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How to Crop a Single Layer in Photoshop

Here are two ways to crop a single layer in Photoshop so you can crop the contents of one layer without cropping every layer at once. For Photoshop 2023 and earlier.

Download the PDF: How To Crop A Single Layer

Written by Steve Patterson.

One question I’m asked a lot is, How do you crop the contents of a single layer? We can’t use the Crop Tool because it crops all layers at once. So in this tutorial, I show you two ways to do it. The first way is the easiest way to crop a layer, but the easy way is not always the best. So I also show you a better way that’s both flexible (you can go back and edit the crop) and non-destructive.

Which version of Photoshop do I need?

I’m using Photoshop 2023 but any version will work.

The document setup

Here I have a document with two layers, as we see in the Layers panel.

Photoshop’s Layers panel.

Each layer holds a different image. Here’s the image on the top layer (couple photo from Adobe Stock). I want to crop away most of this image and keep just the area around the two people.

The image on the layer that will be cropped.

Turning off the top layer.

We see the image on the bottom layer (leaves photo from Adobe Stock). Once I’ve cropped the other image, I’m going to move the cropped version into the center of this image .

The image on the Background layer.

Let’s get started!

Download this tutorial as a print-ready PDF!

The easy way to crop a single layer in Photoshop

Here’s the fastest and easiest way to crop a single layer in Photoshop.

Step 1: Select the layer you want to crop

In the Layers panel, make sure the layer you want to crop is selected.

Selecting the layer to crop.

Step 2: Choose the Rectangular Marquee Tool

Then in the toolbar, select the Rectangular Marquee Tool.

Choosing the Rectangular Marquee Tool.

Step 3: Select the area to keep

Drag a selection outline around the part of the image you want to keep. Everything outside the selection will be cropped away. Here I’m dragging my selection around the two people.

Dragging a selection around the area to keep.

Step 4: Resize the selection with Transform Selection

If you need to resize your selection outline before cropping the layer, go up to the Select menu in the Menu Bar and choose Transform Selection.

Choosing Transform Selection from the Select menu.

In the Options Bar, unlink the Width and Height fields to unlock the aspect ratio of the selection.

Unlinking the Width and Height.

Then drag any of the transform handles to resize the selection outline.

Dragging the handles to resize the selection.

Step 5: Invert the selection

At the moment, everything on the layer that we want to keep is selected. But what we need is for everything we want to crop away to be selected. Which means we need to invert the selection.

So go up to the Select menu and choose Inverse.

Choosing Inverse from the Select menu.

Step 6: Crop the layer

Then to crop the layer, press the Delete key on your keyboard. Everything that was outside your initial selection gets cropped away.

Press Delete to crop the layer.

Step 7: Remove the selection outline

To remove the selection outline, go back to the Select menu and choose Deselect.

Choosing Deselect from the Select menu.

And that’s the easiest way to crop a layer. If I turn off the Background layer:

We see that everything around my selection was cropped away and replaced with transparency (indicated by the checkerboard pattern).

The unwanted parts of the layer have been cropped away.

Why the easy way to crop a layer is not always best

But here’s the problem. We have now permanently deleted the pixels we cropped away, which means there is no way to go back and edit the crop if we need to restore some of that missing area. At least, not without undoing the crop and starting over.

How to crop a layer using a layer mask

So let me show you a better way to crop a layer in Photoshop, one that is both editable and non-destructive. Instead of deleting the unwanted pixels, we’ll simply hide them using a layer mask.

Related: Extend an image like magic with Generative Fill in Photoshop

Step 1: Select the area you want to keep

If you have not done so already, use the first 4 steps in the previous section to draw a selection outline around the part of the layer you want to keep.

In my case, I’m just going to undo my last few steps, by pressing Ctrl+Z on a Windows PC or Command+Z on a Mac a few times, to get back to my initial selection around the two people.

Restoring the selection around the area to keep.

Step 2: Add a layer mask

Adding a layer mask.

Photoshop crops away everything on the layer that was outside the selection. But this time, those pixels are not gone. They’re just hidden from view.

The layer is cropped but nothing was deleted.

Notice that we now have a layer mask on the layer, indicated by the mask thumbnail. The layer mask is hiding everything that was outside our selection. The white area on the mask is where the contents of the layer are still visible. And the black area is where the content is hidden.

The layer mask thumbnail.

How to toggle the layer mask on and off

Turning off the mask shows the entire contents of the layer.

How to view the layer mask on the canvas

Viewing the layer mask on the canvas.

Step 3: Unlink the mask from the layer

Since we are just hiding pixels, not deleting them, we can edit the crop simply by resizing the visible area of the layer mask.

Step 4: Select the layer mask

Selecting the layer mask.

Step 5: Resize the layer mask with Free Transform

Go up to the Edit menu in the Menu Bar and choose Free Transform.

Selecting Free Transform from the Edit menu.

In the Options Bar, again make sure the link icon between the Width and Height fields is not selected so that the aspect ratio of the layer mask is unlocked.

The Width and Height should not be linked.

Then drag any of the transform handles around the visible area of the layer mask to resize the crop.

Dragging the handles to resize the layer mask.

Moving the cropped layer

Now that I have cropped the top layer using a layer mask, I want to move the cropped image into the center of the background image.

So in the toolbar, I’ll select the Move Tool.

Relinking the layer and the mask.

And now I can drag the cropped image into the center.

Dragging the cropped layer into the center of the background image.

Adding layer effects to the cropped layer

I’ll quickly finish up by adding a stroke and drop shadow to the cropped image using layer effects.

Then I’ll choose Stroke.

Choosing Stroke.

In the Layer Style dialog box, I’ll set the stroke Color to white, the Position to Inside, and the Size to 29 pixels.

