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How to Convert a Background into a Layer in Photoshop CS6

On occasion, you may need to convert a background into a layer when you create a new image in Adobe Photoshop Creative Suite 6. If you create an image with white or background colored contents, scan an image into Photoshop, or open a file from a stock photography CD or your own digital camera, basically, you have a file with just a background.

An image contains at most only one background, and you can’t do much to it besides paint on it and make basic adjustments. You can’t rearrange the background in the stack of layers — it’s always on the very bottom of the Layers panel. You also can’t change the opacity or blend mode of a background. What you can do is convert a background to a layer.

To convert a background into a layer, follow these steps:

  1. Double-click Background in the Layers panel.

    Alternatively, you can choose Layer→New→Layer from Background. Note that Background is italic in the Layers panel.

    [Credit: © Image #15160833]
    Credit: © Image #15160833
  2. Name the layer or leave it at the default name of Layer 0.

    You can also color-code your layer in this dialog box or by selecting Layer Properties from the panel menu. Color-coding your layer just makes it stand out more noticeably in the Layers panel.

  3. Click OK.

    Photoshop converts your background into a layer, as indicated in the Layers panel. Note that the layer name is no longer italic.


    When you create a new image with transparent contents, the image doesn’t contain a background; instead, the image is created with a single layer. You can also convert a layer into a background by selecting it and then choosing Layer→New→Background from Layer. However, this option is available only when no background exists.

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