There are two ways to get an element which is opened in one window transferred as a new layer to another window: (1.) Drag and Drop, or (2.) Copy and Paste. For both options, the first thing you need to do is check the size in inches AND the size in resolution of the two images. Dragging a 3 inch by 3 inch square element at 100 ppi to a 300 ppi canvas is going to make the element look 1 inch square. As Chris Ford told me, “You've got to make sure that the source resolution is the same as the destination resolution.” (You can check the size through “Image > Image Size.”)
Regardless of which technique you use, where the new layer will be placed -- in terms of over or under other layers already on the layout -- depends on which layer in the Layers Palette is currently active. (For example, if the very top layer is selected – which is your best bet – the new layer will then be the very top. BUT if you have 8 layers and the 2nd from the bottom is active, when you Paste/Drop, the new layer will be 3rd from the top and underneath 6 layers.)
Make sure that you make any changes to the image – color correction, basic cropping, red eye reduction, brightness/contrast adjustments, etc – BEFORE you copy or drag it onto a layout. Sometimes it’s easier to do some rough size alterations before you move the element, too – if you know you want your picture to take up the full length of an 8x8 layout at 300 ppi, but your picture is currently at 15 inches tall and 300 ppi – you might as well re-size the picture to 9 or 10 inches tall before you move it over. You’ll have an easier time adjusting it once it’s there.
1. For Drag and Drop, make sure that both images you will be working with (the element you want to drag over, and the layout canvas to drop TO) are open and minimized to the point you can see both well. (see picture at right for example.)
Make sure the Move Tool is the active tool from the ToolBox. Position the cursor over the element you want to move, click and hold, and drag away. Move the cursor over your layout canvas window, and drop there. As you are dragging you will notice the Move Tool’s cursor change when it goes off the original window and into the one you are moving to. You may also notice that the visible area of the window you are dragging to will highlight a little bit with a black line around the canvas area. Those are both just indicators showing you what you are doing. When you drag and drop, your element basically drops anywhere within the layout that you let go of the mouse, so make sure to hold the button down until you get to the place you want the element dropped.
If your element is on a transparent background, when you start to drag it, it will start to look like you are just moving it within that element’s box and you have dragged it beyond vision – don’t worry! As soon as you “drop” it in the other window, the element will look normal again in its original window. (picture at right shows the original photo as well as the dragged -- drug? -- photo on the white background of the layout.)
When you are working with a semi-transparent object (like a stamp or a medallion or whatever) it’s going to be hard to drag and drop without using the Bounding Box. (What’s the Bounding Box, you ask? Go back and read the Move Tool entry, then come back.) Your mouse has a hard time “grabbing” the element if the pixels aren’t solid, so for easy grabbing, go into the Move Tool and make sure the “Show Bounding Box” square is checked. Now when you click anywhere within the element’s Bounding Box – even in the transparent area where there are no pixels! – the element will be selected. Make sure you have the cursor INSIDE the bounding box to drag it (the cursor will look like an arrow head). If you don’t have your cursor inside the bounding box, you may accidentally rotate or enlarge your picture! (Remember – “Edit > Undo” is our friend.) If you get the error “Could not complete your request because the layer is locked”, this means that you dropped the element into its original file. It’s OK, though…just click “OK” and try again.
2. For Copying and Pasting: make sure both the layout canvas and the element are open so you can see them to work with. Click once on the element’s title bar to make sure it is the active window (or click one within the image for the same effect.) Hit “Ctrl+A” to “select all” (you will then see the “dancing ants” all around your image) or use one of the selection tools and drag around the area you want to copy, then hold down “Ctrl+C” to copy. Next, make sure the layout canvas you are pasting into is the active window by clicking once on it, and hit “Ctrl+V” to paste. The element will be automatically pasted in the center of your layout and you can position it from there with the move tool.
Copy and Paste works well when you are trying to just move a portion of the original file (ie. when you are trying to use just one letter of the alphabet and the designer has included them all together in one file, or when you have selected a portion of a paper to use).
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And there you have it. Whichever way you choose to move your elements to your layout canvas, it’s up to you! Do whichever you feel the most comfortable with, or find the easiest at the time. Sometimes I will go back and forth, using both methods, depending on the element and/or size.