The Stroke options.

Then still in the Layer Style dialog box, I’ll select Drop Shadow from the column along the left.

Adding a Drop Shadow.

Dragging on the image to position the Drop Shadow.

Closing the dialog box.

Here is the final result.

The final effect with the cropped layer centered in the background image.

And there we have it! That’s two ways to crop a single layer in Photoshop.

Related tutorials:

Don’t forget, all of my Photoshop tutorials are now available to download as PDFs!

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Add Multiple Strokes To Text With Photoshop Layer Effects

Add Multiple Strokes to Text with Photoshop Layer Effects

Learn how to add multiple strokes around text in Photoshop using layer effects, and how to save the strokes as a layer style preset! A step-by-step tutorial.

Written by Steve Patterson.

Here’s what the final “rainbow strokes” effect will look like when we’re done:

The final result.

Let’s get started!

Download this tutorial as a print-ready PDF!

Which Photoshop version do I need?

The option to add multiple strokes to the same layer was added fairly recently to Photoshop. So to follow along, you’ll need to be using a recent version, preferably Photoshop 2023 or later. Get the latest Photoshop version here.

How to add multiple strokes around your text

We’ll start by learning how to add more than one stroke around your text, and then I’ll show you how to save the result as a layer style preset.

Step 1: Create a new document

Or if you are not on the Home Screen, go up to the File menu in the Menu Bar and choose New:

Then in the Preset Details section of the New Document dialog box, enter a Width and Height for your document. I’ll set the Width to 2000 pixels and the Height to 1200 pixels, but you can use whatever size you need. The Resolution value does not matter because it only applies to print, so I’ll leave it at the default setting. And finally, set the Background Contents to White:

Entering the new document settings.

And the new document appears:

The new Photoshop document.

Step 2: Add your text

To add your text, select the Type Tool from the toolbar:

Selecting the Type Tool.

And then in the Options Bar, choose your font. I’m using HWT Gothic Round which I downloaded from Adobe Typekit, but any font will work:

Choosing a font.

The color swatch shows the current text color.

Adding some text.

Step 3: Resize the text with Free Transform

To resize the text, go up to the Edit menu and choose Free Transform:

Resizing the text with Free Transform.

Centering the text in the document.

Related: Master Photoshop’s Free Transform command

Step 4: Add a Stroke layer effect

And choose Stroke from the list of layer effects:

Adding a Stroke effect.

Step 5: Choose a color for the stroke

And then choose a new color from the Color Picker. I’m setting my strokes to the colors of the rainbow (red, yellow, green, cyan, blue and magenta), working my way from the bottom color to the top. So the first color I need is magenta.

Setting R to 255, G to 0 and B to 255 for magenta.

Step 6: Set the stroke size

Set the width of your stroke using the Size option. I’ll set mine to 10 pixels.

It’s very important that you remember the size you choose here because we’ll be adding this value to each new stroke we add to the text:

Setting the size of the first stroke.

Step 7: Set the position of the stroke to Outside

Finally, set the Position of the stroke to either inside the edges, outside the edges or centered on the edges of your text. For this effect, I’ll choose Outside:

Setting the stroke’s position to Outside.

And we now have our first stroke around the text:

The first stroke is added.

Step 8: Add a second stroke

A second stroke appears above the first. New strokes are always added above the previously-selected stroke, and you can add as many strokes as you like, up to a maximum of 10:

A second stroke is added above the original.

Step 9: Change the stroke color

Changing the new stroke’s color.

Setting R to 0, G to 0 and B to 255 for blue.

What happened to the first stroke?

But notice that we now have a problem. We see our second, blue stroke around the text, but the original magenta stroke has disappeared.

The reason why we can’t see the original stroke is that the second one is sitting above it. And because both strokes are the same size (10 pixels), and they both share the same position (Outside), the stroke on top is completely blocking the stroke below it from view:

The second stroke is visible but the first one is not.

Changing the position of a stroke

Selecting the first stroke.

Then I’ll change its Position from Outside to Inside:

Changing the first stroke’s Position to Inside.

And now with the magenta stroke on the inside of the text and the blue stroke on the outside, both strokes are visible:

Both strokes are visible after changing one of their positions.

The only problem with moving one of the strokes to the inside of the text is that the letters now look a bit too narrow. Plus we still have more strokes to add, which means that this solution is not going to work. So I’ll set the Position of the stroke back to Outside:

Resetting the Position to Outside.

And now we’re back to seeing just the blue stroke:

Back to the original problem.

Step 10: Add the size of the first stroke to the second stroke

So if changing the position isn’t going to work, how do we get the second stroke to appear around the outside of the first one? It’s actually very easy. All we need to do is make the new stroke wider than the original, and then move the new stroke below the original.

First, make sure the new stroke (the blue one) is selected:

Selecting the blue stroke.

Then take the size of the original stroke and add it to the size of the new stroke. In my case, my new stroke is 10 pixels wide, so if I add the size of the original stroke (also 10 pixels wide), I get 20 pixels:

Adding the size of the original stroke to the new stroke.

Step 11: Move the second stroke below the first

Note that you can only move strokes above (using the Up arrow ) or below other strokes. You can’t move a stroke above or below other types of layer effects:

And now both strokes are visible around the outside of the text. The magenta stroke is sitting above the blue stroke, but because the blue stroke is 10 pixels wider than the magenta stroke, those outer 10 pixels of the blue stroke remain visible. And this creates the illusion that both strokes are actually the same width:

Both strokes now appear around the outside of the text.

Download this tutorial as a print-ready PDF!

Step 12: Add a third stroke

At this point, adding more strokes around the text is just a matter of repeating the same steps.

Adding a third stroke.

Setting R to 0, G to 255 and B to 255 for cyan.

