A Fantastic Photoshop Shortcut: Opacity Keys

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And even after you’ve spent countless hours learning the ins and outs, surprising new shortcuts are a pleasure to discover. A few years back, I attended a seminar from a successful musician portrait photographer. As that presentation proceeded, the presenter switched from his approach to photographing portraits out in the field to sharing his post-production process.
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Photoshop: Why does the delete key bring up the Fill dialog in Photoshop CS5, CS6?

From creating, copying and selecting layers to blend modes, clipping masks and more, learn how to speed up your Photoshop workflow with these essential layers shortcuts! Written by Steve Patterson. When it comes to getting the most out of Photoshop with the least amount of effort, there are two things we absolutely need to know—how to use layers, and how to use keyboard shortcuts.

Layers keep our work flexible, while keyboard shortcuts help us complete our goals as quickly as possible. In this tutorial, I’ve combined the two and rounded up Photoshop’s essential keyboard shortcuts for working with layers! Learning these powerful shortcuts will increase your productivity, and they’ll boost your confidence as you take a giant leap forward on the road to Photoshop mastery! If you’re using Photoshop CS5 or earlier, you’ll want to check out the original version of this tutorial.

Let’s get started! Download our Photoshop tutorials as PDFs! And get exclusive bonus content! The Layers panel opens in the lower right of Photoshop’s interface.

You can show or hide the Layers panel by pressing the F7 key on your keyboard. Press F7 once to hide the Layers panel. Press F7 again to show it. Note that this will also show and hide the Channels and Paths panels since they’re nested in with the Layers panel in the same panel group: A closer view of the Layers panel. Clicking the New Layer icon. Problem is, Photoshop gives the new layer a generic name, like “Layer 1”, which doesn’t tell us anything about what the layer will be used for: Photoshop’s generic layer names are not very helpful.

This tells Photoshop to first pop open the New Layer dialog box where we can name the layer before it’s added. Giving the layer a more descriptive name. Click OK to accept the name and close out of the New Layer dialog box. Here, we see my new “Cloning” layer in the Layers panel: The new layer appears with the custom name. Photoshop will pop open the New Layer dialog box so you can give the layer a descriptive name.

This will bypass the New Layer dialog box and simply add the new layer with one of Photoshop’s generic names like “Layer 2”.

Here, I’ve made a copy of my Background layer. Notice that Photoshop automatically named the copy “Layer 1”. Then press the letter V on your keyboard to select the Move Tool. Rather than moving the original layer, you’ll move a copy of the layer while the original stays in place. Adding A New Layer Below The Currently Selected Layer By default, Photoshop adds new layers above the layer that’s currently selected in the Layers panel, but we can also add new layers below the currently selected layer.

Notice in this screenshot that my top layer Layer 1 is selected. Note that this trick does not work when the Background layer is selected, since Photoshop does not allow us to place layers below the Background layer: The new layer appears below the layer that was previously selected. Note that this selects all layers except the Background layer: Selecting Multiple Layers To select multiple layers that are contiguous that is, directly above or below each other , click on the top layer to select it, then press and hold your Shift key and click on the bottom layer or vice versa.

This will select the top layer, the bottom layer, and all layers in between. Here, I’ve clicked on the “Dancer” layer, then Shift-clicked on the “Shadow” layer. Photoshop selected both layers plus the “Color Fill 1” layer between them: Selecting contiguous layers. The right bracket key will add the layer above the currently selected layer to your selection.

Continue pressing it to move up the layer stack and select more layers. The left bracket key will add the layer below the currently selected layer. Press it repeatedly to move down the layer stack adding more layers. Selecting non-contiguous layers. The right bracket key scrolls up through the layers; the left bracket key scrolls down. The right bracket key moves the layer up; the left bracket key moves it down.

Note that this does not work with the Background layer since you can’t move the Background layer. Also, you won’t be able to move any other layers below the Background layer.

