Skip to main content

Layer Comps & Shape Options

Lesson 10 from: Everyday Adobe Photoshop: From Workflow to Smartflow

Dave Cross

buy this class


Sale Ends Soon!

starting under


Unlock this classplus 2000+ more >

Lesson Info

10. Layer Comps & Shape Options

Lesson Info

Layer Comps & Shape Options

Here's another thing is I'm going starting off with a couple of things have actually been around photo shop a long time, but for whatever reason they are not commonly used, and I don't understand why, because I think it's really interesting I'm going to start off with this example, but we'll talk more about what this does. This is a function and photo shop called layer camps and the idea of layer compasses often we get ourselves into a situation where we have multiple layers in a document, whether they're graphic players like this or adjustment layers or whatever it is, and we want to be able to very quickly look at and work with different combinations. So for example, in this case, I've got, you know, three photos and embellishment on here, and I want to be able to say what it looked like if I didn't have that one photo or if this photo was up here in that photo was down there. So imagine that this ridiculously gorgeous couple of models at a workshop because this I wish this was a rea...

l wedding, but there was yeah, it was like the best you know, if you ever want a wedding photo, this was the work job to go to because was like, amazing place in miami with an old rolls royce and two gorgeous people and beautiful sunlight anyway so I want to show them okay, I'm working on an album page I want to show you some variations well without layer coms what I'd have to do is ok, so one option would be to not have this photo and have this photo down here instead and maybe this photo over here overlapping and not have that floral thing and they're looking over my shoulder as I do this and they go ok, can you show me the first one again? I'm like sure let me put that back on and move this back here and remember where that wass and what else oh yeah there was this other layer there ok, go back to the other one I mean I mean you get the point that just tryingto go between them is a whole lot of move hide show whatever what a layer comp does it allows you to record in a sense a snapshot of what your current situation is so the layer cause panel if it's not showing I think mine probably is. But if it's not this is what it looks like at first on this one of the reasons I think people don't use it because they go toe layer constantly see is an empty thing saying last documents state it's like ok, but one of the things we'll accept remember about photo shop is any time you see the little turning page icahn that means you can make a new one of whatever it is in this case a new layer comp so I'm going to click on that and see what it gives me and it says new layer calm and asked me to name it and like a lot of things and photos audio I would not go with the default name of layer comp one because that would not be terribly helpful I'm going to call this all layers and you'll see what it's asking me is would you like me to remember visibility, position and appearance? I eat layer style and in this case I'm saying yes to all three so is going to remember where my layers are and what they look like and whether they're showing or not and you can add comments if you want that's just for your own use I'm not going to bother in this case and I click ok so this point I haven't done anything different because it's still showing me the same layout but now I want to do what I just did a moment ago which is to say ok let's hide that layer and take this layer and dragged her down here take this layer put him up there and let's keep the floral thing but lower the opacity of a whole lot like that so now I had a new layer comp and I call it two photos um, lower opacity, floral. I like to use names that are at least this descriptive as I can in the space available. I never used to do that. I used to call them like one, two, three, four. But that wasn't very helpful. So you click ok and then let's make one more where we don't have the floral and we say but let's make the background layer eight black, unlike photograph so they go back to the layer comes to make one more call it black and white two photos and needles to say you could make a cz many of these as you want. But imagine the same scenario where the couples looking over my shoulder and I want to show them different options. That of me having to go move, move, move! All I do is I click on a button. Go here's one option here's a second option here's a third option. Not great. I mean, think about the alternative me going move! Turn on, turn off, then trying to remember wait. That was what? Two layers and so layer camps and the one of the great things about these visits built into the document at all is his instructions. All it's doing is when I click this button it's putting things back the way they were at that moment in time. Now this time you problems your last time when I know that you probably were watching the image screen this time watch the layers panel and you'll see as I click on these things it's actually turning layers on, often adding adjustment, layers and whatever else I need turning them on and off. So that's the benefit of this the only thing that the catch to this and I think you have to remember and a lot of people get caught on this is if you're thinking, oh, I'd liketo have one layer comp where that floral thing was really big and a second one where it was smaller and turn the other way. You can't do that because the layer comp remembers that one layer, and if I then make the floral things smaller, it's smaller on every layer on every layer comp so if I wanted to sizes of something, I'd have to duplicate it, make a second one that was smaller and rotated if I wanted ah photograph to be smaller and vigor, that would mean to photograph so any situation where you're changing things like size or color or anything like that that