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Visual Matters: Layers

by | Jan 25, 2013 | Blog, Product Creation, Resources | 6 comments

Visual ImpactFor a long time, I was convinced I couldn’t do the whole visual, graphics thing.  I totally bought into an entirely manufactured belief that I suck at graphics.

I therefore avoided anything beyond text, and stayed within my comfort zone of expressing myself through words, rather than pictures.

Somewhere in the middle  of last year, while challenging the status quo in just about every area of my life, I tackled the pretty pictures phobia as well.

After an introduction to Pixlr (courtesy of my 12-year old daughter!), I embraced visual matters to the point where I created a package of 12 ebook covers.  Instant eBook Covers still sells today.

The point I want to make is that creating attractive visuals for your products is simply a matter of taking the time to get to know what certain tools can do, and then experimenting freely.

The Magic Of Composition: Layers

Meet my favourite  feature of Pixlr – layers.   Of course, layers are fundamental to graphics tools, and you can find them in pretty much any graphics program, including Photoshop (paid, requires installation on your computer), and GIMP (free, requires installation on your computer).  Pixr is free and web-based, requiring an internet connection during use.


Pixlr Layers: Each layer can be selected and be manipulated separately

The concept of layers is just amazing.  It basically means that you can layer one image on top of the other, yet have the freedom to work with each one independently, without affecting the other layers.

The simplest example is an image with text layered on top.  The image is in one layer, and text in a different layer.

You can freely move and edit the text layer around, while the background image, which is in a separate layer, stays put and unaffected.

Let’s say you wanted to add a box effect to the text.  You could simple add one more layer, in between the background image and the text layer, and in that layer, create a rectangle to position your text onto.  You can work on your rectangle layer, choosing a colour, transparency and position, until it is just right.

Simply select the layer you want to work on from the list of layers, and once it is highlighted you can play with it to your heart’s content.  In the above image, the deep red rectangle that acts as background to the title and subtitle is currently selected.

All the layers are listed, and by checking or unchecking the box for each layer, you can control which layer you want to see in the composite image, and which you want to turn off.  Unchecking the layer just removes it from sight, although the contents remain (until you actually delete it).

Layers are also perfect for the dithering, indecisive soul in you.  Simply duplicate the layer you are working on (right click, and choose duplicate layer), and un-tick the checkbox on the original layer.  Now you can mess around with the alternative look on the duplicate layer as much as you want.

If you like the outcome, keep the duplicate layer, and if not, just delete it, and restore the original by the checking the corresponding box.

Hours of fun (or indecision!) await you, should you choose to step into this magical world of visuals.  I hope to bring you more on Pixlr as I work on my next Kindle book, Fool-proof Kindle Covers.

What tool do you use for your product covers?