Released in June 2007, Adobe Photoshop: Layer Essentials with Matt Kloskowski is the new video training DVD for those who have experience with a recent version of Photoshop and want to learn how to unlock the power of Layers in CS3. It is hosted by Matt Kloskowski, one of the education and curriculum developers for the National Association of Photoshop Professionals, or NAPP. If you are not familiar with NAPP, please read my review on Photoshop User magazine, to gain more insight on what NAPP is all about, and why you might want to join.
Adobe Photoshop: Layer Essentials is contained on a single DVD that runs 181 minutes and can only be used on a computer based system. It is aimed at users new to Photoshop as well as those who have basic intermediate skills and want to move to the next level. The author goes over the material in 24 lessons which are divided into 3 sessions that will have you unlocking the world of Layers within Photoshop like a pro.
Lessons 1-3 cover Layer basics. Here you will learn what layers are, why you need them and what they allow you to do. You will learn how to copy images and how to stack your images to get the layering that you want.
Lesson 4 covers the use of Opacity and Transparency. Here you will begin to understand the transparency checkerboard symbols of the layers level and how you can use that, along with opacity to create effects with your images.
Lessons 5-6 cover working with the Layers palette and how to lock levels, locking image pixels, locking positions, and lock all. It also teaches you how to organize layers by renaming your layers, linking your layers, and layer groups.
Lesson 7 covers the use of Type Layers part 1. Here you will learn about the type tools especially the horizontal type tool. It is the type tool that you will usually use and you will learn how type creates its own layer.
Your bonus video focuses on the infamous "background" Layer. This is sometimes confusing to new users so you will learn how it works and what it means to you. You will see how to manipulate the background as well as how to get around some of the limitations.
Lesson 9 shows you how to use the Shape layer by using the differing shapes that are available in Photoshop and how they use vector images and can resize easily.
Lessons 10-12 explain Adjustment Layers and how that they can really give you a lot of flexibility with your photos. These can make non-destructive changes to your images. There is also an explanation on how you can use gradients to mix skies and land for proper output. You will also learn how instead of using a gradient, you use a brush for a different effect.
Lessons 13-14 work with Layer mask and how they can finesse the photo to exactly what you want. Layer masking is just an evolution of what you learned from lesson 12. You will explore all of the variations on how to mask your layers to get a just right image. Your bonus lesson is all about aligning your layers.
Lessons 15-16 dive into Photoshop Blending layers and modes. Blending works like opacity on steroids, you will learn how to use Blend modes to blend two pictures into one and how to use Layer Blend modes to fix photos.
Lessons 17-20, cover special effects such as working with Layer Styles. It covers Smart Objects which allow you to work on an object with and still undo the changes after it has been saved. Smart Filters, which are normal filter plug-ins that work on Smart Objects, are explained. And Clipping masks; that functionality that allows one layer to be overlaid on another, is examined.
Lesson 21 examines the topic of merging and flattening. In it you will learn what to do when your document is missing fonts, how to merge layers when they get too deep. It also explains about flattening the file by saving them as a non-layered file such as a JPEG file.
The final bonus lesson is on how to use Layer Comps to save multiple versions of your documents encased in one PSD document. These effectively allow you to save a snapshot of certain aspects of your document such as layer position, visibility and/or layer style to then call up at a later time.
Once again there is a lot of quality content in this focused three hours of video! Matt Kloskowski has put together a lot of powerful information within Adobe Photoshop CS3: Layer Essentials that will take your skills to the next level and have you really working like a pro.
The retail price of Adobe Photoshop: Layer Essentials is $69.99 USD. You can get it from PhotoshopTraining for $62.99 USD, an 11% discount, but for NAPP members it is only $54.99 a savings of 22%. There is an online version as well available from PhotoshopVideos, again $69.95 USD Retail and $49.95 USD for NAPP members.