Changing the Layer Order

The layer stacking order determines which layers are on top of others, and plays a big role in determining how your image looks. As you build a composition, you may find that you want to change the layer order, either to help you work more easily on a particular layer, or to get a particular result or effect. The actual, visible overlapping of elements is determined by the layer order, so you may find that you need to reorder layers frequently when you work on complex images.

There are two main ways to change the stacking order of your layers. The most common and versatile approach is to drag the layer wherever you want in the layer stack within the Layers palette. The second way is to select the Layer > Arrange menu and then choose commands such as Bring to Front and Send to Backa method similar to what you use to arrange objects in a drawing program.

To change the layer order by dragging


On the Layers palette, select the layer you want to move.


Drag the layer up or down in the Layers palette (Figure 5.13).

Figure 5.13. Drag a layer either up or down on the Layers palette to change its stacking order.

You will see a thick double line between the layers, indicating the new layer position.


Release the mouse button when the layer is in the desired location.

To change the layer order by arranging


Select the layer you want to move on the Layers palette.


From the Layer menu, choose Arrange, and then select one of the following options from the submenu; or use the keyboard shortcuts noted for each (Figure 5.14).

  • Bring to Front (Shift+Ctrl+]) moves the layer to the top of the Layers palette and the image (Figure 5.15).

    Figure 5.15. The Bring to Front command moves the layer to the top of the palette and to the top level in your image.

  • Bring Forward (Ctrl+]) moves the layer up by one step in the stacking order (Figure 5.16).

    Figure 5.16. The Bring Forward command moves the layer up just one level.

  • Send Backward (Ctrl+[) moves the layer down by one step in the stacking order.

  • Send to Back (Shift+Ctrl+[) makes the layer the bottom layer on the Layers palette.

Figure 5.14. You can also change a layer's position using the options on the Layer > Arrange menu.

You can also Shift-click to select two layers in the Layers palette, and select Reverse to swap their order in the layer stack.


  • If your image contains a background layer and you choose the Send to Back command, you'll find that the background layer stubbornly remains at the bottom of your Layers palette. By default, background layers are locked in place and can't be moved. To get around this, just double-click and rename the background layer to convert it to a functional layer. Then you can move it wherever you like.

Photoshop Elements 4 for Windows. Visual QuickStart Guide
Photoshop Elements 4 for Windows (Visual Quickstart Guide)
ISBN: 0321423356
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2003
Pages: 178 © 2008-2017.
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