Increase the size of the stroke by adding the size of the original stroke. By “original stroke”, I mean the very first stroke we added (the magenta one).

My new stroke is currently 20 pixels wide, so adding the size of the original stroke (10 pixels) means I need to increase the value to 30 pixels:

Increasing the Size of the third stroke.

And we now have three strokes (cyan, blue and magenta) around the text:

The effect with three strokes added around the text.

See also: How to add a rainbow to an image with Photoshop

Step 13: Add a fourth stroke

Adding a fourth stroke.

Changing the color of the fourth stroke.

Setting R to 0, G to 255 and B to 0 for green.

Next, add the original stroke size to the new stroke’s size. So 30 pixels plus 10 pixels equals 40 pixels:

Increasing the size of the fourth stroke.

And we now have a green stroke around the text. Four strokes down, two to go:

A fourth stroke has been added.

Step 14: Add a fifth stroke

Adding a fifth stroke.

Changing the color of the fifth stroke.

Setting R to 255, G to 255 and B to 0 for yellow.

Next, add the original stroke’s size to the new stroke’s size, which takes me up to 50 pixels (40+10):

Increasing the size of the fifth stroke.

And we have our yellow stroke. Only one more rainbow color to go:

Five strokes added around the text.

Step 15: Add a sixth stroke

Adding a sixth stroke.

Changing the color of the sixth stroke.

Setting R to 255, G to 0 and B to 0 for red.

Increase the stroke’s size by adding the original stroke’s size, which brings mine to 60 pixels (50+10):

Increasing the size of the sixth stroke.

And with that, all six rainbow colors are now added as strokes around the text:

All six rainbow colored strokes around the text.

See also: Create a rainbow gradient in Photoshop

Changing the text color with a Color Overlay effect Step 1: Add a Color Overlay effect

Still in the Layer Style dialog box, I’ll select Color Overlay in the column along the left:

Adding a Color Overlay.

Step 2: Choose a new overlay color

Changing the color of the overlay.

Choosing white in the Color Picker.

And now my text color is white. I like this better:

The rainbow color strokes with white text.

How to save the effect as a layer style preset

If you think you might use your multiple stroke effect again in the future, you can save it as a layer style preset.

Then in the New Style dialog box, give the new preset a name. I’ll name mine “Rainbow strokes”. And make sure Include Layer Effects is checked. We didn’t use any blending options so you can leave Include Layer Blending Options unchecked. And unless you want to add the preset to your Creative Cloud library, uncheck Add to my current library.

The New Style options.

Closing the Layer Style dialog box.

How to apply the layer style preset

In the Layers panel, all of the strokes we applied to the text, as well as the Color Overlay effect, appear listed below the type layer:

The layer effects applied to the type layer.

And then choosing Clear Layer Style from the menu:

Choosing “Clear Layer Style”.

And now we’re back to just the black text with no effects applied:

Back to the original text after clearing the layer effects.

Step 1: Select your type layer

To apply a layer style preset to the text, all we need to do is select the style we need from the Styles panel. But first, in the Layers panel, make sure that your type layer is selected:

Selecting the type layer.

Step 2: Open the Styles panel

Then if the Styles panel is not already open on your screen, open it by going up to the Window menu and choosing Styles:

Step 3: Select the layer style preset

As of Photoshop CC 2023, Photoshop’s default layer styles are grouped into folders. But the style we just saved is sitting below the folders.

Selecting the “Rainbow strokes” preset from the Styles panel.

And just like that, the entire effect is instantly applied:

The result after applying the “Rainbow strokes” layer style.

How to add a Drop Shadow to the effect

Finally, what if you want to add a Drop Shadow to the effect? You might think that you could simply add a Drop Shadow to the type layer itself. But the result may not be what you expect.

I’ll quickly add a Drop Shadow just so we can see the problem, and then I’ll drag the shadow away from the text. And notice that while the text itself is being shadowed, the strokes around the text are being ignored. This results in the shadow looking too narrow:

When applied to the type layer, the Drop Shadow ignores the strokes around the text.

We need a way to apply the Drop Shadow to both the text and the strokes. And we can do that by first adding the type layer to a layer group and then applying the Drop Shadow to the group itself.

Step 1: Add the type layer to a new group

And from the menu, choose New Group from Layers:

Selecting “New Group from Layers”.

Naming the layer group.

The new group with the type layer inside it.

Step 2: Add a Drop Shadow to the group

And choose a Drop Shadow layer effect:

Adding a Drop Shadow.

Step 3: Clear the multiple strokes

The settings for the Drop Shadow open in the Layer Style dialog box.

But before we change any of the settings, notice that the Effects column along the left is still cluttered with all of the strokes we added to the text. Even though none of the strokes are active, they are still taking up a lot of space:

The Layers panel still shows the multiple strokes.

And then choosing Reset to Default List from the menu:

Choosing “Reset to Default List”.

Step 4: Reselect “Drop Shadow”

Unfortunately, this deselects the Drop Shadow we chose initially, so you’ll need to reselect it:

Reselecting “Drop Shadow” from the Effects column.

Step 5: Choose your Drop Shadow settings

Then enter the settings you need for the Drop Shadow. I’ll leave the Angle at 135 degrees but I’ll increase the Distance to 30 pixels and the Size (which controls the softness of the shadow edges) to 15 pixels:

Setting the Angle, Distance and Size of the Drop Shadow.

And because we are applying the Drop Shadow to the layer group, everything inside the group, including the strokes around the text, is being shadowed:

The Drop Shadow now affects both the text and the strokes.

Step 6: Change the color of the shadow

Sampling a color from one of the strokes around the text.

Then in the Color Picker, I’ll choose a darker shade of red by lowering the Brightness (B) value down to 50 percent:

Lowering the brightness of the sampled color.

