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Adobe Photoshop CS5 : Working with Layers - Converting a Background into a Layer

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4/11/2012 4:57:20 PM
The Background layer serves a unique function in Photoshop. Since some layout programs do not support Photoshop’s multiple layer and transparency capabilities, a final image must sometimes be converted into a background layer by a process called flattening. When an image is flattened, all of the document’s layers are compressed into a single layer in the Layers panel, named Background. That means no more layers, no more transparency, and no more control. Background layers are a necessary evil because Photoshop does not stand alone, and it’s sometimes necessary to move images from Photoshop into other applications. However, there are times you may start with an image that only contains a Background layer (for example, when working with original images from a digital camera, scanned images, or images from a photo CD or DVD) and you want to apply transparency, blending modes, or other adjustments to it that cannot be applied to a Background layer. In that case, you will need to convert the Background into a traditional Photoshop layer.

Convert a Background

Select the Layers panel.

Double-click on the Background to open the New Layer dialog box.

  • You can also click the Layer menu, point to New, and then click Layer From Background.

Rename the layer in the Name box (leave the other options at their default values).

Click OK.

The Background is converted into a traditional layer.

Convert a Multi-Layered Document into a Background

Select the Layers panel.

Click the Layers Options button, and then click Flatten Image.

The multi-layered document is compressed into a single-layer Background.

Did You Know?

You can create a composite image of a multi-layered document without flattening the image. Create and select a new layer, and then hold down the Alt (Win) or Option (Mac) key. Now, go to the Layers panel, click the Layers Options button, and then click Merge Visible. Photoshop creates a composite of all the visible layers in the new layer. You now have the control and flexibility of a multi-layered document, along with a separate composite layer. Control gives you the confidence to be more creative.

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