Pixelmator tutorial - layers and layer masks

What are layers?

In Pixelmator you can use layers to sperate different parts of an image. You could for example have a blue background layer and then seperate layers for clouds and the sun. You would be able to edit each part seperately.



View layers

1. Create a new blank image (click here for help)


2. Ensure the Layers palette is open (top View menu) ..


You will see a single transparent Background layer ..



Create a second layer

1. Click on the "+" at the bottom of the palette to create a second layer ..



Fill the layers with colour

1. Select Edit>Fill ..


2. Drag across the colour palette window to select a colour then click "OK" to fill the layer with colour ..


3. Select the other layer and fill it with a different colour ..

The bottom layer (Background) will be obscured by the upper layer.



Change layer opacity

1. Click on the upper layer and drag the Opacity slider to 50% ..

The top layer will become 50% transparent and the colours will merge together. Put it back to 100%.



Create a layer mask

1. We can use a layer mask to allow some of the background layer to show through. This method does not alter pixels in the top layer, it just turns them off temporarily.

With the top layer still selected, go to Layer>Add Layer Mask ..


2. Ensure the new layer mask is selected by clicking on it (it should be selected automatically).


3.Select the Brush tool (press the "B" key) and then choose a brush size and style from the Brush palette ..


You can only paint in black, white or grey on a layer mask. Paint on the image. The background layer will start to show through ..

Notice how your brush strokes show up on the layer mask thumbnail in black ..

Top tips ..



Clear a layer mask

1. Select the layer mask by clicking on it then choose "Select all" from the top Edit menu to select all the pixels in it ..

Now press backspace to clear everything you have drawn in the mask.


2. To deselect all the pixels in the layer mask choose "Deselect all" from the top Edit menu ..



Create a gradient mask

1. Select the layer mask of the top layer by clicking on it ..


2. Choose the Gradient tool in the tool bar palette ..


3. Choose a black and white gradient in the Gradient palette and select "Linear" ..


4. Click and drag across the image ..

Notice how the gradient appears in the layer mask ..