And here, with the Drop Shadow color changed to red, is my final result:

The final effect.

And there we have it! For more ways to use layer effects with text, see my tutorials on how to add transparent text to an image, how to create spray painted text, or how to create sparkling gold letters! And don’t forget, all of our Photoshop tutorials are available to download as PDFs!

5 Ways To Move An Image Or Layer Between Photoshop Documents

This tutorial shows you how to move an image or a layer from one Photoshop document to another. You’ll learn how to copy and paste an image between documents, how to duplicate a layer, and three ways to drag and drop images between documents.

Written by Steve Patterson.

When it comes to blending and compositing images, Adobe Photoshop is the undisputed champ. In fact, Photoshop gives us so many interesting and powerful ways to combine images that our creativity is limited only by our skills and imagination. But before we can start combining images, we first need to know how to get multiple images into the same document. If you’re new to Photoshop, blending even two photos together can seem like an impossible task. That’s because Photoshop opens each image in its own separate document. To blend or composite the images, they need to be in the same document.

In a previous tutorial, we learned all about tabbed and floating document windows in Photoshop. We also learned how to view and arrange multiple open images on the screen using Photoshop’s multi-document layouts. In this tutorial, we’ll take what we’ve learned and explore five different ways to easily move images between documents.

What You’ll Learn

We’ll start with your basic copy and paste method. Then, we’ll learn how to duplicate a layer from one document into another. Finally, we’ll look at three ways to drag and drop an image between documents. We’ll learn how to drag and drop images between tabbed documents, between documents in a multi-document layout, and between two floating document windows. Once you’ve seen how they all work, you can pick the method you like the best! I’ll be using Photoshop CC but this tutorial is fully compatible with Photoshop CS6.

This is lesson 8 of 10 in our Learning the Photoshop Interface series.

Let’s get started!

Download this tutorial as a print-ready PDF!

Opening The Images Into Photoshop

Selecting and opening two images into Photoshop from Adobe Bridge..

By default, Photoshop opens the images as tabbed documents, with only one document visible at a time. Here’s my first image (portrait photo from Adobe Stock):

The first of two photos open in Photoshop. Photo credit: Adobe Stock.

And now we see my second image. I’ll use this image as a texture to blend in with the original image. We’ll learn how to quickly blend images together at the end of this tutorial (texture photo from Adobe Stock):

The second image. Photo credit: Adobe Stock.

How To Move An Image Between Documents Method 1: Copy And Paste

The first method we’ll learn for moving images between documents is how to copy and paste an image from one document into another. To copy and paste an image, first select the document that holds the image you want to move. With the document active, select the image inside the document by going up to the Select menu in the Menu Bar and choosing All. To copy the image, go up to the Edit menu and choose Copy. Switch to the document where you want to paste the image. Then, go up to the Edit menu and choose Paste. The pasted image will appear on its own separate layer above the original image in the Layers panel.

Step 1: Select The First Document

Selecting the document that holds the image to be copied.

Step 2: Select The Image

To select the image itself, I’ll go up to the Select menu in the Menu Bar along the top of the screen. Then, I’ll choose All. This places a selection outline around my image, letting me know that the image is selected:

Step 3: Copy The Image

With the image selected, I’ll copy it to the clipboard by going up to the Edit menu in the Menu Bar and choosing Copy:

Step 4: Switch To The Second Document

Selecting the document where I want to paste the image.

Before I paste the image into the document, let’s first look in my Layers panel. The Layers panel is where we can see all the layers in our document. We’ll learn all about layers in other tutorials. For now, notice that the image is sitting on the Background layer. The Background layer is currently the only layer in the document:

The Layers panel showing the document’s original image.

Step 5: Paste The Image

To paste my texture image, I’ll go up to the Edit menu in the Menu Bar. Then, I’ll choose Paste:

Photoshop pastes the texture image into the document. It looks like my texture photo is now the only photo in the document. That’s because the texture photo is sitting in front of the portrait photo. Since both photos are the same size, the texture image is blocking the portrait image from view:

The “texture.jpg” image has been pasted into the “portrait.jpg” image’s document.

To confirm that the document does in fact hold both images, let’s look again in the Layers panel. This time, we see that we now have not one but two layers. The original portrait image is still sitting on the Background layer. And, Photoshop placed the texture image on a brand new layer, named “Layer 1”, above it. Sure enough, both images are now in the same document:

The Layers panel now showing both images in the same Photoshop document.

Resetting The Documents

So that’s the first way of moving images between documents. If you want to follow along with the next methods, you’ll first need to reset your two documents back to their original states. First, we’ll reset the document where you pasted the image. Make sure the document is still active. Then, go up to the Edit menu in the Menu Bar and choose Undo Paste. This removes the pasted image from the document, leaving you with just the original image:

Then, switch over to the document that holds the image you copied. To remove the selection outline from around the image, go up to the Select menu and choose Deselect. And with that, you’re ready to move on to the next method:

Method 2: Duplicating The Layer Step 1: Select The Document That Holds The Image To Be Moved

Selecting the document that holds the image to be moved.

If we look in the Layers panel, we see my texture image sitting on the Background layer. This is the layer we’re going to duplicate:

The Layers panel showing the texture photo.

Step 2: Select “Duplicate Layer” From The Layer Menu

To duplicate the layer, I’ll go up to the Layer menu in the Menu Bar. Then, I’ll choose Duplicate Layer:

Step 3: Set The Other Document As The Destination

This opens Photoshop’s Duplicate Layer dialog box. At the top of the dialog box, it shows the name of the layer you’ll be duplicating. In my case, it’s the Background layer. By default, Photoshop simply adds the word “copy” to the end of the layer’s original name. This will become the name of the layer (“Background copy”) when it’s moved into the other document. But you can give the duplicate layer a more descriptive name. Since this layer holds my texture image, I’ll change the layer’s name to “Texture”.

