We will soon get back to the nuances of Pixel Targeting, but first we need to take a break and make time for checking out the next big thing: ACDSee Ultimate 8! This is a brand new product that combines the digital asset management and editing power of ACDSee Pro with a layered editor. This is a big deal because, not only is there no other product out there like this, but it blows the ceiling off the limits of what was possible with your photo editing. You can make some crazy stuff, you can make useful/practical stuff, you can do whatever the heck you want. Now let’s get started.
Layers allow you to work on a single element of an image without disturbing other elements. This makes it possible to add effects, shapes, text, watermarks, etc, and edit them all individually. You can perform photo manipulations, create composites, and pretty much whatever else you can dream up. You can make every layer as transparent or opaque as you want, and stack each element to hide and reveal what you want. You can use layers in conjunction with image effects and adjustment tools, drawing tools, text, and more. Effects and adjustments will be applied to the layer selected in the Layers pane. You can also create a blank image and layer other elements on top of it.
Let’s do something fun to start with. Let’s generate our own meme. In my opinion, a good meme should touch on a shared experience, no matter how silly, and perhaps make us laugh or feel assured that we’re not alone in our silliness. We all make mistakes, and, personally, I find that if I’ve attempted to learn from my mistake and things still go wrong, it’s time to blame an inanimate object. Thus, my Scumbag T-Shirt meme will be created!
Step one: Take your base photo — in this case, the object, but sometimes the subject, of the meme — and open it in Edit mode. If the Layers pane is not already open in Edit mode, go to View | Layers. You will see your image as Layer 1 in the Layers pane on the right side.
At this point, personally I would do any adjusting that I felt the base photo needed, just because I like to keep things simple. Step Two: I’m going to add the next element, which I will have on the second layer so that I can edit it independently. In order to do this, I drag the image from the Filmstrip at the bottom of Edit mode, or, if the image I want is stored in another folder, I can go to Layer | Import from File…
I add the scumbag hat, which has a transparent background. This automatically appears in the Layers pane as Layer 2. Step Three: To move and resize this element, I first ensure that I have Layer 2 selected in the Layers pane, and then I enter the Move tool, which you’ll find amidst the Selection and Drawing tools on the top of the Edit mode tools. Yellow squares and circles appear around the scumbag hat. I can click and drag on the squares to resize the hat. Observe that in the bar above the image there is a checkbox that says Lock Aspect Ratio enabled by default. Leave this checked if you would like to make sure that your element doesn’t end up a wonky shape when you drag it to the size you want. Use the circular handles to rotate the element one direction or another. To simply move the element, click in the middle of it and drag to where you want it to go.
Once I have the hat just where I want, I press the Commit button, (up in the top Context bar near the Lock Aspect Ratio button), to exit out of the Move tool.
Step Four: I want to add my text. So, I click on the Text tool under the Add group.
I would like my text to remain as a separate element that I can move, rotate, resize, or change its layer order, blend mode, or opacity on a whim, so at the bottom of the Text tool, I check the Add text as a new layer checkbox. I configure the text settings as desired. Then I press Apply. This allows me to add a second set of text at the bottom, and it will also be on its own layer. I press Apply and then Done and I exit out of the tool, and now I can continue to move the text by selecting its layer and using the Move tool.
And that’s that! My meme is complete. I press Done and press Save As. In the Save Image As dialog, ACDSee Ultimate offers to save it as a .acdc file. I choose Save, as this format will allow me to edit the layers individually again, should I choose to open this image in Edit mode in the future.
I present my Scumbag T-Shirt meme!
If you don’t know what a scumbag meme is, just smile and nod. It’s not essential information. All you need to know is that shirts that shrink are jerks. What is important is that you now know how to create an image with several layers!
Now, let’s move on to something a bit more complicated. I want to make something along the vein of a pamphlet. Let us now pretend I own a vineyard (I wish!) and I want to promote my sauvignon blanc.
I know I want to blend two images at least, so to save myself extra work, I make sure they are the same size. Or rather, I choose the image that I want to be the size of the final product as the basis for resizing the other photo. (You don’t have to do it this way.) I can see that that photo is 2736 x 3648, so I open the image I want to blend with it in Edit mode and go to the Resize tool in the Geometry group. Here, I uncheck the Preserve Aspect Ratio checkbox, because I want these images to match up properly. This may not always be the case, but it is for me in this scenario. Then under Pixels, I enter 2736 x 3648 and press Done. So why don’t I just open both of these images in the Layers pane and do the resizing then? Well, in that case, resizing affects the whole canvas that the images are being stacked on. So, if I make the canvas smaller than one of the images already is, bits of that image could get cut off.
All right, now to begin. I will start with a background photo of some grapes, which I took (in somebody else’s vineyard, OK).
First, I make the adjustments I need to in order to get that bit out of the way. Now I’ll add my second layer: a wine bottle and glass. To do this, go to Layer | Import from File… This new photo will appear in the Layers pane as Layer 2. Select the Hand tool.
Then go to Layer | Mask | Add White Mask. A layer mask will allow you to control a layer’s transparency. Since we aim to put two images together, this is exactly the sort of tool we need. Because I added a white mask, I will now use a black brush to brush “holes” through the mask to reveal the layer beneath. So, I select the Brush tool, followed by the color box, which I will change to black, if it’s not already.
I can now brush the background of the wine bottle image to reveal the vineyard image below.
What if I screw up? What if my hand slips and I brush over the bottle, as seen here:
I really don’t sweat it. All I need to do is switch my brush color to white using the switch arrow at the color box. Then I’ll “brush the mask back on”. By using white, I am making the mask visible once more.
Once I’ve revealed the vineyard behind the bottle and glass, I’ve decided that I don’t want the bottle and glass centered as they are now. So, i click the Move tool, and then drag the wine bottle image to my desired location. Then I press Commit in the Context bar when I’m finished moving it. I am also going to make the wine bottle and glass somewhat transparent by selecting their layer and adjusting the Opacity slider in the top of the Layers panel.
As I’d like to make this an ad, I’m going to add a vignette. I go to Layer | Add New Layer so that the vignette will be made on its own layer. Then under the Add group, I choose the Vignette tool. In the Vignette tool, I configure the sliders until I get the vignette to cover just the area I want. When the vignette looks how I desire, I press Done.
Next, I’m interested in adding some text. For this, I will add a new layer, so that I can edit the text independently. However, I can do this from within the Text tool. I choose the Text tool under the Add group. I enter text and add it as a new layer, as detailed earlier. Hint: Check the Add text as new layer checkbox. I can configure the text settings to make it look exactly how I want. I press Apply. Then repeat, to add more text elements.
Lastly, I am going to add a logo. This is a .png file with a transparent background. Same deal as above. Layer | Import from File…, then use the Move tool to place it. I press Commit in the Context bar, and bam! We’ve got ourselves an ad.