   In this toolbox (in this case called a palette), you have a complete overview of all of the layers in your image, what type they are, their order and so on.   The active layer, or in otherwords the layer that you are currently working on is the highlighted layer.  The glasses indicate whether the layer is currently viewable. This is a handy way to hide a layer if it might be in the way while working on one of the layers below.  To the right, you have a slide to adjust the opacity of each layer.  Say for instance you would like the layer beneath to show through a little, by adjusting the opacity of the layer above to 50%, you will make that layer sort of a ghost image, allowing the layers beneath to show through 50%.  The  next dropdown box determines  how the layer will be added to the overall image.  Nearly all of the time you will use the normal mode.   For that reason, we will not discuss the other modes in this tutorial.  And finally,  you have a lock symbol.  You can lock a layer to prevent global changes (changes to all of the layers in one command) to the image from affecting that particular layer.

Now let's proceed with some examples.

Using a vector layer

   Vector layers are nice if you are laying out sections of text or creating a technical drawing.   You can setup your objects and easily move them around later.  In this example, we are going to put some text onto an image.  The image in this example is located on the background raster layer.   To create the text, we go and open the text dialog box.   You will note on the bottom of the box a set of radio buttons.   Be sure to select the button, create as vector:

   Now, once you click OK, you will have your text in your vector layer (or a new vector layer if you did not  start out in an active vector layer).   It will appear on our image like this:

   You will notice that there is an outlined box and handles surrounding the text.   These handles will allow you to move,  rotate or stretch the text.   Additionally, if you click on the text itself, you can go back and edit the text.  One item worth noting at this point, if you deselect the text (i.e. make the surrounding box disappear), you will need to re-select it using the Object Selector Tool, which looks like this:     With the object selector, you can edit some of the more fundamental settings of the object, but you will need to go back to the text tool if you want to edit the text.

   Let's say, for example, you want to make the text, red.   Select the text object with the Object selector tool, then go back to the text tool and click on the text.  The text tool dialog box should open.  There, you can change the fill color on the left side to red, then click OK.   Voila, the text will now appear red.

Now, let's have a little fun with demonstrating the use of raster layers.

Using raster layers

   Raster layers are "Evil" Ray's layer  type of choice for doing his photographic manipulation.   With it, he can put one picture on top of another, or even sandwich it in between several images.   For this example, we will put a fellow, who we will call "Paul", onto the front platform of a locomotive.  Below are the two main images that will be used.   We have the locomotive, and a cut-out of Paul.   Paul have been ripped from his previous surroundings and put onto a layer by himself.   The surroundings were deleted using the selection tool and the eraser brush.   The checkerboard pattern indicates the transparent area of the layer since there is no image currently visible behind his layer.

  Okay, so we go to the image of Paul, and we do a copy.   Then we go to the image of the locomotive, and we simply do a Edit>>Paste>>As new layer (CTRL-L).  From there, we simply position Paul into location using the mover tool.   For reference, our image and layer palette should look something like this:

Okay were all d---, #@$%&* HE'S STANDING IN FRONT  OF THE RAILING!!!   This isn't right.   What do we do???  

  Simple, we need to bring the railings in front of Paul using another layer containing the railings.   The easiest way to do this is to promote a selection of the locomotive and put it into its own layer.  

  First, let's hide Paul for a moment.  We do this by clicking on the eyeglasses next to his layer in the layer palette.  Next we click on the background layer to make it active.  Now we are working with the image of the locomotive.   Using the selection tool, we will select a portion of the image that we will want in front of  Paul:

Now, we go to Selections>> Promote to layer.   Upon doing so, our layer palette will look like this:

  You can see we have new raster layer containing the selection we just promoted.   It is however, underneath the Paul layer.   We need to get it in front of that layer.   To do so, we simply click on that layer name in the palette and drag up over the top of the Paul layer.    Now, if we  turn off the background, we will see only the promoted selection layer (the other two layers are turned off).   By selecting the eraser tool brush, we can delete the portions of the promoted selection that were not supposed to be promoted, such as the hood.   Below, the left corner is starting to be removed with the eraser brush:

When we are finished, the remaining promoted section will look something like this:

Now, we are ready to turn back on the other layers, and lo and behold, the railing is now in front of Paul!

And that's how you can do some simple digital image superimposition.

  Now for some of the technicalities, in case you're interested.   First of all, if you want to save all of your layers and retain them as separate layers for future use, you must save the image in Paint Shop Pro (.psp) format.  JPEG format does not have provisions for retaining layers.   Saving as a JPEG will merge (flatten) all of the visible layers.   So, your first save should always be in PSP file format.  From there, you can do a  Save As or Export for file type of your preference.

  The Background layer is indeed the background layer.   Nothing can be put behind it.   Therefore, if you want to move the background layer up so that you can put a layer behind it, you need to duplicate the layer.  You can duplicate the layer by right clicking on the background layer in the layer palette and selecting Duplicate...  PSP will create a duplicate layer, only that it will be an ordinary raster layer whose display order can be changed.   If you so desire, the background layer can be hidden, but this is not necessary in most cases.

  If desired, you can merge several layers into one layer.   There are two merge options.   Merge all will merge all of the layers in your image into one layer.   Merge visible will only merge those layers which are visible (the eyeglasses are not crossed out in the layer palette).

After this tutorial, you should have a very basic understanding on how layers work, and hopefully how they can be of use to you.  They are the fundamental tool for smart and advanced photo manipulation, as well as providing ease of use with creating drawings and superimposing text.   Until next time, I wish you all the best and happy manipulating.

-"Evil"  Ray

©2003 Ray Meyer