What You Need to Know About Layers When Editing Your Photos

In the world of photo editing software, a “layer” often means different things to different programs. If you’ve been staying up nights wondering about layers, please, find something more important to worry about. But if you’re curious about what they are and how to use them to your advantage in Zoner Photo Studio, read on.


We are currently working on new article that reflects the news in Zoner Photo Studio X, especially the layers.

What’s a layer?

Think of a layer as a protective coating for your image. When you add a layer, it basically means you’re overlaying a graphical element (symbol, text, color, etc.) on top of your photo without permanently changing the underlying image (at least, not until you hit “apply”).

Before you save your photo, this layer is editable separately from the photo it is resting above. That means you can change key properties of the graphic in the layer, such as the opacity, without changing anything in the photo itself.

Why is this important?

Let’s say you want to add a caption bubble or a piece of text directly onto your image — and you foul it up. Working in layers allows you to undo those moves with no lasting damage to your photos. Simply clicking the “undo” button will reverse any changes you make.

An (admittedly crude) use of layers can spruce up even mundane images.

What can I do with layers in Photo Studio?

When you’re working in the editor, you’ll have four layer options: place text, symbol, shape or line. Each of these options will contain their own range of fine-tuning options which you can access conveniently on the right column. For instance, if you place a shape layer, you can give it one of 22 styles or “modes” (such as negative, burn, and pinlight) — each will be previewed on the shape itself as you select it, so you can experiment first without worrying about saving anything permanently.

When you add a layer, you’ll be able to make tweaks on the right hand column in this box.

Any layer you place on your image can be re-sized, have its color tweaked and orientation changed.

Layers are a great way to add a humorous element, a visible caption or watermark to your photo.

Anything else I should know?

Yes, think before you hit “apply.” Once you’ve saved (or applied) your layer, that’s it. There’s no going back. You can undo any edits you make to a layer before you hit apply, but after that the changes are permanent. To be safe, always work in a copy of your image, never the original. And have fun.

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Comments (4)

  1. OK but I hoped formore indepth information. Are more layers possible, can you arrange them, can yoiu choose layer to edit and that kind of stuff.

    1. Hello Nico, ZPS can work with only one temporary layer, so that probably covers the rest of your questions. After you apply this temporary layer, it immediately merges with the original picture. You can find some info also in this article: https://learn.zoner.com/master-the-blending-modes-in-zoner-photo-studio/

  2. Guys, you gotta give me more than 1 layer to work with. I’m trying to build up a composite picture from different parts multiple images. I have to calculate, in advance, which edit to do first, create a composite, add the next layer, create another composite, then add this final composite to the background on which I want it overlayed. If I get one element clashing with another, I got to go back and ‘re-create’ a fresh composite and come forward again, before I can make the final version. If it’s still not right, I have to go back and try again. It’s soooo frustrating. More layers, please.

    1. Thanks for your comment Ian, we really appreciate it. We can’t promise you anything, but we will get this idea to our developers. Thank you for your help.

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