How do you crop layers in Photoshop?

Photoshop: mirroring, scaling, cropping and much more.

Again and again you will come across breathtaking photos on your social media channels or on public advertising posters - everything is included, from mystical double exposures to black and white pictures with color accents. You have been wondering how these photo effects can be created for a long time, but are still a Photoshop beginner? UPDATED tells you how you, too, can create great pictures in a few simple steps. The ingenious trick used by the design professionals is actually not that difficult, but very simple. The magic word is: levels.

Photoshop layers: important basic functions

A bit of work is required to edit images using Photoshop in a particularly sensational way. With the right know-how, however, it is easier than you think. However, the basic requirement is that you have the Know how to work with levels.

You can think of layers as transparent films that are superimposed in Photoshop. Each slide can be described with different information, for example with shapes, colors or patterns. This structure allows you to work flexibly and creatively. These are the first steps:

Create and position the plane

  1. For your first steps, open any photo in Photoshop as a test. To do this, start the program and click on file > Open. Now select your photo.
  2. Your photo will be set as the background. The layer box at the bottom right of the window shows the photo with a small padlock. That means the level Background cannot be edited. Double click on it to unlock it.
  3. Confirm your entry in the window that pops up. Photoshop then names the layer Level 0.
  4. Now look at the lower taskbar of the level box. Here you will see several symbols, including a blank piece of paper with a small corner folded up. If you move your cursor over this icon, you will read Create a new layer. Click it to place a new, blank layer over your background.
  5. If you now fill this with content - for example paint a pattern with a brush - the change can initially be seen on your entire picture.
  6. Click on the painted layer in your layer box and hold down your left mouse button. Now drag and drop the layer below Level 0.
  7. The pattern then disappears. This is because your background layer is now on top of and obscuring your painted layer. If you drag the painted layer back over the background in the same way, you will see it again. In this way you can position layers and specifically incorporate effects such as double exposure.

“Color Splash” - black and white with color, please!

Black and white photos with color accents - big effect with little effort.

If you surf the Internet or on social media frequently, you will see them again and again: black and white photos with colored accents. No wonder, because the effect is great, but the work is extremely small:

  1. Load a color photo into Photoshop.
  2. Use the black and white filter to put a monochrome layer on top.
    Tip: How to work with this effect exactly is explained in the guide Working in monochrome in Photoshop: Creating black and white images.
  3. Now select the in the toolbox Eraser out. Adjust it to the right size and keep it as soft as possible.
  4. Now erase the areas in the black and white layer that should appear in color. This will make the colors of your background visible. This creates an eye-catching photo without much effort.

Scale or crop the layer

Thanks to the layer structure, you can superimpose as many slides as you want. Photoshop theoretically processes over 500 layers - enough space for your creativity. However, some layers are not automatically the correct size for your image. For example, if you work with a photo with the dimensions 1,300 x 700 pixels and add a new photo as a layer that is 1,600 x 900 pixels in size, you will only a small part of this level is displayed. The rest is over the edge and is therefore automatically “cut off”. With a few simple steps you can scale the new layer to your photo in no time:

  1. In the layer box, select the layer that you want to scale.
  2. Now press the shortcut on your keyboard ctrl + T. As a Mac user, this will help you cmd + T further.
  3. You can now scale the selected layer, i.e. make it smaller or larger. To do this, move your cursor to one of the displayed corners of the plane. Press the Shift key on your keyboard and drag the picture smaller or larger with your mouse.
  4. If you move your mouse to the left, the picture gets bigger. If you drag it to the right, the level shrinks.
    Note: The Shift key is especially important if you want your layer to maintain its proportions. If you edit the size of the layer without the Shift key, you will distort the shape of the images on the layer. The result often looks unnaturally stretched or compressed - especially when objects can be seen in the photo.
  5. When the level has reached the size you want, press the Enter key on your keyboard. You confirm the change and the level can still be edited.

Tilt, distort, bend planes

If you want to tilt, distort or bend the level in a targeted manner, select it by clicking on it in the level box and go to the upper taskbar of your window Edit > Transform. In the opened submenu you can select the respective command. The scaling only processes the height and width, but does not perform any other effects.

Crop layers

Do you not only want to scale a single layer, but also crop it - for example if you only part of the inserted layer on the overall photo - this works with the following trick:

  1. Click on the toolbar Selection-Tool on. Draw a surface over the part of the layer that you want to appear on your picture. This is now framed by a flashing light.
  2. Go to Selection > Invert selection. The area of ​​the level that you want to delete is now marked.
  3. Now press your backspace key. The unwanted part of the plane is thus cut away and deleted.