requires you to make another version of it, so layer comes to remember position, visibility and layer cell not appearance in the sense of content. So in other words, if I had a type player and I want to change the font on one layer calm, I'd have to have to type players, so you know that that that works that's the one part that often throws people off is they add some cool type, I think I'll make a different one, and they redo the type, and suddenly it looks different on every layer, compal, that's the way it does work, because it's recording whatever layers there. So, for example, let me just do that. If I wanted another floral thing that was small, right have to duplicate it and then take something like free, transform and make it smaller and maybe rotated this way and put it over here. Now, I have two versions to pick from for any layer company. If I simply made the first one smaller, it would be smaller on every layer compound that's the one part that often throws people off, but the beauty of it is that's all you have to do, you don't do anything else to say, ok, now that I've done that, I have to save it differently, or remember it's just built into your photo shop document, and this is great for not only things like laying out a series of layers and deciding between different options I know a lot of web designers mock up a website in photo shop and now instead of having five separate documents they have won with layer comes to go first page about us history whatever it is there's lots of different ways you can use it and even a simple as I've got a photograph and I want to try different combinations for black and white so I don't want anyone to think this is on ly useful if you're creating something that is multiple layers it could be something as simple as this I want to turn this into an interesting black and white so first let's add a black and white adjustment for now I'm just going to go with the defaults on everyone just to kind of show you the idea and then also do hugh saturation and saturation little bib that and maybe one other one like um grady and map okay, so now I have three adjustment as I didn't deliberately didn't go into any time adjusting them but now I could but now the difference is I could make a layer comp that was all three I could make a second layer comp that was these two third layer compton was just that one fourth layer comp was that one and that one so now as I'm trying to look through them instead of me having always go show hi choco hi! Hi choco now I just have layer comes that I can kind of scroll through and go because I find one of the recurring themes for me and photo shop is sometimes if I stare it something too long, I just can't decide anymore, so I'd like to add a bunch of adjusting layers have some layer calms saving, close the file on leaving and the next day come back and now just go layer complex, complex couple air company, look through them and see what options kind of I like that one so that's a layer calms could even be a simple is that doesn't have to be logos and layers, and all that thing could just be a simple as a different combination of showing different layers. What is also interesting, I think, is that when I clicked on that a new layer comp button, you know it's it's one of the options for it to remember is appearance bracket layer style. This is one of the not obvious things about layer styles. Layer stiles is not just drop shadow stroke, it's also capacity blend mode, blend if sliders so you could even make a layer camp where you had blend of sliders applied to make something kind of that funky see through or not. And that we could also make that part of the equation so I think a lot of people mistakenly interpret layer style just meaning they think drop shadow stroke in boss all those things that about it's not it's also opacity blend mode phil opacity all these different things that anything that's in that giant dialog box khun b as part of this so even if you're just tryinto decide I want to experiment with different levels of opacity or different blend modes that's always been one of my beefs is when you want to look a different blend most you have to go back to mention to multiply now I could make four layer camps one that's called multiply one that's overlay one whatever it is so it just that's all built into the way later cops work dave's heir question from the internet side would like to know do layer cops save in as part of the file? Yes, as long as you save as a you know what? P s yeah now it probably I may even say was part of a tiff, but yeah, that's and one of the other nice things is it doesn't add anything in terms of overhead because it's just a little text thing that says do this so you could have twenty seven layers and fourteen layer cops in those fourteen layer cops are not going to really cause any trouble to you in terms of file size so that's one of their many, many benefits at a certain point, you may decide. Ok, now I've narrowed it down and I've decided the's air the two or three layer camps that I want. Now I want to actually create versions off them. You could either go to layer cops and say, show this one, and then save as and then show this one and save as which you could do if you had fourteen of them might take a little longer, so they're one of the built in options in photo shop was kind of interesting. Is there's actually a script that says turn my layer comes it either separate files or a pdf file, so it automatically says, take each one of those layer camps and turn them into either a syriza, separate files like j pegs or a pdf file. So if I want to send maybe these this couple isn't here to look over my shoulder, I want to show them. Here are the five versions of this layout for you. I could send them pdf file in and say we like page three and I know to come back to this one and adjust accordingly, not that I know anything about what's coming, but if I had to guess I would say layer comes might be getting even better possibly I don't know I'm just speculating