Setting the other document as the destination for the layer.

Step 4: Switch To The Other Document

And if we look in the Layers panel, we see my “Texture” layer, which holds my texture image, now sitting above the portrait photo on the Background layer. Both images are now in the same document:

The texture layer has been duplicated into the portrait document.

Related: How to open multiple images as layers in Photoshop

Resetting The Document

Again if you’re following along with each method, you’ll need to reset your documents before you continue. This time, the only document we need to reset is the one we moved the image into (in my case, the “portrait.jpg” document). To remove the duplicate layer from the document, go up to the Edit menu in the Menu Bar and choose Undo Duplicate Layer:

Method 3: Drag And Drop Between Tabbed Documents Step 1: Select The Document With The Image You Want To Move

Selecting the “texture.jpg” document.

Step 2: Select The Move Tool

To drag and drop the image, we’ll need Photoshop’s Move Tool. I’ll select the Move Tool from the Toolbar along the left of the screen:

Selecting the Move Tool.

Step 3: Drag The Image Onto The Other Document’s Tab Step 4: Drag From The Tab Into The Document

Keep your mouse button held down and your mouse cursor directly over the tab until you see Photoshop switch documents. In my case, I’ll wait for it to switch from my texture image to my portrait image. Then, I’ll drag the texture image from the tab down into the portrait document’s window:

Once Photoshop switches documents, drag the image into the document.

Step 5: Release Your Mouse Button

To drop the image into the document, I’ll press and hold my Shift key. Then, I’ll release my mouse button. The Shift key tells Photoshop to center the image within the document. If you don’t need to center the image, release your mouse button without holding Shift. If you look in your Layers panel, you’ll see that both images are now in the same document:

Hold Shift and release your mouse button to drop and center the image.

Resetting The Document

Let’s reset the document so we can move on to the fourth method. To remove the image that you dragged into the document, go up to the Edit menu and choose Undo Drag Layer:

Method 4: Drag And Drop Using A Multi-Document Layout

We’ve seen how to drag and drop between two tabbed documents. Now let’s learn how to drag and drop an image between documents using one of Photoshop’s multi-document layouts. We learned all about multi-document layouts in the previous tutorial.

Step 1: Select The “2-up Vertical” Layout

I’ll start by going up to the Window menu in the Menu Bar and choosing Arrange. From there, I’ll select the 2-up Vertical layout:

This places both of my documents side by side each other, allowing me to see both images at once:

Both images are now visible on the screen.

Step 2: Select The Move Tool

Next, I’ll select the Move Tool from the Toolbar:

Selecting the Move Tool.

Dragging the texture photo into the other document beside it.

Step 4: Release Your Mouse Button

To drop and center the texture image, I’ll press and hold Shift, then I’ll release my mouse button. Photoshop copies the texture image from its original document into the portrait document:

Dragging the texture photo into the other document beside it.

Step 5: Choose “Consolidate All to Tabs”

To switch your view from the “2-up Vertical” layout back to the default, tabbed document view, go up to the Window menu, choose Arrange, then choose Consolidate All to Tabs:

And now we’re back to the default view, with both images in the same document:

Back to the default tabbed document view.

Resetting The Document

Once again, to reset the document back to its original state so we can look at the final way of moving images between documents, go up to the Edit menu and choose Undo Drag Layer:

Method 5: Drag And Drop Between Floating Windows Step 1: Float All in Windows

To switch my view from tabbed documents to floating windows, I’ll go up to the Window menu and choose Arrange. Then, I’ll choose Float All in Windows:

Each photo appears in its own floating window.

Step 2: Select The Move Tool

Next, I’ll select the Move Tool from the Toolbar:

Selecting the Move Tool.

Step 3: Drag The Image Into The Other Floating Window

Dragging the image from one window into the other.

Step 4: Release Your Mouse Button

To drop and center the image inside the portrait document, I’ll press and hold my Shift key, then I’ll release my mouse button:

The texture photo now appears in both windows.

Step 5: Switch Back To The Tabbed Documents View

With both images now in the same document, I’ll switch from floating windows back to tabbed documents by going up to the Window menu, choosing Arrange, and then choosing Consolidate All to Tabs:

Both images are now in the same tabbed document:

Back to the tabbed document view once again.

Blending The Images Together

Now that we know how to move images into the same Photoshop document, how do we blend them together? At the moment, my texture image is completely blocking my portrait photo from view. To blend the two images, we can use one of Photoshop’s layer blend modes. I’ll go through this quickly here, but you can learn more about blending images in our How To Blend Textures With Photos tutorial.

If we look in my Layers panel, we see my texture image (on “Layer 1”) sitting above my portrait image (on the Background layer). The reason the texture is blocking the portrait from view is because the texture layer’s blend mode is currently set to Normal. The Blend Mode option is found in the upper left of the Layers panel:

The blend mode for the texture layer is set to Normal.

Changing the blend mode of the texture layer to Soft Light.

And here we see that just by changing the blend mode from Normal to Soft Light, my texture now blends in nicely with the portrait, creating an interesting effect. You can learn even more about blend modes, including tips for easily switching between them, in our Flip, Mirror and Rotate Designs and Patterns tutorial:

The result after changing the blend mode of the texture layer to Soft Light.

Where to go next…

And there we have it! That’s five easy ways to move an image between documents in Photoshop, along with a quick look at how to blend your images together using blend modes! In the next lesson, we’ll learn how to use workspaces in Photoshop!

You can jump to any of the other lessons in this Learning the Photoshop Interface chapter. Or visit our Photoshop Basics section for more topics!

