Learn to take great photos


Instructor: Bev Pettit
One full month, 2 Lessons, 6 assignments

Learn how to take your photos to the next level. Using layers with Photoshop will open up a new world of possibilities with your images. We will take you through the concept of layers step-by-step and you will learn why they are so useful in unleashing your creativity. Once you start using layers you'll wonder how you ever got by without them! This course is aimed at the beginning student.

In this course you will learn what layers are, why you would want to use them and how to use them. You will also learn how and when to use the creative tools associated with layers such as masking, tonal adjustment and blending modes. You will learn to use layers to apply many creative effects such as toning, selective color, texture overlays and adding text to your photographs. There will be assignments to help you apply what you are learning in each lesson and instructor critiques on each assignment.


So what's the big deal about Layers? Well, they are probably the most useful tools in Photoshop. They enable you to edit your photo without changing your original at all. This is called "non-destructive" editing in the industry. Nondestructive editing allows you to make changes to an image without overwriting the original image data, which is important in case you want to revert back to the original. All of your retouching (cloning, healing brush, etc.) should be done on a separate layer to allow you the flexibility of going back and changing parts of your image when and if you wish.

Think of layers as transparent sheets of acetate or plastic that you can lay over the top of each other and over the original image. You can see through the transparent areas of each layer to the layers below. Each of these transparent sheets may have an item created on it or an adjustment made to it that will show through to the original image or layer beneath. Typically a layer affects everything that is below it in a layer stack.

What makes using layers so wonderful is that any change you make on a layer can be re-edited later. With layers you can always go back to the image and change, add or delete elements or objects or adjustments to the original and still have the original in tact. Say you want to change the overall color of your image, from black and white to sepia, for instance. If you add the sepia tone to your image, save your image and then someday want to go back to the image to darken or lighten the sepia tone or change your image to a different color, ore remove the tone, you will not be able to.

In a nutshell, the big deal about layers is that by adding a layer or layers over the top of your image and making your adjustments to those new layers you would be keeping your original in its original state. You would be working nondestructively by not "destroying" your original.

This course includes TWO LESSONS with SIX ASSIGNMENTS.


  • Layer Basics. What are layers?
  • Layers Palette Overview and Layer Types
  • Creating New Layers, Organizing and Managing your Layers
  • Apply color and tonal adjustments with Adjustment and Fill Layers
  • Exercises


  • Layer Masks: Working selectively on your images
  • Adjustment Layers and Painting on your Photograph using a Mask
  • Using Blending Modes
  • Working with Layer Effects and Styles
  • Adding Text to your Layers


  • This course was written using Photoshop CS3 and is compatible with any full version of Photoshop 7 or newer. A basic knowledge of Photoshop is helpful. This course is suitable for beginners.
  • This course also covers information Photoshop Elements users which outlines the areas of difference between full versions of Photoshop and Elements to aid in accomplishing the assignments and understanding the lessons. There will also be instructor help if needed for the areas discussed in the course. Elements users should already have a good general understanding of their version of the software.
  • You will need to have a library of photos that you have taken in the past and which you can use for the assignments. Or you may shoot new photos for the class if you wish.


  • On the course start date you will receive an email reminder when the lesson and assignment becomes available on the website.
  • This course includes two comprehensive lessons in PDF format with detailed instructions and assignments. You will have two weeks including two weekends to work on each assignment.
  • After completing each assignment you will upload your photos to the website.
  • Your instructor reviews your photos and offers constructive comments.
  • You can ask questions and discuss ideas with your classmates.


Course Overview
Price: $69
Includes 2 lessons & 6 assignments
Next session TBA

Your Instructor: Bev Pettit

Bev earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Minnesota, graduating cum laude in Art Education. After college Bev worked in fine art, technical and art education positions with a stint in teaching photography at a community college in California. Her work has received numerous awards and has been published extensively both in the US and internationally. www.bevpettit.com

Learn To Take Photos is an online photography school run by professional photographers. Our online photo courses are fun and motivating.