Pearls from Phoenix Rising Intermediate PSP Class

Celebrate the Fall Equinox

An Exercise in Layers


The purpose of this exercise is to brush up on working with layers. We will put several tubes together, each on its own layer, rearrange them, and play with the effects. The end result will be a lovely graphic celebrating the Fall Equinox.

This may seem extremely simple, but I want to be sure we are all ready for next week's exercise, when we practice the difference between raster layers and vector layers -- by drawing a cartoon! :-)

Celebrate the Fall Equinox

Your end result will be something like this -- with your own personal touch! :-)


All the tubes I used for the figures, the leaves, the streamers and stars, even the background and frame, are in a zip file you can download here. They will also be uploaded to the Yahoo Groups page.

Using these particular files is optional. They are provided for your convenience. If you have other tubes you would like to use, please do.

Working with Layers

Working in layers is like working with transparent sheets of acetate stacked on top of one another. You can shuffle them and arrange them to an infinite extent. One small tool can create great effects!

Once upon a time, in the era when we all had to walk to school twenty miles through the snow, you couldn't make graphics in layers. You did all your work on one layer, and when you drew a line, you'd better be absolutely certain where you wanted it, or you'd have a lot of erasing and recoloring to do! (Undo was limited, too. That was 20 miles of snow uphill.)

With layers, you can draw a line on a layer and move that layer around until you decide where you want the line to go, rotating and resizing it along the way. Then you can change your mind.

Creating Your Layers

The file unzips into a tut1.folder. If you select File/Browse you can see all the items in this folder at once.

File Browse

Select frame.psp and open either by double-clicking it, or by pressing the keyboard keys "CTRL+O", or by selecting the menu option File/Open.

Select frame.psp

You might want to save your image now under a different name, so that you can go back to frame.psp whenever you want to use it in its original state. You can do this by pressing F12, or by the menu option File/Save As.

Save often! Save in "Paint Shop Pro Image" format (the default).

Pause: You can create a different background and frame for your graphic. I provided these simply so that we could focus the lesson on layers, instead of getting into creating frames and using gradients. End pause.

Your image might have opened looking small. The title bar of the image might say something like frame.* [1:2]. That means it is displaying the image half/size. I like to expand the view to at least full size, to make it easier to work with. When working with multiple images, make sure they are all at the same View size, or you might be surprised by results. You might paste what seems to be tiny into what seems to be large and have it cover everything else. :-)

Change view size

Go Back to the Browse window and select what you want to be your central figure. I chose the angel with the harp.

Select All, either by pressing the keys CTRL+A, or by the menu option Selections/Select All. You get the "line of marching ants" marquee around the edge of the image.

Select All

Copy, either by pressing CTRL+C, or by the menu option Edit/Copy.

Activate your framed image, either by clicking on any exposed part of the window, or selecting it from the Window options in the PSP menu.

This image contains two layers, named Background and Frame. Take a look at the Layer Options pallette and make sure you have the Background layer active. (Isn't it cool how the contents of the layer show up when your mouse hovers over it in the layer palette? That is extremely helpful when your layers are just named Layer 1, Layer 2...)

Paste what you have copied as New Layer, either by pressing CTRL+L, or by the menu option Edit/Paste/Paste as New Layer.

Paste as new layer

You now have Layer 2. If it makes it easier for you to keep track of what layer is what, you can click Layer/Properties and rename Layer 2 to Center Angel, or another name you prefer.

You might want to resize the figure so that you have more room for everything else. :-) Select Resize from the Image menu. (You can also press Shift+S).

Resize Command

I chose to resize my central angel to 75%. Be sure to click the box that says "Resize all layers" OFF!

Resize Options

Your angel (or whatever image you used) pasted into the center of the layer. Now move her to wherever you want her. I moved her a little off-center, down and to the left. (With layers, you can always change your mind later!)

Open each figure, Select All; Copy; go back to your working image, and Paste as New Layer.

You can select individual leaves, confetti and streamers by drawing a marquee around them; then Copy, activate the working image, and Paste as new layer.

Moving Items & Layers

Always make sure you have the top layer selected before you Paste as new layer. This will make the new layer the top layer. Each item you Paste appears in the dead center of the layer. You have to move it to your preferred location. It is easiest to move items when they are on the top layer. After you have the item where you want it, then move the layer where you would like it to be in relation to the other images.

Move the Image firstMove the Layer next
Moving the new angel Moving the new angel's layer

Move Layer ToolYou can move items in two ways. The Move tool (the four arms with arrows) moves the entire layer. This seems workable, since you have only one item per layer. However, PSP 7 is so helpful, that whenever your Move tool clicks on an image, the layer that image is in becomes active, and that is the layer that moves with the tool. This can be disconcerting when you meant to move something else!

Marquee toolsA more controlled way of moving an item is to use the Marquee tool (either the square or the "Lassoo") to draw the "marching ants" around it. (Make sure you have the layer you want selected first!) Then move your cursor over the area bounded by the marching ants and it changes into a move tool cursor! You can then move the specific item you selected at will, until you click the surface again, which is the same as saying "Select None".

Arranging Layers

Once you have all the individual items that you want included in your graphic pasted into their own layers, play awhile with moving them in front of or behind each other until you like the arrangement.

Next Page for Layer Effects & Text

Send any comments or questions to Anitra, GL Phoenix Rising Intermediate PSP

Created by Anitra L. Freeman, © Phoenix Rising September 22, 2002
May not be copied without permission.

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