How To Make A Logo Background Transparent In Photoshop

If you often work with logos for your business, you may at some point need to make a logo background transparent in Photoshop. Depending on the appearance of your logo’s background, you can do this a few different ways. 

Once you’ve removed the background from a logo, you can set the export settings so that it stays transparent and then add it to other projects or save it for future use.

In this guide, you’ll learn how to remove the background from your logo and export it properly, regardless of your logo’s background color.

Making A Solid-Colored Logo Background Transparent In Photoshop

Removing a solid-colored background from a logo is easy and only takes a few steps. After making the background transparent, you’ll learn a quick way to check that the edges of the logo are smooth and clean them up if need be.

Step 1: Select The Magic Wand Tool (W) Step 2: Set The Magic Wand Settings

Next, you’ll want to be sure the settings are set so that you’ll be able to select the entire solid-colored background area. 

Once you’ve selected the Magic Wand Tool, head to the Options Bar and change the following settings:

Check the Contiguous option

Set the Sample Area (3×3 works fine for selecting a background, but you may want to try higher options like 11×11)

Set the Tolerance between 10-40, depending on your image 

You can go back and edit these settings later to see how they affect the selection, particularly around the edges of your logo, as different settings here will result in slightly different selections. 

If you have parts of the background inside your logo – such as inside the center of a circle or letter – and you want to remove them, leave the Contiguous box unchecked, and the selection will be made around any pixels that match the background color. 

To keep those areas as part of your logo, ensure the Contiguous box is checked. The selection will only be made around pixels that match the background color and sit next to each other (like in the example below).

Step 3: Select The Background

Notice that the insides of the infinity sign in my logo are not selected because I have left the Contiguous box checked. Again, you can uncheck this if you’d like those areas selected as well.

Step 4: Add A Layer Mask

This will add the selection to a Layer Mask, which you’ll see beside the Image Layer in the Layers Panel.

You’ll see the Layer Mask has cut out the logo rather than the background on your document. 

You can easily invert the mask by pressing Control + I (Win) or Command + I (Mac), and the logo will reappear with the background removed.

Step 5: Clean Up The Selection

In the Options Bar, you can resize your Sample Size to Point Sample for the best possible accuracy.

Finally, with the Layer Mask selected in the Layers Panel, press Alt + Delete (Win) or Option + Delete (Mac) to remove these areas from your mask.

This will make those areas transparent, like the rest of your logo’s background. Deselect the areas by pressing Control + D (Win) or Command + D (Mac).

Step 6: Clean Up The Edges

Scroll through the tabs until you see Global Refinements. Here, you can adjust the Smooth, Contrast, and Shift Edge settings until the edges have a smooth rather than pixelated appearance. 

Each logo will require something different. I’ll increase the Contrast and Smooth settings for the logo I’m working with and decrease the Shift Edge setting. Subtle adjustments are usually enough.

The edges appear sharper after the adjustments than before.

Before After

Step 7: Save A Copy

In the Save As window, set the File Format to PNG.

Making A Multi-Colored Logo Background Transparent In Photoshop

When working with a logo with a multi-colored or patterned background, you won’t be able to simply use the Object Selection Tool or the Magic Wand Tool. Still, you can easily remove the logo from its background in a few simple steps using Channels.

Step 1: Select A Channel Step 2: Duplicate The Channel

You’ll see a copy of your chosen channel at the bottom of the list.

Step 3: Open Levels

Now you can open the Levels window using the shortcut Control + L (Win) or Command + L (Mac).

Drag the levels in so that the darkest parts of the image are 100% black and the lightest parts become 100% white. You don’t need to bring the levels to the center; if you do, the image becomes too contrasted, and the logo’s edges start to fray. You can leave them when the colors are 100% black and white.

Step 4: Select The Logo

This will create an active selection around the logo in the image.

Step 5: Add A Layer Mask

This will add a Layer Mask to the image, which you’ll see in the Layers Panel sitting to the right of the picture.

The document shows that the layer mask has cut out the logo.

You can invert the layer mask so that the logo, not the background, is visible by pressing Control + I (Win) or Command + I (Mac). You’ll see the logo in the document and the background transparent.

Step 6: Clean Up The Edges

There is one final step you can take to ensure that you’ve successfully removed all of the background from the logo.

Name the Color Fill Layer and press OK. The Color Picker window will appear. I’ll drag the toggle to white just to make sure the edges of the logo are neat and clean them up a bit if they are pixelated.

The new fill layer will appear in the Layers Panel and on the document on top of the logo. Drag the Color Fill Layer beneath the Logo layer, so the logo sits in front.

From here, scroll until you see the Global Refinements section.

The settings that will help fix the edges the most are the Smooth setting, which smooths out the pixelation, and the Contrast setting, which will increase the contrast along the edge. You can play around with these until you’re content with how the edges look.

Before After

Step 7: Save A Copy

Again, you can save a copy of your logo once you’ve finished working on it. This allows you to come back and continue working in Photoshop or use the logo in a future project.

Additional Export Options For Transparent Logos In Photoshop

In the Export As window, you can resize your logo by entering a new Width and Height in the Image Size section.

However, you can reduce the size as much as you’d like without compromising quality. This will allow you to save the logo and apply it to projects that require a smaller size, such as for the header of a website.

Finally, ensure the File Format is set to PNG and the Transparency box is checked.

Happy Editing!

How To Create A Watercolor Painting Effect In Photoshop

Written by Steve Patterson.

In this tutorial, we’ll learn how to easily turn a photo into a beautiful watercolor painting with Photoshop! To create the watercolor painting effect, we’ll use a few layers, filters and blend modes, and we’ll keep the effect fully editable using Photoshop’s Smart Objects and Smart Filters. This way, you’ll be able to go back and try different filter settings when you’re done to fine-tune the results for your specific image.

