I guess the learning curve can look disconcertingly steep for the first time user.
Things like the Healing brush can be set to work on Current, Current and below, or All by using the drop down in the Options bar. Same thing for the Clone tool.
You could think of layers like drawing on sheets of transparent plastic. The top most sheet will hide things drawn on underlying sheets where the top most sheet has been drawn upon.
You can turn layers off, and you can change their order in the layer's panel, just as if shuffling the imaginary sheets of clear plastic.
There some excellent tutorials here, but scroll on down to the Basics rather than start at the top of the list.
Good luck. You are setting out on a fantastic journey, and a journey where you will never stop learning new things.
Thanks for the quick reply! Yes it is going to be a very steep learning curve by the looks. And to be hung up on the very first thing I try? Very disheartening.
Anyway, back to this layer issue...I understand the concept of how layers work but they just don't appear to be working the way they are supposed to for me. It's like there must be some setting that I need to switch off or on somewhere. Excuse my ignorance but I am also struggling to find the Options bar. See screen dump below...is this it?
Normally presets will be listed in the image you posted when you select a tool. For example the crop tool will have multiple option in that list allowing you to easily choose from presets that you use all the time.
If this is blank no matter what tool you choose, it is possible the preference file is corrupted, but we can get to that later.
Lets work on your layers post your screen with the layers panel open so that we can see what is going on.
Besides what Trevor told you, you can also select multiple layers, if layer 1 and the background layer are selected then what you do will be applied to both of them, assuming it can do so. some commands can not be applied to a background layer as they may require transparency or features that are available to just layers. In that instance the background layer can be unlocked to gain access to those commands. Dragging the padlock to the trash can will unlock the background layer.
When using the spot healing brush take a look at the top tool bar and see if it will be applied to a single layer, all layers, etc like Trevor mentioned.
For the spot healing brush to do anything, you are either going to have to check the box to sample all layers or do your work on the background layer. However I think for the brush to work on the background layer you will need to change the background layer into a normal layer by dragging the padlock to the trash can (photoshop CC you can just click on the padlock)
As it is right now with top layer selected it has no data to work with.
Thanks for the reply.
OK so checking the Sample All Layers box fixes my problem regarding being able to use the spot healing brush on my layer 1. However, any changes I make on my layer 1 are also occurring on my background layer? I'm confused again. I thought you are only ever making changes on the actual layer you are working on. Essentially, my understanding of the background layer is it's there just to show your starting point and that it should never change. All changes you make are with your subsequent layers. Am I wrong?
Are you sure it is affecting the bottom layer? Click the eye to the left of the top layer to hide what is done. Is it the same or does it go back to the way it was? What is in the top layer would cover up the bottom layer making it look like it has been changed.
Aaaaaah thank you thank you thank you!!! NOW I get it. I hadn't even tried seeing what the eye did.
Sorry if you feel like you have wasted your time solving a ridiculously easy problem by a complete novice haha.
All sorted now. Thanks again
You're welcome and don't worry about it. It is all part of the learning process. If you don't make mistakes, you don't learn what to do to fix those mistakes.