Here, I’ve jumped my “Color Fill 1” layer to the top: Jumping the selected layer to the top of the stack. Again, neither one of these shortcuts works with the Background layer: Jumping the selected layer to the bottom of the stack above the Background layer.

Show And Hide Layers If you’ve been using Photoshop for a while, you probably know that you can temporarily hide a layer in the document by clicking its visibility icon the eyeball in the Layers panel: Click the visibility eyeball icon to toggle a layer on or off.

Notice that the eyeball is now visible only for my “Dancer” layer, which tells us that every other layer in the document is now hidden.

Only that one layer remains visible. The right bracket key will scroll up through the layers; the left bracket key will scroll down. As you arrive at each new layer, Photoshop will make that layer visible in the document and leave all the others hidden. This makes it easy to scroll through your layers and see exactly what’s on each one. A selection outline will appear around the layer’s contents in the document: Create A New Group From Layers To quickly create a layer group from your selected layers, first select the layers you want to include we covered selecting multiple layers earlier: Selecting the layers to place inside the group.

Photoshop will create a new layer group and place your selected layers inside it. Create A Clipping Mask There’s a couple of quick ways to create clipping masks in Photoshop using keyboard shortcuts. The first way is to hover your mouse cursor directly over the dividing line between two layers in the Layers panel.

The top layer will be clipped to the layer below it. Do the same thing again to release the clipping mask: Another way to create a clipping mask is to first select the layer that should be clipped to the layer below it. Pressing the same shortcut again will release the mask.

Cycle Through Layer Blend Modes When trying to decide which layer blend mode to use, most people choose one from the Blend Mode drop-down list in the top left corner of the Layers panel to see what effect it has on their image. Then, they choose a different one from the list to view the effect.

Then then they choose another, and another, and so on. There’s a much better way. The plus key scrolls down through the list; the minus key scrolls up. Hold Shift and use the plus and minus keys to cycle through the blend modes. You can also jump to specific blend modes from the keyboard. Changing The Layer Opacity To quickly change the opacity of a layer, first press the letter V on your keyboard to select Photoshop’s Move Tool, then type a number. Whatever opacity value you enter appears in the Opacity option in the top right corner of the Layers panel across from the Blend Mode option: Select a layer in the Layers panel, then type a number to change the its Opacity value.

You don’t technically need to have the Move Tool selected for this shortcut to work, but you do need to have a tool selected that does not have its own independent Opacity option otherwise you’ll change the tool’s opacity, not the layer opacity.

The Move Tool does not have its own Opacity option, and since it’s located at the top of the Tools panel, it’s the easiest to select. Changing The Fill Value We can also change a layer’s Fill value from the keyboard in much the same way. The Fill option is located directly under the Opacity option, and like Opacity, Fill controls the transparency of a layer. The difference between them is that Opacity controls the transparency level for both the contents of the layer and any layer styles applied to it, while Fill ignores any layer styles and affects only the layer’s actual contents.

See our Layer Opacity vs Fill tutorial for more details. To change the Fill value from the keyboard, press and hold Shift, then type in the new value: Hold Shift and type a number to change the Fill value. And there we have it! That’s our roundup of the essential shortcuts for working quickly and efficiently with layers in Photoshop! Looking for more Photoshop tips? Or, check out our Photoshop Layers Learning Guide section for more layers tutorials!

The Essential Layers Shortcuts

From creating, copying and selecting layers to blend modes, clipping masks and more, learn how to speed up your Photoshop workflow with these essential layers shortcuts! Written by Steve Patterson. When it comes to getting the most out of Photoshop with the least amount of effort, there are two things we absolutely need to know—how to use layers, and how to use keyboard shortcuts. Layers keep our work flexible, while keyboard shortcuts help us complete our goals as quickly as possible. In this tutorial, I’ve combined the two and rounded up Photoshop’s essential keyboard shortcuts for working with layers!

VIDEO: A Fantastic Photoshop Shortcut: Opacity Keys | Fstoppers

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