Q: I need to keep turning off and on the visibility of a reference layer. Is there a shortcut to hide and show a layer?
A: If the layer is the active one and you have a non-painting tool selected, you could use these shortcuts: Tap 00 on your keyboard to change the layer’s Opacity to 0%, and tap 0 to change its Opacity to 100%. If you’re working on one layer and want to hide and show a different layer, however, these shortcuts won’t work. In that case, you could record two actions to hide and show the other layer using F-key shortcuts. To create an action, go to the Actions panel (Window>Actions), and click the Create New Action icon at the bottom of the panel. Give your action a name, select the Set in which you want it to appear, select a Function Key, and click the Record button.
Your first action (to hide the layer) would include these steps: Click on the reference layer (that you want to hide), turn off the layer’s visibility by clicking its Eye icon in the Layers panel, and then click on the working layer. Click the Stop Recording button (square) at the bottom of the Actions panel.
Then, record a second action with a different F-key to include these steps: Click on the reference layer, turn on the layer’s visibility, click on the working layer, and then click Stop Recording.
Now, as you’re working and want to hide the reference layer, press the F-key for your “hide” action, then press the other F-key to show the reference layer. Keep in mind that you may need to hold the Fn key on your keyboard to override the OS functions when using the F-keys in Photoshop.
Q: I want to add a logo to a shirt and make it look as if the logo is following the creases in the shirt. How do I do that?
A: The answer is a filter called Displace. In order to use that filter, you’ll first have to create something called a displacement map: a separate file that the filter will use to displace the pixels (in this case, to make the logo look like it’s following the folds in the shirt).
The simplest way to create a displacement map is to duplicate the document (Image>Duplicate) and save it as a PSD file (although it’s not necessary, you may want to add “map” to the filename to make it easier to find). The Displace filter shifts a selection using a color value from the displacement map: 0 is the maximum negative shift, 255 the maximum positive shift, and a gray value of 128 produces no displacement. Often, it can be useful to add a very slight blur to the map document so that the edges of the logo don’t look jagged (due to the texture in the shirt).
Drag the logo into the T-shirt document and convert the logo to a smart object (Layer>Smart Objects>Convert to Smart Object). From the Filter menu, choose Distort>Displace. In the Displace dialog, enter these settings: Horizontal and Vertical Scale: 10–20 (you can edit this setting later). Since you’re using the “same” photo for your map, the settings for Displacement Map and Undefined Areas are irrelevant. Check Embed File Data in Smart Object to make sure that you never “misplace” your displacement map. Click OK. Navigate to the displacement map image you saved earlier, and click Open.
If you need to reposition the logo or want to try different settings in the filter, double-click on the filter name in the Layers panel, enter new settings, and choose the displacement map again.
Depending on the shirt color and logo design, you may want to change the logo layer to Multiply blending mode (near the top left of the Layers panel).
Q: Is there a way to apply Dehaze to one layer?
A: Yes, you can apply Dehaze to a layer by using the Camera Raw Filter. To give yourself the most flexibility with the filter, first convert the layer to a smart object (Layer>Smart Objects>Convert to Smart Object). Then, use Filter>Camera Raw Filter, choose the settings you want for Dehaze (as well as any other Camera Raw settings you wish to use), and click OK. If you want to adjust the filter settings, double-click on the filter name in the Layers panel, edit the settings, and click OK.
Q: I need to add a drop shadow to a subject in a JPEG photo. Is that possible?
A: Not directly, but there’s a way to achieve it. In order to add a drop shadow to a subject, the subject must be on a transparent layer. Try a command such as Select>Subject to make a selection of your subject, then go to Select>Select and Mask to fine-tune your selection. Once you’re happy with the selection, choose Selection in the Output To drop-down menu in the Output Settings section near the bottom of the Properties panel, and click OK. Press Command-J (PC: Ctrl-J) to put the selection onto its own layer. Then, from the ƒx menu at the bottom of the Layers panel, choose Drop Shadow.
If you’d like to be able to hide the shadow in certain areas, you can separate the shadow onto its own layer (but the Drop Shadow settings will no longer be available). To do this, Right-click on the words “Drop Shadow” in the Layers panel, and from the pop-up menu, choose Create Layer. Then, click on the Drop Shadow layer in the Layers panel to make it active, click the Add Layer Mask icon (circle in a square) at the bottom of the Layers panel, and use the Brush tool (B) to paint with black where you want to hide the drop shadow.
Q: I’ve noticed that the Properties panel sometimes shows “Quick Actions.” What are these for?
A: Quick Actions are context-sensitive shortcuts that will vary depending on the current state of your document, layer, or the tool you’re using. For example, when you first open a JPEG, you’ll likely see choices such as Image Size, Crop, Trim, and Rotate. Click these buttons to open those commands rather than going to a menu or pressing a keyboard shortcut. If you unlock the Background layer, the choices will change, typically giving you buttons for Select Subject and Remove Background. While many of the Quick Actions are the same as using a keyboard shortcut, some, such as Remove Background, run a couple of steps such as Select Subject and Add Layer Mask.
Q: Is it possible to tell Photoshop to move a layer a specific number of pixels in a specific direction?
A: Yes, you can do this by using Free Transform (Command-T (PC: Ctrl-T)) and then entering a value in the X and Y fields in the Options Bar. You have two options: Tap on the triangle between the X and Y fields to use relative positioning (putting both fields to 0), or click after the current number in X or Y and typing in + (plus) followed by the number of pixels you want the layer to move. Use – (minus) to move the layer in the opposite direction.