Beginners To Advanced
Understanding Layers is fundamental to being able to produce sophisticated work within Paint Shop Pro. They are the most essential feature it offers, and once the basics are understood - getting started is quite straight forward. After you have worked with Layers a few times, the more advanced features - such as Layer Masks, Layer Groups and Adjustment Layers, will fall into place.
Once you take your first step, you will never look back.
Paint Shop Pro Version Note
This Layers tutorial was originally written using Paint Shop Pro 7 and X, and I have amended it to be compatible with recent (XI, X2, X3, X4, X5, & Newer) Paint Shop Pro versions. If you have questions, or need my help in any way, you are welcome to Contact Me Here.
Understanding Blend Modes
Disable PSP X4/X5’ & Newer Tabbed Browsing Setting
Paint Shop Pro 7 - Layers Freezing - Link Here For A Solution
Convert A Road To A River Using A Layer Mask - Mini Tutorial - Advanced
You may find it helpful to print this tutorial, and read it at your leisure, bit-by-bit.
I have found that my Layers PDF tutorial is fully printable using my Windows XP Home operating system. In addition, this on-line tutorial is fully printable using Internet Explorer: however, if you are experiencing difficulties printing this Layers tutorial using a Web Browser other than Internet Explorer; please link Here to view my on-line
For most simple image retouches and corrections, you do not have to add any Layers; however, it is generally a good habit to simply duplicate the Layer (by right-clicking the Layer in the Layers palette and choosing Duplicate from the subsequent drop-down list), before applying actions such as the photograph correction commands. By applying any changes to the Duplicated Layer, you will always preserve the original image on its own Layer. And when you intend to do more complex work; such as add elements to the image - create photo compositions; or add text and other effects - it is good practise to utilise Layers for these tasks.
When creating Layers, each Layer that you add begins as a transparent sheet over the Background Layer; as you add brush strokes, vector objects, picture tubes or text - you cover up parts of the Background Layer. Transparent parts allow you to see through to underlying Layers. You can stack up multiple Layers to create whatever effect you like - such as artistic compositions, collages - or complex illustrations.
In this tutorial, I demonstrate how to build a simple five-layered image, I also explain the more advanced features of Layers. To work along, you are welcome to download the sky and transparent flower images Here.
Unzip the file and open the images onto Paint Shop Pro’s workspace.
If your Layers Palette is not open on Paint Shop Pro’s workspace, press your L or your F8 key - depending on your Paint Shop Pro version, pressing the L or F8 Key toggles your Layers palette on or off.
150+ Beginner (PDF) Tutorials
Customising Paint Shop Pro X, XI, X2, X3, X4, X5 & Newer (Ultimate)Photo’s Layers Palette (Right-pane)
Paint Shop Pro Versions
I am currently utilising Paint Shop Pro 7 and Paint Shop Pro X4/X5 & Newer. Version X’s Layers Palette is identical to XI’s. Paint Shop Pro 8 and 9’s Layers Palette are very similar to each other, and Paint Shop Pro X2/X3/X4/5 & Newer Photo’s (and Ultimate) Layers Palette is similar to X, XI and X2/3/4/5 s’ (& Newer) Layers Palette.
Click This Text Link To Read My PaintShop Pro’s Workspace Tutorial
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Art Media Layers
Layer Blend Modes
Toggle Layer Visibility
Layer Properties Palette
Layer Styles PSP X2/3/4/5 Photo
New Vector Or Raster Layers
Building A Five Layered Image
Saving Layers Intact As .PSP Files
Non-destructive Adjustment Layers
Layer Stacks - Rearranging Layers’ Orders
New Layers Palette Tabs For PaintShop Pro X4, X5 & Newer
Promote A Background Layer To An Editable Layer
Converting Solid Backgrounds To Transparent Chessboard Backgrounds
Quickly Scroll Through All Of The Blend Mode Choices (PSP 8 9 X X XI X2 X3 X4 X5 & Newer Photo)
Note - Layer Content Thumbnails
The content of Paint Shop Pro X XI X2 X3 X4 X5 & Newer Photo’s Layers are displayed as permanent thumbnails. Paint Shop Pro 7 8 9; to display the content of your Layers; hover your cursor over a Layer, and its thumbnail will automatically display - as illustrated below.
