Revision Date: 27 August 2015

Layers Window Components

The Layers Window provides shortcuts to the layers which make up an image.

Layers Window Layers Window

Think of layers in a multi-layered image as representing a stack of transparent sheets placed one on top of the other.  Image elements on lower layers will be obscured by elements contained in layers higher in the stack if the element is in the corresponding area.  For an in-depth discussion on this concept, please visit the Working with Layers section.

A new image is always created with a single layer named "Background". All images must have at least one layer.

The Active Layer

There is always one active layer. It can be identified by the highlighting in the Layers Window (the layer named "Lines" in the image above is the active layer).  Drawing operations are only applied to the active layer. No other layer will be affected.


It is vitally important to understand that drawing operations only affect the active layer. The active layer is highlighted in the Layers Window.

It is easy to shift the active layer status from one layer to another. Simply click on any layer's name in the Layers Window to apply the active layer status to that layer.  The active layer will be shown highlighted in the Layers Window (blue highlighting in the image below).

Changing the active layer Changing the active layer

Only one layer may have the active layer status at any time.


Assign any layer the active status by clicking on the layer in the Layers Window.

Layers can have their own blending mode and opacity settings. These are applied to every pixel in the layer.

Other layer options include whether a layer is currently visible or invisible (hidden).

Layer Window Icons

Add New LayerAdd New Layer

This adds a new, completely transparent layer to the image immediately above the active layer. The new layer will be given a generic name "Layer X" by default.  X denotes the layer number - hence it is always a unique identifier.

It is possible (and highly recommended) to change the default name to accurately reflect the contents of the layer (see Layer Properties below).

Delete LayerDelete Layer

This deletes the active layer from the image. As all images must have at least one layer, the last remaining layer cannot be deleted.

Duplicate LayerDuplicate Layer

This duplicates the active layer, including its contents and attributes. The new layer will be named uniquely following the pattern described above (Add New Layer).

Merge Layer DownMerge Layer Down

Takes the active layer and combines or merges it into the layer immediately below it in the Layers Window list.

Move Layer UpMove Layer Up

Moves the active layer one place higher in the layer order with each click.

Move SelectionMove Layer Down

Moves the active layer one position lower in the layer order with each click.


New to is the ability to change the order of the layers using drag-and-drop.  Click and "drag" any layer in the Layers Window to relocate the layer in the list.  Releasing the mouse button "drops" the layer in new location.


Quickly move a layer to the top or bottom of the layer stack using the Ctrl key.  Hold Ctrl and Click and on the Move Layer Up (or Move Layer Down) icon to send the active layer to the top (or bottom) of the list.

Layer Properties dialogLayer Properties

This icon opens the Properties Dialog for the active layer.

In this dialog the layer name, visibility, blend mode and opacity can all be set.  The same dialog can be opened by pressing the F4 key.

Layer Properties Window Layer Properties Window

Open the Properties Dialog for the active layer by pressing the F4 key or double-clicking on the layer name in the Layers Window.

For more information about Blend Modes, see the Blend Modes section.