Note: Would you rather like that delete entire level, mark the level in the level box and press the backspace key on your keyboard.

With the numerous transform options you can edit your layer to your heart's content.

Mirror or rotate the plane

If you don't like the orientation of a layer, you can rotate or mirror it with just a few clicks. To do a rotation, do the following:

  1. Select the appropriate level in the level box by clicking on it with your cursor.
  2. Press now ctrl + T, or. cmd + T as a Mac user.
  3. Move your mouse just over a corner of the level. You will then see a round double arrow. This shows you that you can grab and rotate the plane at this point.
  4. Hold yours ctrl- or. cntrlKey pressed to rotate the plane at an exact angle. Photoshop uses this key command in 0.1 degree steps.
  5. Confirm your result with Enter, say the Enter key.

The easiest way to achieve a mirroring, on the other hand, is to use a menu command. Just go to it Edit > Transform and choose between Flip horizontally or Flip vertically.

Example Double Exposure: This is how the sophisticated effect is created

The basic functions of the levels are now clear to you. However, thanks to this structure, very easy very artistic effects incorporate into your photos. With the right know-how, you can manage processing methods that appear complex, such as double exposure.

The double exposure - in English “double exposure” - was created with analog camera models when the photographer forgot to continue shooting the film after taking a picture. So he wrote two different image information on the film. In times of digital photography, this effect can be created with Photoshop. The following instructions explain how:

  1. For the double exposure, select two photos that you would like to superimpose.
    Tip: For starters, it makes sense to choose a photo that shows a person in side profile. Ideally, you combine a photo with a striking landscape scene. With this interaction, you can easily take breathtaking shots.
  2. First open the photo with the portrait of a person. Now you cut it out in such a way that the profile is separated from the background, that is to say is “cropped”. How to do this is explained in the guide How to crop images in Photoshop: step-by-step instructions.
  3. Once you have cut out the image, you create a new layer, fill it completely white (the fastest way to do this is with the Filling tool) and drag it under your cut-out image.
  4. Name this level Backgroundto maintain orientation.
  5. Now load the landscape photo into Photoshop. You can do this by dragging and dropping it into your open image. Put the new layer over the background and the cropped portrait.
    You can now see in the editing window just the photo of your landscape. In the layer box at the bottom right you can see the arrangement of the various images.
  1. Now click with your cursor in the small preview image of the portrait. Keep yours ctrl- or. cmdButton pressed. You can now see the outline of your person with a flashing border.
  2. Click on the thumbnail of your landscape and then go to the rectangular symbol with the small dark point in the middle. You can find this in the lower taskbar of the layer box.
  3. Here's how to create a Layer mask. You will now see a silhouette of the portrait next to the preview image of the landscape.
If you've done everything right, you'll already see the first effect of the double exposure.

Optional: Click on the icon between the preview image and the mask to break the link. Now go to Edit > Transform freely and adjust the landscape photo as you like until it has reached your preferred position.

  1. Now copy the layer with the cropped portrait. To do this, you can either click on it and place the cursor on the icon for Create a new layer drag or right click with the mouse Duplicate layer choose.
  2. Drag the copied portrait layer all the way up. Go after that picture > Customize > Saturation and desaturate them completely. It is now black and white.
  3. Look back into your layer box. Here you can see a small window for the exposure mode. You can tell by the fact that you Normal can read. Click on it and choose Multiply out.
From now on only fine adjustments are necessary.
  1. Finally, you can blur the top layer a little. To do this, click next to the window for the exposure modes Opacity. Drag the bar a little to the left to gradually fade the image. This creates a particularly mystical effect.

Optional: If the landscape level is very extravagant in color - as in the example aquamarine - you can do it gradually eraseto see more of the portrait. To do this, click on the preview image of the landscape, select the Eraser and put it on 0% hardness. Choose a large eraser to remove the bright color from large areas of the face.

  1. If you are satisfied with the result, save your photo via file > Save as > and choose as file type JPG or PNG out.
The double exposure ensures spectacular shots.

Ensure great effects

Working with layers is an absolute must in Photoshop. What seems difficult at first, but with a little practice, quickly becomes a routine. Thanks to the transparent foils, special effects can be achieved that enhance every photo album and every Instagram feed in no time - much easier than expected.

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