Note: As soon as you move your cursor away, the thumbnail will once again be hidden.
1/ Build A Simple Five Layered Image - (150+ Beginners PDF Tutorials).
Open the start images onto Paint Shop Pro’s workspace - Ctrl then O - (File then Open).
From the subsequent Open dialogue box, press and hold the Ctrl Key, and then left-click to highlight all five images, and then click Open. As illustrated below.
PaintShop Pro X4/X5 & Newer, disable the Tabbed Documents setting prior to opening the images onto PSP’s workspace - As Demonstrated Here.
Your five start images will then open onto Paint Shop Pro’s workspace.
Now, position your transparent flowers and sky image as illustrated below, by left-clicking and dragging their upper menu bars. Ensure you can see a small area of each image.
Important: PaintShop Pro X4/X5 & Newer Disable The Tabbed Documents Setting
PaintShop Pro X4/X5 & Newer students; before opening the images onto PaintShop Pro X4/X5’s workspace, you must first disable the default Tabbed Documents setting. To disable the default Tabbed Documents setting, from the top menu, choose Window then from the subsequent drop-down list, left-click to remove the tick from Tabbed Documents - as illustrated below.
2/ All Paint Shop Pro Versions
Now, that you’ve opened all five images onto Paint Shop Pro’s workspace, activate the Sky Image by left-clicking its menu bar, then drag it to the left of the flower images. If you look at your Layers palette, you will notice the sky image has been placed onto a Layer, and the Layer is named Background. All of the image that you can see, (for example its coloured pixels), are contained within this one Background Layer.
Now, lets say you want to add a transparent sunflower image to your sky photograph; to do so, you would activate the sunflower image by left-clicking its top menu bar, (you may need to drag the sky image to one side to reveal the sunflower’s menu bar).
After left-clicking the sunflower’s top menu bar: from Paint Shop Pro’s top menu, choose Edit then choose Copy - as illustrated below.
Now, activate the sky image by left-clicking its top menu bar: then again from the top menu choose Edit and this time choose Paste As New Layer - as illustrated below.
Your transparent sunflower has now been pasted (as a New Layer) onto the sky image, and will be positioned above the sky Background layer, as illustrated below. There can only be one Background layer; therefore, the sunflower will be automatically named Raster 1.
Your image now has two layers, Raster 1 and Background.
Now, copy and paste the remaining transparent flowers onto the sky Background image, exactly as you did with the sunflower. Then to save PC resources, delete the original images. After you have completed this, your image will then have five layers - including the Background layer, and your Layers palette will resemble the following. (You are welcome to download my five-layered Paint Shop Pro file Here).
5/ Rename The (Raster) Layers
The first thing to do after creating your layers is to rename them; this is especially important if you have more than two. Renaming layers makes them easier to recognise. To rename a layer, (from the Layers palette), left-click to activate a layer, then repeatedly left-click until the name becomes highlighted - as demonstrated below; then with your cursor, highlight the name already there, then press your Delete key to remove the name. Now, type in a memorable name for your layer.
Paint Shop Pro 8 9 X XI X2 X3 X4 X5 & Newer Photo + (Ultimate)
An alternative way to rename your layer is to right-click it, then choose Rename from the subsequent drop-down list - the name will then be highlighted, and you can type in a new name. Alternatively, double-left-click an empty area of a highlighted layer to display the Layer Properties dialogue box; enter a new name into the Name menu, then click OK.
Leave the Background layer’s name as it is.
Now, highlight the remaining Layers’ names, and rename them - just as you did with the
Now you have named, (or renamed) your layers, you are ready for the next step.
It is time to rearrange the flowers over the sky; therefore, from the left-side Tools Toolbar, activate the Mover/Move Tool.
Then left-click to activate (highlight) a flower layer.
Activating the layer in the Layers palette makes the corresponding image on your workspace active. Now, left-click the corresponding image on your workspace - (in this case it is the Fancy Orchid) - then drag it to one side, as illustrated below-right.
Then drag the remaining images to a different position, and you are ready for the next step.
7/ Rearrange Layers
To reposition a flower so it appears behind - or in front of another, you need to reposition the layer in the Layers palette. For example, if you want to reposition the sunflower image so it is in front of the other flowers - left-click to highlight the sunflower layer, then
left-click (and hold) then drag the sunflower layer all the way to the top of the Layers
Stack. This in turn places the sunflower image in front of the other flowers -
as illustrated below.