completely but you know it's been a while so maybe it's time for some new things with later pumps up save into a dnc or not no on lee it's has to be it's a ps the evolution I mean it's a layer function so therefore has to be part of a psd file you know go ahead minds a little well yeah my other questions a little bit delayed but and related one of the things that adobe has said is that an advantage of of saving as a d n g is that if your catalog file becomes corrupted that your keywords and everything are still it's still going to be with the dmg is there any other way to accomplish that with a with other final file formats unfortunately well sort of because all that stuff is like metadata all those things that are remembering like he words so that in photo shopped there is you khun technically apply a meta data template to certain file format so at least put some of that stuff in but that's more of a light room bridge kind of you know, indexing thing so files like a photoshopped document would wouldn't have as much although it's quite I haven't really had the need to try it so the metadata temple it might actually be able to accomplish some of that and that that means it's something you pre created or you can just go into I think it's file info I think it is remember now yeah so in here you can see there's quite a few things so you can put in some key words to this psd file as well and if you had a template created say with all your stand information like copyright information so on that could be applied to your psd file as well but you have to do it you have to do a separate batch operation or something here yeah I mean it's not it's not there's no way to pull in a side car because it's from a photo shop standpoint it's sort of a not as commonly used whereas metadata is just built in tow raw files and dmg files by nature but not by nature here okay do you have a question there he says I love these layer cops and I see what you're doing on the page can I ask you maybe it's a little off topic I just want to see if there was a quick way your quick way of adding like I guess smart objects to this page because I see that you added strokes and then the same size I know I would do it is to know well that's basically all I did is one of the the recurring themes that we have to remember about photo shop is that luckily there are a few things you can assume and one of them is let me take these away so the way I did it frankly was I on one photograph I added a stroke layer style that was like three pixels inside white whatever clicked ok and then said I also wanted on these twos I held down option or alternates went add to here and add to their okay now later on today and we talked about groups the only downside to this is now I have three layer styles that looked the same are but are edited independently in other words I couldn't now and it all three on the fly because they're separate there is a way where you could decide to do it slightly differently where that now you could say now that done that I want all three layers toe have a thicker stroke or a different color this way happens to be convenient for my purposes when I'm building it this way there are other ways to do it as well and how about the size? Because they're all the same the size was just me preplanning why put the first one in and you'll notice that these other two photographs actually have a layer mask which is the same size is this photo so what I did was I put this photo in first and then there's a way where you hold down command or control tow load that layer of this election then I clicked on the other layer and took that and dragged it over and said make layer mask so that way I knew that the sizing was the same in part because when I looked at the photographs initially I thought if I resized them all the same they will kind of match because of the focal distance of the photo so like each of these other to have a bit more photo you're not seen whereas this is the entire photo so by adding a mask and right now they're linked because I need be able to move them but if I wanted to for example I could go to this photo unlinked um and then still have a bit of room toe see how aiken still move him around inside a little bit if I wanted to and that's when we talked that have discussion about layer mass being linked or not there's a good example where the answer would be both initially I want them on link so I can position him inside that mask then I be ableto to move them and use layer cops they need to be linked back together again. Okay, great thank you sure okay so layer camps like this had been around for a long time I'm not entirely sure why more people don't use them almost every time I show them people like that is really good well, I could see using that and I think part of the problem is when I first started showing them I would go over the top and show here I have a docking with nineteen layers and I want to do all the and people were like at and ever do that so then by showing the other example which is just a photograph with a bunch of adjustment layers that people start going okay, I could see maybe doing that for something now the only other kind of thing to keep in mind with layer comp says they are documents specific in other words, I can't take layer cops and like dragon into a different document because they're relating to these layers inside this document so it's great on a per document basis, but there it is impossible to kind of, you know, position them into a different photo because that there wouldn't be any point in that unless you had all the same layers, which would be unlikely. Okay, where do you move on? Yes, good, okay, so whenever we're doing stuff in photo shop, we always have multiple options, and if we're trying to add objects or shapes to photo shop, we always have a couple of choices and on the surface level sometimes you think I would be easier to do it a certain way, so I'll show you that the op shins and talk about why the this particular option on show you is often a