Friday, August 29, 2014

Not Using Layers. Is That Even An Option?

A buddy of mine is an artist.  A real artist, with paints and brushes and canvas and an easel and everything.  He's not exactly a dabbler.  Between his "collection" and his personal work he just sold one painting and went out and bought himself a new car.  The guy's pretty serious. He's been represented by some big name galleries and his personal paintings fetch four and five figure prices.  The reason I bring him up is that he once asked a fellow giving an Adobe Photoshop (PS) class if he always used Layers.  The guy looked at him like he was from another planet and simply said "yes".  My friend is a physical artist.  He has only one "Layer" to use.  The canvas before him.  The paint goes on in "layers", but "the Background Layer" never changes.  Here's something from YouTube showing someone producing an entire image digitally using only one Layer.  Obviously, it can be done.  I can't, but others can.  If I didn't have dozens of Layers, hidden behind multiple (and nested) Smart Objects, I doubt I'd be doing much more than making stick figures.  I've included a screen shot of the Layers Pallet for today's image.  Check it out by hitting the "Read More".

Do I use Layers?  Yea, for everything.  One thing to remember is that what you see to the left is only the Layers that are in the main Layers Pallet window.  Anything you see that has a Smart Object symbol (the little folded corner in the lower right) has multiple Layers beneath it.  Some of those would be Smart Objects with multiple Layers under them.  I've nested as many as five Smart Objects deep.  They look like Russian Nesting Dolls, one inside another inside another.  It keeps things organized and fully editable.

If you were to flip back a few (a lot) of posts you'd find a few images where the background is totally abstract, just shapes over shapes.  Several of those were done using Brushes made from images of clouds.  Every time I changed the color, every time I changed the form, every time I sneezed I added a new Layer.  If I had three different blue clouds, they were made into a Smart Object.  Once I had all the different colored clouds I put all the cloud Smart Objects into an overall cloud Smart Object.  It goes on and on, but I'm able to go back to the original construct and do whatever I want to it.  Once I've made the change (whatever it was) I'll go Save/Close Save/Close Save/Close all the way back up to the top set of Layers.  And, the changes will update all the way back up to the top.

Today's image comes from three separate shots and five different Brushes.  The dancer is one, the fire ring another and the elk antler is the third.  The brushes are the feathers, the star field, two sets of smoke and a set of cloud brushes for the trees/bushes.  The glow at her feet is a Gradient.

If I were a brush and canvas artist, could I create something that looks very similar to today's image?  Sure (if I were good enough).  Since it's more than a stick figure, I'm not good enough as an artist.  As someone who manipulates photographic images, I use Layers.  Lots of Layers.