In exactly the same way as you repositioned the sunflower layer; reposition your flowers to your liking by dragging a layer either above or below the others - it is a bit like shuffling a pack of cards.
Take a little time to practise this step.
When you have repositioned your flowers, you are ready for the next step.
8/ Duplicate Layers
If you would like to Duplicate a flower layer, right-click the layer, then choose Duplicate from the subsequent drop-down list. Your new (duplicated) layer will then be placed above the original, and will be assigned the name Copy of - and the layer’s name. You will not see the duplicated layer because it will be placed over the original sunflower image. To see the duplicated flower, activate the Move Tool and drag the duplicated layer to one side - as illustrated below.
9/ Delete Layers
To delete a layer, right-click the layer in question, then from the subsequent drop-down
list, choose Delete. Click OK to the subsequent Delete Layer warning dialogue box to delete the layer. Alternatively, left-click to highlight the layer, then left-click the following Delete Layer tab.
Mark (click a tick or a dot) into the Don’t ask about this anymore box to stop future
After deleting your layer, you are ready for the next step.
10/ Alter A Layer’s Opacity
Now, activate the sunflower layer, then left-click the Opacity slider - and move it to the left - to perhaps 53%. Notice how this reduces the transparency of just the sunflower, subsequently displaying the sky pixels behind the sunflower. By altering the Opacity slider you can render an image completely transparent (invisible), or 100 % opaque, (solid) - and any percentage in between. This can be extremely useful when positioning complex collages - rendering an image semitransparent lets you position images with accuracy - using the Move Tool.
Opacity Tip (Using Your Keyboard’s Arrow Keys)
You can change the Opacity quickly and with precision by first hovering your cursor over the Opacity slider, then left-clicking it. Then immediately tapping your Keyboard’s Left or Right Arrow Key. (The Left Arrow Key decreases the Opacity value, and the Right Arrow key increases the value).
11/ Apply Drop Shadows
It is time to activate each flower layer (consecutively) and apply a Drop Shadow to each. Therefore, activate a flower layer, then from the top menu of Paint Shop Pro, choose Effects then choose 3D then choose Drop Shadow. Set the following settings into the Drop Shadow dialogue box - or enter your own choice, then click OK.
After you have applied your Drop Shadows to the remaining flower layers, you are ready for the next step.
When you are happy with the position of your flowers, (first save your work with the layers intact as a .PSP if you want to retain the layers) - then from the top menu, choose Layers then choose Merge then choose Merge All (Flatten). Then save and optimise your work.
The rest of this tutorial talks you through the more advanced Layers palette settings. Beginners, take a little time to familiarise yourself with the Layers palette, and in no time at all you will be creating multiple layers without giving it a second thought.
12/ Toggle A Layer’s Visibility
You may find it useful to temporarily hide a Layer’s Visibility - for example, in order to see other elements of a layered image. You do this by left-clicking the following (Layer) Visibility Toggle eye icon (or spectacles for PSP 7). Left-clicking the eye (or spectacles) places either no-entry sign, or red cross over it - depending on your version. To return the Layer’s Visibility, click back the eye (or spectacles) icon to remove the no-entry sign - or red cross.
13/ Edit Selection
The Edit Selection tab (when clicked), allows you to turn a selection into a temporary layer so you can adjust it with all the painting tools normally used to manipulate pixels. After clicking the Edit Selection tab, activate a Painting Tool from the Toolbar, and set the attributes of your choice. When painting in this manner, remember, painting with White adds to the selection, (or layer), and painting with Black subtracts from the selection - and painting with shades of Grey - adds to, or subtracts from the selection, depending on the level of grey. When you click another layer, you will see a Selection Marquee isolating the area you have just painted. Effects can then be applied to the isolated area - press Ctrl then D to remove the Selection Marquee.
14/ Art Media Layers - Paint Shop Pro 8 9 X XI X2 X3 X4 X5 & Newer
To create a New Art Media Layer, click the black triangle highlighted above, and make your choice from the subsequent drop-down list.
