Software: Ulead PhotoImpact 12
Author: MaryLou White
Home Page: Wishing Well Tutorials

Title: Working With Layers
Skill Level: Beginner

Description: Layers can be very confusing to new users. The way layers are used in PhotoImpact is quite different than the layers in other graphic programs such as PhotoShop and Paint Shop Pro. This tuturial will give you a basic understanding of what layers are and how they are used in PhotoImpact.

PhotoImpact 12 has several preset work modes. For this tutorial, we will be using the Full Edit mode so all of the tools in PhotoImpact will be available to you.

As you work, use your mouse to drag this along with you to mark your place.


Each object you make is automatically created on a new layer. Having objects on layers allows you to move the objects around and put them where you want them including below or above other objects.

The Layer Manager is located on the right side of the screen on the Panel Manager bar.

Download this small file and unzip. Open the file in PhotoImpact. We will use this to demonstrate how layers work. Next, double-click on the Layer Manager to open.

The view you see will depend on how you have the Layer Manager Thumbnail toggle set. The "long view" is on the left, the "condensed view" is on the right. Click the toggle several times so you can see the difference. Change the size of the thumbnail by clicking Thumbnail Size icon. Try several different sizes, then go back to the 48x48. Notice there is a separate thumbnail for each object in the image. This is because each object is on a different layer.

Let's go over some of the most used options on the Layer Manager.

  1. The Layer Manager and the Selection Manager share the same panel. The tabs on top allow you to switch from one panel to the other with ease.
  2. Select the Thumbnail Size Icon.
  3. This icon toggles the thumbnail display.
  4. This icon toggles the Global View. Click it and look at the bottom of the Layer Manager. You can also magnify the view or fit a very large image into the smaller window.
  5. When items are grouped, this icon displays the objects as either single or grouped objects.
  6. Thumbnail menu commands - Click the icon to review the options. We will not cover these options in this tutorial.
  7. This is the tool panel for the Layer Manager where you can set your preferences.
  8. The X lets you delete a selected object(s).
  9. Shows the width and height of each individual object when it is selected in the layer manager.
The remaining options, including the mode and transparency options, are beyond the scope of this beginner tutorial.

Click on the various icons to become familiar with their functions. Decide which display mode and size suits you the best. Next, we'll look at some of the icons that are associated with each object before going on to the exercise.

  1. Notice the Eye icon. Click on it to hide this object in your image. Click again to re-display.
  2. The Lock will keep an object from being moved. The lock icon only displays when an item is locked. Click it and see.
  3. The small colorful icon indicates the object type.
  4. The Z indicates if an object is merged or not.
  5. PhotoImpact automatically generates a name for each object.


You will use the objects shown below and the layer manager to put the objects in the correct order as shown in the finished jar.

Rename each of the objects to something more meaningful. Do this by double-clicking on the existing name, delete old name (backspace) and type in new name.

Move the objects into place using the Pick tool. The end result should look like the finished jar above. You will need to drag some items either up or down a level in the layer manager to get them in the right place. Notice as you click on each object in the layer manager, that object also becomes the selected object(it has selections lines around it). The Base Image will always be on the bottom (the lowest level) because it is the background for the objects. If you did it correctly, your images will be in the following sequence in the layer manager:

Save your image before the next step if you are doing this for the Beginner's Workshop.

You can also use the arrow tools on the menu bar to move objects up and down rather than opening the layer manager. Click on the lid of your jar to select it. Use the arrows to move it down one level so it is behind the shadow. Then move the nob all the way to the bottom layer. Experiment a little with the arrows to become familiar with their use. Do not save this image.

You will find the Layer Manager to be a very useful tool, especially when creating graphics with very tiny parts.

You're invited to join the PIRC Fourm! This is an active PhotoImpact Forum where you'll find a wonderful group of warm, friendly, talented, and knowledgeable people who are ready and willing to share their expertise with you. There are creative activities for all levels of PhotoImpact users. This forum is 100% free and everyone is welcome.

Copyright© MaryLou White.
This document may not be translated, duplicated, redistributed or otherwise appropriated without permission.