good choice I just added a blank layer I was going to go to this shape tool that has a bunch of shapes now just to clarify I have loaded all the shapes that come in photo shop and somewhere along the way I remember where it was I was clicking on something they said here's a bunch of free shapes for you I'm like ok, so I have more shapes and here than most people do quite a few more in fact so if I wanted to add something to this and let's just pick uh I don't know that I look at and say ok, I want to decide how do I want to add this in the first choice you make up in the options bar is between pixels path and shape pixels means it'll be like I used a paintbrush and they're made out of pixels and well, I'll show each of these in second path is a little more unusual because it doesn't actually do anything that shows on your document it's a creates this thing called a path that is useful for other purposes and shape is going to give you the effect of having your shape on the image but with a bit more flexibility so let's look at the difference in either case I still have to say ok, I want this color or let's actually pick up a color from our document and then I'm on a new layer. I've got it set to pixels. I'm only down the shift key eggs. I want to keep it in proportion and as I'm dragging for anyone familiar with victor shapes, it has a very vector look to it because you're seeing this kind of this kind of outline and I could make it a smaller as bigas I want, but as soon as I let go now, that's its size because it said, I've sized it now fill it with pixels the end so if later on, that may actually make a little smaller for the purpose of demonstration. So I put that on there and then later on, I decided, you know what? I think I want to make that bigger if you try to scale it up, it's gonna lose quality because you're taking pixels and saying, make those pixels bigger and that's never a good idea. So the good part about phil is it's easy and it creates you can put it on a layer by itself, but you have to be pretty darn sure that's the way I want to leave it because I can't edit the size. I can't edit the shape all aiken changes the color which is ok but my worry is I see people do things like I'm just going to create a simple logo and photo shop and they make it this big which is fine for that particular moment in time but what if you love it so much? You decide to put it on something much bigger and all the side and you can't so the alternative would be shape I actually talked about path first because we'll talk about this really quickly because there's wouldn't be too many situations where you would say let me make a path out of this to do something with it because usually the purpose of making a path is to actually either make into a selection or fill it with a color or something so in this particular case not as common the time where people use this is people who also used adobe illustrator and they all share is all based on path so you want to say it that shape doesn't exist in illustrator so I want to take it from photo shop pasted into illustrator that's about the one time right could see using this function so let's instead talk about shape so I'm going to make my little shape and right away there's a noticeable difference when I let go before I just saw the shape now you see all the little nodes around it that tells me this is a vector object and vector by nature means scaleable editable pixels opposite not very editable, not very scaleable at all. So when I click away from it, it looks exactly the same as the first one. You know you don't see any notes on it just looks like something, but the difference is a vector is I don't care how big you maybe initially how big do you want me to be now? And I can scale it up his biggest I want and you can see there's not a problem at all with quality because I can make it whatever size I want doesn't matter that's the reason we used vector objects is there's even a remote possibility of changing size that's a better way to go. The challenge with it is when you make a shape player like this it says, what one color would you like it to be? So if you want to have multiple colors, your outlook with this that's not what it does, okay, but it is editable in the sense that you khun look at it and say, um, now that I've done it actually going toe that's a little confusing sometimes put a white in for now to make it easier to see it's on there, but remember when I clicked on it, we actually saw all the little nodes on here. And if I use this white arrow tool, I can even adjust the shape of the tool of the shape itself. So this one is kind of odd shaped. But, you know, whatever I can go in and actually tweak it in a way that look a goose, a way that wouldn't be possible with pixels of pixels, you'd be just pushing them around. It would get all blurry and ugly. This the whole point of a vector object is actually a whole set of these nodes called anchor points that in the middle have a shapes it's almost like in a sense, I've got a solid colored layer that's mast by this vector object. In fact, in previous versions of photoshopped, it looked like that in your layers panel he would actually see a solid swatch and beside it, the vector mass. Now a shape player just looks like this. But you see, I can show you there's a little symbol on the corner of it. And that tells me this is vector. So if I open a document and I see someone's added some graphics, this makes me happy because it means okay, I've got a bit of room to play do I always use vector graphics now? But I certainly consider it if I'm thinking what about is there a chance of me enlarging or having to edit it? If I'm making a quick little web graphic that's going to be that size and that's the end of it? I might just add some graphics on there because it's just azizi but the other advantages that still has that kind of live fact where in that first shape if I want to change the color of it, I would have to go color picker pick a color phil no now it's live so I can look