I’ll be using Photoshop CC but this tutorial is fully compatible with Photoshop CS6. If you’re using Photoshop CS5 or earlier, you’ll want to check out the original version of our watercolor painting tutorial.

This effect works best on images where rich colors and strong contrast are more important than fine details. Here’s the photo I’ll be using (still life photo from Adobe Stock):

The original image. Photo credit: Adobe Stock.

And here’s what the final watercolor painting effect will look like when we’re done:

The final result.

Let’s get started!

How To Turn A Photo Into A Watercolor Painting Step 1: Duplicate The Background Layer

If we look in the Layers panel, we see our image sitting on the Background layer, which is currently the only layer in the document:

The Layers panel showing the photo on the Background layer.

Dragging the Background layer onto the New Layer icon.

Release your mouse button, and Photoshop adds a copy of the Background layer, named “Background copy”, above the original:

The Layers panel showing the copy of the Background layer.

Step 2: Convert The Layer Into A Smart Object

Let’s convert our new layer into a Smart Object. That way, when we apply a filter to it, the filter will be applied as a Smart Filter. Unlike Photoshop’s regular filters which make permanent changes to the image, Smart Filters are non-destructive and fully editable, which means we’ll be able to go back and make changes to the filter settings if we need to.

Then choose Convert to Smart Object from the menu:

Choosing “Convert to Smart Object”.

It won’t look like anything has happened to the image. But if we look at the “Background copy” layer’s preview thumbnail, we now see a Smart Object icon in the lower right corner, telling us that the layer is now a Smart Object:

A Smart Object icon appears in the preview thumbnail.

Step 3: Make Two Copies Of The Smart Object

Making a copy of the Smart Object.

Making a second copy of the Smart Object.

We now have three Smart Objects, along with the original Background layer on the bottom:

The Layers panel showing three Smart Objects plus the Background layer.

Step 4: Rename The Smart Objects

Don’t press Enter (Win) / Return (Mac) just yet. Instead, press the Tab key on your keyboard to jump down and highlight the next Smart Object’s name. Change it from “Background copy 2” to Dry Brush. Then, press the Tab key again to jump down to the original Smart Object’s name and change it from “Background copy” to Cutout. When you’ve renamed all three Smart Objects, press Enter (Win) / Return (Mac) on your keyboard:

The three Smart Objects have been renamed.

Step 5: Hide The Top Two Smart Objects

Turning off the top two Smart Objects.

Step 6: Apply The Cutout Filter

Make sure that the “Cutout” Smart Object is selected in the Layers panel. As you may have guessed from its name, the first filter we’ll apply is Cutout. The Cutout filter is found in Photoshop’s Filter Gallery. Go up to the Filter menu in the Menu Bar along the top of the screen and choose Filter Gallery:

This opens the Filter Gallery, with a large image preview area on the left, a filter selection column in the middle, and the controls and options for the selected filter on the right. If you can’t see your entire image in the preview area, press Ctrl+0 (Win) / Command+0 (Mac) on your keyboard to choose the Fit on Screen view:

The Filter Gallery in Photoshop.

Choosing the Cutout filter from the Artistic category in the Filter gallery.

The Cutout filter options.

Step 7: Change The Blend Mode To Luminosity

Back in the Layer’s panel, change the blend mode of the “Cutout” Smart Object from Normal to Luminosity:

Changing the blend mode to Luminosity.

The Luminosity mode blends only the brightness values from the Cutout filter effect, allowing the colors from the original image on the Background layer to show through:

The first part of the watercolor painting effect is complete.

Step 8: Select And Turn On The “Dry Brush” Smart Object

Selecting and turning on the “Dry Brush” Smart Object.

Step 9: Apply The Dry Brush Filter

To add more detail to the watercolor effect, we’ll use Photoshop’s Dry Brush filter. Like the Cutout filter, Dry Brush is found in the Filter Gallery. Go back up to the Filter menu in the Menu Bar and once again choose Filter Gallery. Since the Filter Gallery was the last item we chose from the Filter menu, you’ll find it at the top of the list:

Choosing “Filter Gallery” from the top of the Filter menu.

Selecting the Dry Brush filter and setting its options.

Step 10: Change The Blend Mode To Screen Or Lighten

With the “Dry Brush” Smart Object still selected in the Layers panel, change its blend mode from Normal to Screen:

Changing the blend mode of the “Dry Brush” Smart Object to Screen.

The Screen blend mode lightens the overall effect:

The effect with the “Dry Brush” Smart Object set to Screen.

If you find that Screen makes your image look too bright, try the Lighten blend mode instead:

Switching from Screen to the Lighten blend mode.

With the Lighten blend mode, you’ll lose much of the brightening effect but you’ll gain detail. Choose the blend mode that works best for your image. In my case, I prefer the Screen blend mode, but here’s what the effect looks like using Lighten:

The effect using the Lighten blend mode.

Step 11: Select And Turn On The “Median” Layer

Selecting and turning on the Median Smart Object.

Step 12: Apply The Median Filter

The third filter we’ll use is Median, which will remove more of the detail in the image while keeping the edges of objects well-defined. Median is not found of the Filter Gallery. Instead, we access it by going up to the Filter menu, choosing Noise, and then choosing Median:

Setting the Radius value to 12 pixels.

Step 13: Change The Blend Mode To Soft Light

Finally, change the blend mode of the “Median” Smart Object from Normal to Soft Light:

Changing the blend mode to Soft Light.

And with that, we’re done! Here’s my original image once again for comparison:

The original photo once again.

And here, after applying the Median filter and changing the blend mode to Soft Light, is my final watercolor painting effect:

The final watercolor painting result.