15/ New Vector Or New Raster Layer
To create a New Raster or a New Vector Layer, click the black triangle highlighted above, and make your choice from the subsequent drop-down list. Alternatively, from the top menu, choose Layers then choose either New Raster Layer or New Vector Layer.
16/ Background Layer
When you open a photograph or image onto Paint Shop Pro’s workspace, it will be automatically assigned the name Background.
Subsequent layers will then be automatically named according to their attributes - for
example, Raster 1 Raster 2, Art Media 1, etcetera. You are unable to fully edit a Background layer; therefore, in order to apply effects or commands to a Background layer: from the top menu, choose Layers then choose Promote Background Layer (or Layers then Promote to layer depending on your Paint Shop Pro version). After promoting your Background layer, the layer’s name will change to Layer 1, and is fully editable. An alternative way of promoting a Background layer is to double-left-click the layer, then click OK to the subsequent Layer Properties dialogue box - (accepting its default settings).
17/ Layer Groups
You will encounter Layer Groups in two ways; if you choose to create one, or if you create a Mask Layer - Mask Layers are automatically created for you when you click the New Mask Layer tab. You can create a New Layer Group by left-clicking the following tiny black arrow.
After clicking OK to the subsequent New Layer Group dialogue box - a new group will be created, and will appear as illustrated below.
The New Layer Group will be created above the active layer in the Layers palette.
You can also create a New Layer Group by right-clicking a layer and choosing New Layer Group from the subsequent drop-down list.
Layer Groups have the same options as individual layers; this means you can alter the layer’s Opacity - and all the layers within the group will become identically transparent. Similarly, you can use a Blend Mode on a Layer Group and it will adjust how the pixels below the group appear. In essence, a Layer Group acts as a single layer, and is adjusted in that way; however, that doesn’t mean the individual layer within the group cannot have its own Properties adjusted individually. The Properties options still remain and you can, for example - change the Opacity of a single layer within a group.
18/ Layer Properties - Paint Shop Pro X2 X3 X4 X5 Newer Photo’s Layer Styles Tab Here
Each layer in the Layers palette can be adjusted in a variety of ways through the Layers palette, or by right-clicking a layer and selecting an option from the subsequent drop-down list. To display the Layer Properties dialogue box, either double-left-click over an empty area of a layer in the Layers palette. Alternatively, right-click over a layer and choose Properties from the subsequent drop-down list. The Layer Properties dialogue resembles the following.
The Layer Properties dialogue box lets you make multiple adjustments to your image, or the layer you are working with - at the same time. Amongst others settings, you can alter the layer’s Blending Mode, and change its Name. You can also alter the Opacity with accuracy, which is sometimes not possible using the Opacity slider. Link set allows you to move layers’ pixels, together.
19/ Link Layers
You can Link Layers so they behave as one unit when moved in the Layers palette - for example, if you linked two flowers together, then moved one of the flowers with the Move Tool, the linked flower would move also. Linking layers assigns each layer with identical link numbers. You can link Grouped Layers, which allows all layers within a Layer Group to move together on the image canvas. You can also link individual layers from different Layer Groups and move them together without moving other layers in the Layer Group. Linking does not affect the stacking order; it affects only the movements you make with the Move tool on the image canvas. The only way to move layers together in the stacking order is to Group them. When you move a Layer Group in the stacking order, all layers move, regardless of whether the Group is linked or not. To link a layer, left-click to highlight your layer, then click the Link Layer icon. Repeat this to link more layers.
To unlink a layer, highlight the layer then click the chain link icon - when the name changes to None, your layer has been successfully unlinked.
20/ Lock Transparency
Locking Transparency does not lock the Opacity slider; you can still adjust the opacity from 0 to 100% - and the layer’s content will fade in or out accordingly. Instead, the Lock Transparency tab stops any adjustment of the proportionally transparency state of pixels on a layer. Lets assume a pixel is 100 percent solid, (I. E. has no transparency), and that the pixel next to it is 80 percent transparent, (it has a feathered edge) - and a neighbouring pixel is nought percent (0) - making it fully transparent. Now, if you were to lock the transparency of the layer by clicking the Lock Transparency padlock, then paint over the pixels with a solid Paint Brush - the pixels will remain at 100 percent, 80 percent and 0, respectively. This is useful when applying an effect or an adjustment that would push pixels out beyond the current edges of opaque pixels on a layer. With the transparency locked, the edges remain intact.
