Taking Advantage of Fill Layers in Photoshop Elements - dummies

Taking Advantage of Fill Layers in Photoshop Elements

By Barbara Obermeier, Ted Padova

A Fill layer in Photoshop Elements lets you add a layer of solid color, a gradient, or a pattern. Like Adjustment layers, Fill layers also have layer masks, as indicated by the Mask icon thumbnail image in the Layers panel.

Just as with image layers and Adjustment layers, you can create as many Fill layers as you want. You can also edit, rearrange, duplicate, delete, and merge Fill layers. Additionally, you can blend Fill layers with other layers by using the opacity and Blend mode options in the Layers panel.

You can confine the effects of a Fill layer, as you can with an Adjustment layer, to a portion of the image. Make a selection before you create the Fill layer or paint on the mask later. Editing a Fill layer is similar to editing an adjustment layer. To edit a Fill layer, double-click the Fill Layer thumbnail in the Layers panel.

Here’s how to create a Fill layer:

  1. In the Photo Editor, in Expert mode, open an image.

    In this case, open an image that would look good with a frame or border or even some type. If you don’t have an active selection, the Fill layer encompasses your entire layer.

  2. Click the Create Adjustment Layer icon in the Layers panel; from the drop-down menu, choose a fill of a solid color, gradient, or pattern.

    You can also choose Layer→New Fill Layer and then choose a Fill layer from the submenu. In the New Layer dialog box, name the layer, leave the other options at their defaults, and click OK. Specify options such as Mode and Opacity within the Layers panel, where you have more editing flexibility.

    The dialog box specific to your type of fill appears.

  3. Specify your options, depending on the fill type you chose in Step 2:

    • Solid Color: Select a color from the Color Picker.

    • Gradient: Click the down arrow to choose a preset gradient from the drop-down panel or click the Gradient preview to display the Gradient Editor and create your own gradient.

    • Pattern: Select a pattern from the drop-down panel. Choose a value from the Scale drop-down menu, if you want. Click Snap to Origin to make the origin of the pattern the same as the origin of the document. Select the Link with Layer option to specify that the pattern moves with the fill layer if you move the layer.


  4. Click OK.

    The Fill layer appears in the Layers panel. Similar to what happens in Adjustment layers, a layer mask is created on the Fill layer. In the example, the words DOGGIE daycare appear in white on the layer mask, thereby allowing the pattern to show through. The remaining areas are black, hiding the pattern.

    If you want to delete the Fill layer, first select the layer in the Layers panel and drag it to the Trash icon in the Layers panel.

    [Credit: © iStockphoto.com/heidijpix Image #18772472]
    Credit: © iStockphoto.com/heidijpix Image #18772472

You can simplify a fill layer to convert it to a regular image layer. Choose Layer→Simplify. By doing so, you can use painting tools or filters on that layer.