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Advanced Layers in Adobe Photoshop

Lesson 6 of 7

Layer Comps

Ben Willmore

Advanced Layers in Adobe Photoshop

Ben Willmore

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Lesson Info

6. Layer Comps

Lesson Info

Layer Comps

So enough about blending sliders, I use them all the time, the blend-if sliders. Now let's look at other advanced features of working with layers. Let's say we have a client that hired me to replace the sky that's in here, cause that's what the original sky looked like in the area on the right. The main thing is the image was overexposed and the camera didn't capture enough detail to have color in the lower right. So I've already used the features that were taught in the session on advanced masking. To remove the background on these trees and if I turn off one of the layers that are here. Let's see if I turn this layer mask off, this is what it looked like when the background had been removed. Then I have different options in here for skies. There's one, here's a different one, here's third one, and a fourth one. And I want to present those to a client so they can see them, but I don't want them to see me playing in the layers panel where each time I turn one off you see a checkerboard...

, and then you turn another one on, and I have other fancy things going on in here, like I'm going to bring some of the original colors back in, a tip that I showed you when we in advanced masking. Anyway, I have a more complicated document that I want to show a client. I just somehow wanna present them with these options. So I'm going to use a feature called Layer Comps. If I go to the Layer menu, or the Window menu I should say, there's a choice called Layer Comps, and that causes this panel to come up. When I get my document set up how I'd like to show a client, I'll go to the bottom of the Layer Comps window and I'm gonna click on the little plus sign that's there to add a new layer comp. And when I create a layer comp I have the choice of what should I keep track of. Should it keep track of just the visibility of the layers that are in my layers panel? Should it also keep track of their position? So if I'm going to be moving things around I'd want that on. Should it keep track of layer styles? Which means bevel and emboss, drop shadows and things like that. Just in case I turn those on and off. In this particular case it's not gonna matter, but I can turn it on. And then this is a more advanced feature that we won't even get to in advanced layers, 'cause it has to do with smart objects in layer comps, and we're just getting into layer comps, so I'll leave that. But anyway, I'm gonna click OK. So now we have our first layer comp in the layer comps panel. Then I'm gonna change the appearance of my document by turning one layer off and turn the next one on. And I'll create another new layer comp and I'll just call that option two. Then I'll switch it again and create another layer comp called option three, and do it one more time. Now, if you look in the layer comps panel, you'll see the names of your layer comps. And over on the right side are those options that I had to choose from. You remember the check boxes? One was that I want to keep track of the layers visibility, and I had that turned on 'cause the eyeball shows up here. Another is, do I want it to keep track of the layers position. Well that's the move tool, so that's that. Did I wanna keep track of the layer styles, which would be the layer FX. And then the final one this looks kind of gray and that's because I didn't choose the bottom checkbox which had to do with layer comps used with smart objects. So here's the name of our layer comps. We can change the name at anytime. Just double click on the name, you can type in a different one. And then there's this little other column. In that column determines what layer comp we're currently looking at. So do you see this one here, that's what we're looking at. So what I'm gonna do is go down that column on the left side and I'm just gonna click on the other areas, like the one next to option three, and it's just gonna change which layers were visible, and I can go to the next one, and the next one to cycle through those four different versions of this document. So now I could hide my layers panel and just have the layer comps open when a client comes over. And I can say, well, what do you prefer option one, option two, option three, or option four. But then the client calls and cancels our meeting and they still wanna see this but I need to email it to them. Well if I go to the file menu, there should be a choice under export called layer comps to files. If I choose that, then it asked me where should I put it. I have mine set to my desktop. Where it actually looks a little deeper than my desktop. And then what should the file start with? Should it say new sky choices. Whoops, I didn't mean to click up there in the top. I have to fix that hold on. I accidentally clicked on the top and I got something typed in. Let me hit the browse button and choose my desktop. Cause if I had just some text typed in there it might not go in a reliable spot. Then this means, do you just wanna export one, which is the layer comp your currently looking at, or not. And I'm gonna leave that turned off so that I get a separate document for each file, and I can tell which file, and I can tell which file format to use, I'll just JPEG. So, now if I choose run, it's going to switch between all the different layer comps and it's going to save out a JPEG file of what each one looked like. And if I were go to and look at my desktop that's what I have right now, is four brand newly created files sitting there on the desktop. But maybe the client requested that he didn't want JPEG's, they wanted a PDF file. Well, there's also a chose of layer comps to PDF. And so here, it again asked me where would I like to save it. And if I want just the current layer comps or the ones that are selected, or not. And otherwise this would save out a PDF if I hit the run button. I'm not gonna actually run it though. So what might we use layer comps for? Well anytime you have a complex document. Do you remember this one? Well what if I wasn't sure about what pictures I was gonna be using for each one of these Polaroids yet. And I wanted to show somebody a bunch of different options. And so I have like five different choices for pictures for each one of those Polaroids. This would be a really complicated document and just finding what layer it would take to turn it on and off could be a challenge. Well, if I set it up once I save a layer comp. Then I can change the visibility of layers to swap out a different picture, add another layer comp, and I can easily then navigate that document using layer comps. Or more straightforward example might be a calendar. I want a layer comp for each month. And as I choose the different month, I want the text of the name of the month to change, which would just change which layer is visible because I have one layer for each month. And I want to change the picture that' up there. I'd just have 12 pictures and I'd be switching which ones visible. And then I would have the grid of numbers at the bottom that would needed changed. And that's what I have here. Here's January, February, and so on. So you can set that up in a single document. This is usually something somebody might set up as 12 different documents. But with layer comps we can easily save them right in the layer comps panel. If you later on decide you want to change things. Like change which picture is visible for December, I can right now turn off the eyeball for whichever picture that is. Turn on the eyeball for a different one. And if I did I would go to this layer comp in my layer comps panel. And if I right click on it, I can say update layer comp. Which means look at the layers that are currently visible. And I can also say only update the visibility and don't update the position, or just update position, that kind of stuff. So there's a lot we can do with layer comps. It all depends on what kinda work you do as far as how useful you'll find them.

Class Description


  • Add dimension and shadows using Layer Styles
  • Link multiple layers so they will always be scaled and transformed at the same time
  • Organize complex documents using Groups
  • Quickly remove the background on clouds, lightning, and logos
  • Cause bright or dark areas to disappear using the Blend If sliders


  • Beginner, intermediate, and advanced users of Adobe Photoshop.
  • Those who want to gain confidence in Adobe Photoshop and learn new features to help edit photos.
  • Students who’d like to take ordinary images and make them look extraordinary with some image editing or Photoshop fixes.


Adobe Photoshop 2020 (V21)

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