at it on the fly and say, what color do I want? And when I click ok it stays that way recently in one of the recent updates to creative cloud version of photos that they added a really interesting possibility, which is live shape properties, which at the moment is mostly on a rectangle. I can't tell you how hard it used to be if you wanted a rectangle that had like one rounded corner and the rest not that was like a fifteen minute tutorial on how to make that because it was like a pain in the you know where now you just go here and say I would like that corner they're all hold on they're all linked there on length um I just want this corner to be rounded the rest not now anyone home watching this that has been using force off for a while this is one of those things where you're like do cart wheels because it doesn't look like that much, but when you think how long it used to take to create that effect and it's still live and editable so later on I could decide maybe I went too far that's a pretty important difference and you can adjust the phil color and the stroke and how why the stroke is and all these different options but just the ability to go in and say I want this corner to be that size. You know, web designers rejoiced when they saw this because they're often having to make shapes like this for a website and it was like a major pain in fact they'd often switched to another program like illustrator and pace it in the photo shop because it was so hard to do this so now it's just a built in function which is really nice and because it's a shape player once again it's completely scaleable on editable. So the question comes down to when you're doing something, should I worry about it or not? Like in this case this graphic was, um originally in adobe illustrator therefore start out vector so I actually brought that in from that program could I have done is strictly with pixels, yeah but I wanted to give myself the option of saying scaleable so that's the advantage of vector shapes is there by nature. We talk about nondestructive. They're much more nondestructive in the sense of edit ability and scale ability than anything made out of pixels. So that's the kind of thing where it's not a huge difference but it's important enough when you're debating and if you have the option of using graphics that are vector based. Um, one of my worries is against when I see someone that's creating artwork of some kind of maybe a business card, and they make it perfectly size when they designed the logo and photo shop and then decide to use it on the side of their van. New well, I mean the work you just have a really pixel ized, ugly looking logo on the side of your fan, where if it's vector you could literally vector is what's called resolution independent, meaning if you want to put on a billboard you khun somehow printed that big, then it'll work, whereas photo shop if you try to jim showed on one has this nice ability to in large photos, and it does a better job than photo shop, but it was from a vector or a shape sampling you would still notice a little bit of jagged nissa would help but victor would be better now, if you have illustrator as if you're a creative cloud person, you have ill share and follows up and there's a lot of back and forth thing you can do where you can find a shape an illustrator and pasted into photo shop or vice versa, and create kind of a linkage between those two that's a little beyond the scope we want to talk about today, but that is certainly an option and opens up lots of possibilities. At the very least, if you're determining I just want to add a rectangle or an oval or some shape, I would be looking at these versus what many people do is they make a selection and then fill that selection with the color. And although that works and for many situations it's fine, if there's even the remote possibility that you might need to edit that shape or resize that I would go vector shape and here's the other thing that's important to remember very important talked about this before photo shop has a very long memory, so if the last time I used a shape tool, it was set on pixels, it still will be so in my mind if I'm thinking I'm using a shape tool, unfortunately, when I let go that's, not a shape that's, that's, just pixels so I have part of my procedure is to look at in the loop, wait a minute, I need to be shaped, and then I can drag and now it's a shape that automatically makes a new layer if you noticed when it was set to pixels, it painted right on the background layer because dragging a selection does not add up logically make are dragging it, and when it said two pixels, just not optically madam panic, we think a new layer I was really came out really challenging for some reason I tried again, dragging a shape makes a new layer I haven't set two pixels, I'd have to consciously say, oops, I better make a new layer first, so there's actually nothing wrong with using the pixel function. Fact, I do quite a bit if I know all I'm trying to do is make a strike down that side that's ok? Because at worst I might decide to move it over a bit, but if it's a shape that might change shape or I might take this entire document inside to blow it up for some other thing that wouldn't serve me very well, it would still be in this case, we're probably ok, because it's a straight line what's a straight line and it gets bigger is not too too bad.

Class Materials

bonus material with purchase

Smartflow Notes

Ratings and Reviews

a Creativelive Student

I enjoyed this class by Dave Cross. I like his method of teaching and found him very easy to follow and I learned lots of good tips on smart objects and working non destructively. I have just made the move from PS Elements to Photoshop CC 2014 so have lots to learn so I look forward to more from Dave in the future. Thanks Dave, I thoroughly enjoyed this class.

Roni Chas


a Creativelive Student

Dave Cross is a wonderful instructor! He has a fantastic teaching style and has great mastery of his subjects!

Student Work