Editing The Watercolor Painting Effect

And there we have it! Visit our Photo Effects section for more Photoshop effects tutorials!

How To Create A Signature Brush & Watermark In Photoshop

How To Create A Photography Signature In Photoshop

If you’re looking for the perfect way to watermark your photos, using your signature is a great option. It looks professional, simple, and, most importantly, unique to you! In Photoshop, there are a few different ways you can create a photography signature, whether you want a formal watermark or a signature brush. With the help of a sharpie and a smartphone, you can quickly create either option, even if you’re totally new to Photoshop!

In this tutorial, you’ll learn two different ways of adding your signature into photos in Photoshop. The first method will teach you to create a signature brush, while the second uses a PNG file to save as a watermark template.

That might sound a little complicated at first, but you’ll be amazed at how fast and simple this process is!

Let’s get started.

How To Create A Signature Brush In Photoshop

For this first example, let’s discuss how to turn your signature into a custom Photoshop brush. The best part about this method is that it’s easy to apply to an image or customize your signature later on. Following the steps below, you’ll be left with a new brush preset matching your exact signature!

Step 1: Write Your Signature On White Paper

First, you need to create your signature. Grab any piece of white paper and draw your signature with a sharpie. The goal here is to create a signature with thick lines, so it’s easier to select later on.

If you were to use something with a smaller tip, like a pencil, you wouldn’t end up with a good result.

Step 2: Take A Photo Of Your Signature With Your Phone

Now that your signature is written on the paper, it’s time to break out your phone. With the flash turned on, take a clear and sharp image of your signature written on the paper.

Try to make the signature as large as possible in your frame without cutting anything out.

The flash is useful because it adds more contrast between the white paper and the black sharpie. When it comes to edge selection, later on, this will make a world of difference.

You can take this picture with any camera, but your phone is likely the easiest way of doing things. If you want to break out your DSLR camera for this, feel free!

Step 3: Import Your Signature Photo Into Photoshop

Send your signature photo to your computer or share it with yourself using any of these apps.

Open Photoshop and press Command + O (Mac) or Control + O (PC) to open a file from your computer. Select your signature image from wherever it’s saved.

Step 3: Select & Cut Out Your Signature

To save the cutout as a brush, you need to first remove the background. Since there is a black signature against a white background, channels will be the best method to cut out the signature.

To make a selection, first, duplicate your specific channel by dragging it down to the new channel icon. In this example, I’ll duplicate the green channel since it has the most contrast.

With the duplicated channel selected, press Command + L (Mac) or Control + L (PC) to bring up your levels. Bring up the shadows slider and down the highlights. Continue this until your signature is completely black and the nearby surrounding area is completely white.

If there is any black or grey surrounding your signature, select the Brush Tool (B) and set white to your foreground color. You can then paint over any areas around your signature until it’s completely white.

This will create a selection around the black and white areas in your photo.

Going back to your layers tab, select your signature image and apply a layer mask. Your active selection will automatically be applied to the mask and cut out your image.

Now you’re left with your signature against a transparent background! Since you’ve successfully cut out your signature, it’s time to save it as a brush preset.

Step 4: Save Your Signature Cut Out As A Brush Preset

Name your new brush to whatever you’d like. I’ll keep it simple and call mine “Signature Brush.”

Step 5: Start Using Your New Signature Brush!

Now that your signature has been saved as a Photoshop brush, you can locate it within the Brush Settings panel. Opening this window, you’ll find it at the bottom of your brush list.

How To Apply Your Signature Brush Onto Photos

When you’re using a signature brush, you can customize the watermark’s color or size with ease. To scale the size, just press the [ or ] keys on your keyboard.

To change your brush’s flow or opacity, just use the upper settings bar while your brush tool is active.

You can then pick the color of your brush by setting your foreground color to anything you’d like. There are ways to change the color afterward, but we’ll discuss that in the next section.

To ensure you’re editing non-destructively, you’ll want to apply the signature brush onto a new layer rather than the image directly. This way, you can edit the position, size, or layer styles afterward if needed.

Start by creating a new layer above the image layer.

If you want to make adjustments to the position or size, grab the Move Tool (V) and adjust it as needed.

Now you have successfully added your signature onto a photo with Photoshop!

Customizing Your Signature

If you want to add further adjustments to your signature brush, such as drop shadows, gradient fills, glows, or change the color; you can do so using layer styles.

You can follow this same process with any of the adjustments found in layer styles. It’s a great option for making further adjustments to your brush if needed.

Saving Your Signature As A PNG Watermark In Photoshop

At this point, you know how to create a signature watermark in Photoshop, but perhaps using a brush isn’t your cup of tea. As an alternate option, you can save your signature as a PNG file that you can just drag and drop into your photo as needed. This is a great way of doing things if you couldn’t be bothered with applying a brush.

Here’s how to do it.

After you’ve cut out your signature using the previous steps, rather than saving it as a brush preset, we’ll save it as a PNG.

However, before you do, it’s a good idea to first fill your signature with a solid color.

Start by setting your foreground color to white.

Now instead of applying a signature brush, you can drag and drop this PNG signature into any photo. Best of all, you can still change this signature’s color using the layer style method you learned earlier.

This is a great alternate method if you prefer the simplicity of dragging and dropping your signature where you want!

So that is how to make a photography signature in Photoshop using a brush preset or a PNG image. Both options are fast and simple to use, but it just comes down to personal preference.

Unfortunately, there isn’t an option for exporting images with a watermark like there is in Lightroom. Instead, you’ll have to manually add your watermark using either of the steps you learned here.

Luckily once you first cut out your signature, the hard work is done, and you’re left with a photography signature that can be used indefinitely!

Happy Editing!

– Brendan 🙂

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