21/ Merging Layers
Layers add many features to Paint Shop Pro; however, they also increase an image’s final file size - and aren’t supported by all programmes. if you are absolutely certain you don’t need to retain the layers; to reduce the final file size, from the top menu, choose Layers then choose Merge, then make your choice from the following drop-down list. Paint Shop Pro merges layers based on Blend Modes; converts Vector data and Vector text to Raster data, and replaces transparent areas of the background layer with solid white. Many file formats, such as Jpeg, Tiff and Gif files do not support multiple layered images. When you save files to those formats, Paint Shop merges all layers to a single Background layer. When you save your work as a Paint Shop Pro Image file, the image retains Raster and Adjustment Layers, however Vector and Art Media Layers are converted to Raster Layers.
Merge Down; this setting merges the highlighted layer in the Layers palette with the layer directly beneath it. Merge All (Flatten); this setting merges (or flattens) all layers in the Layers palette (including the Background layer) into one flattened image. Merge Visible; this setting will merge all layers in the Layers palette; however, if they have transparent backgrounds, (chessboard effect), the transparency will be retained.
To retain an image’s layers, you must save your work as a .PSP Paint Shop Pro file - by (from the top menu), choosing File then choosing Save as, then choosing the following PSPimage Save as type format.
Further Paint Shop Pro file format information can be viewed here
22/ Layer Masks - Masks, The Basic Principles Explained Here
A Mask Layer lets us paint away areas of an image and paint them back again. For example, if you were to open a large photograph of water onto to Paint Shop Pro’s workspace, then open a photograph of a road, and pasted the road image on top of the water image, you would have two layers in your Layers stack - the road and the water image beneath it - as illustrated below. Cliff House And Water Images Here. Unzipping.
This mini masking tutorial is graded as Advanced.
Step-by-step Layer Masks Tutorial Here - Beginners To Advanced.
Now, to add a New Mask Layer, (Paint Shop Pro X XI X2 X3 X4 X5& Newer) left-click the following tiny black triangle, then click New Mask Layer then click Show All - and your Layers palette will display the Mask layer as follows.
PaintShop Pro X4 X5 & Newer
You can add a New Mask Layer by clicking the following New Mask Layer tab, found at the foot of the Layers Palette.
Colourised Layer Icons After Installing PSPX4 SP1.
Now, from the subsequent drop-down menu, click Show All. As demonstrated below.
Paint Shop Pro 7
From the top menu, choose Masks then choose New then choose Show All. Then from the top menu, choose Masks and this time, choose Edit.
Paint Shop Pro 8 and 9; from the top menu, choose Layers then choose New Mask Layer then choose Show All.
PSP 7 8 9 X XI X2 X3 X4 X5 & Newer
Ensure the Foreground and Background colours are set to the following Black and
On-line Tools Toolbar Tutorials
Paint Shop Pro 7: On-line Toolbar Tutorial
Paint Shop Pro 8 & 9: On-line Toolbar Tutorial
Paint Shop Pro X XI X2 X3 X5 & Newer: On-line Toolbar Tutorial
PaintShop Pro X4: On-line Toolbar Tutorial
Then activate the Paint Brush Tool.
Now, left-click and begin painting over the road area - as illustrated below.
Because of the Mask Layer and the Foreground and Background settings - your Paint Brush is removing the road image, subsequently revealing the water image from the layer beneath it. Depending on where you are applying the Brush Tool, change its Opacity, Hardness, and Size as necessary. For example, when removing the road close to the pavements, you need to reduce the brush’s Opacity, Hardness and Size.
If you swap the colours, thereby making the Foreground colour White, you can paint back the road.
You can create the Road to River effect using the Eraser Tool. However, Masks - (unlike the Eraser Tool), let you paint back detail - after it has been removed.
23/ Adding Non-destructive Adjustment Layers
An Adjustment Layer adjusts the colour or tone of underlying layers without modifying their pixels directly - meaning they are not applied to the photograph directly. They are therefore referred to as non-destructive. For example, rather than making a Levels or Curves adjustment directly to your image, you can create a Levels or Curves Adjustment Layer. The adjustments are then stored in the Adjustment Layer, and apply to all layers below it. You can discard your changes and restore the original image at any time.
To create an Adjustment Layer, (Paint Shop Pro X XI X2 X3 X4 X5 & Newer) left-click the following black triangle, then click New Adjustment Layer, and make your choice from the subsequent drop-down menu of Adjustment Layer choices. Alternatively, (all versions), from the top menu, choose Layers then choose New Adjustment Layer. Note: In the Adjustment Layer’s General preferences dialogue box, you can allocate any solid colour to highlight the layer in the Layers Palette.
My tutorial here demonstrates how to apply an Invert Adjustment Layer and is written for
PaintShop Pro X4 X5 & Newer Layer Palette’s New Adjustment Layers Tab
If you have PaintShop Pro X4 X5 & Newer, you can also access Adjustment Layers by clicking the Layers Palette’s Adjustment Layers tab - as illustrated below.
Additional Layers Palette Tabs For PaintShop Pro X4/X5 & Newer Only
24/ Paint Shop Pro Files
You would save your work as a Paint Shop Pro file when working with Layers; saving your file as a PSP Image preserves the layers, and they can then be edited at a later date. Selecting this format enables you to rearrange layers and continue as usual with your work. If you save your work in any other format, for example, a Jpeg, Bit map or Gif - your work will automatically be flattened, thereby losing any layers.
To be able to open a Paint Shop Pro file, you must have a version of Paint Shop Pro on your PC. However, if for example, you have version 7, you will be unable to open versions’ 8, 9 or X, XI, X2, X3, X4 X5’s & Newer files. This is because Paint Shop Pro is not backwards compatible. This means, older versions of Paint Shop Pro cannot open newer versions’ files, unless they were optimised to open with older versions, when they were first created. However, newer versions, (Paint Shop Pro X for example), can open older versions, (versions such as 9, 8, and 7).
Hiding Background Layers - PSP X XI X2 X3 X4 X5 & Newer
To hide the solid white background, (thereby creating a transparent chessboard
background), click the Background layer’s Visibility eye icon - as illustrated below left.
You can now create a New Layer and fill it with your choice from the Materials palette.
New To Paint Shop Pro X2/X3/4/5 & Newer Photo + - Layer Styles
The Layer Styles Command is new to Paint Shop Pro X2/X3/X4/X5 & Newer Photo, and is an excellent way to apply instant styles such as Reflections, Outer Glows and Bevels to text or objects.
To apply Layer Styles to objects or text, the object or text must either have a Transparent (Chessboard) Background, or be applied onto its own Layer. In addition, any Selection Marquees must be removed. After you have applied your text, or object with the parameters previously mentioned, double-left-click over the text or object’s Layer, and the following Layer Properties dialogue box will appear. Now, click the Layer Styles tab and you will see the following Layer Style) Settings. Click the Preview on Image box, then experiment with the settings, and click OK to apply your choice of Styles.
Customising X, XI, X2, X3, X4 X5 & Newer Photo’s Right-side Pane
By default, Paint Shop Pro X, XI, X2 X3 X4 X5 & Newer Photo’s Layers Palette resembles the following.
However, if you would like the Layers Palette to display the following moveable Right-side Pane.
From the top menu of Paint Shop Pro, choose File then choose Preferences then choose General Program Preferences. From the subsequent Preferences dialogue box, (from its left-side menu), click Palettes. Now, from the right-side menu, mark the following
Right Pane tick box, then click OK to close the Preferences dialogue box. Upon returning to your workspace, the Layers Palette will then display its Right Pane. The Pane can then be resized/repositioned by hovering your cursor over its central repositioned panel, (highlighted above), and dragging it to the left, or to the right.
To get the most from Paint Shop Pro; take a little time to familiarise yourself with the Layers palette.
Promote A Background Layer To An Editable Layer
When you open a photograph onto Paint Shop Pro’s workspace, it is known as a Background Layer. You are unable to fully edit a Background layer; therefore, in order to apply effects or commands to a Background layer: from the top menu, choose Layers then choose Promote Background Layer (or Layers then Promote to layer depending on your Paint Shop Pro version). After promoting your Background layer, the layer’s name will change to Layer 1, and is fully editable. An alternative way of promoting a Background layer is to double-left-click the layer, then click OK to the subsequent Layer Properties dialogue box - (accepting its default settings).
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