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Lightroom Classic & Photoshop Integration

Lesson 12 of 14

Automatic Layouts in Photoshop Triggered by Lightroom

Ben Willmore

Lightroom Classic & Photoshop Integration

Ben Willmore

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Lesson Info

12. Automatic Layouts in Photoshop Triggered by Lightroom
Set up Export Presets that trigger actions in Photoshop that can produce complex layouts that incorporate multiple images from your Lightroom catalog.

Lesson Info

Automatic Layouts in Photoshop Triggered by Lightroom

Now let's take a look at how we can get light room to trigger Photoshop into creating a complex layout out of images that we have in light room. So I'll just select the images and I'll tell, Go make a layout and that's all I need to do. Once I get this set up, I'm going to make a simple loud that incorporates four images, so we'll start with these four. And first I need to be over here in light room, and I'm going to create an export presets. I'll choose file export in here. I would usually choose the closest preset to what I desire over on the left side, but I created all these presets. You most likely won't have these, and so I'll set this up from scratch. First up here I wanted to export these images to my desktop, and then I can tell it down here to put it in a sub folder. And I'm going to call mine L. R for light room auto layout, and therefore I'll recognize why there's a folder on my desktop each time I run it, so I won't feel bad about throwing that folder away once it's comple...

te. Uh, and I don't want to add it to this catalog for existing files. I'm gonna tell it to overwrite without warning, and therefore, I can run this multiple times in a row without having to go clear out that folder to begin with. Then let's move down to the next section here. I wanted to rename these images, and I'm going to turn on that check box click here and then I'm going to choose edit to make my own preset for how it names the images and I'll clear out what's currently in here so we can start fresh. And all I'm going to do is give this a name that would be unique, that you'd never find another image on your hard drive with. And so I'll just call it L R Auto layout and that'll hit space, and I then wanted to number the pictures. So if I choose four images, it'll number them one through four. So down here, under sequence in date, I can just choose image number and I'll make it two digits. Then I'm gonna hit the insert button and that'll add it up here. So now we have an example of the file name presented to us here, and that works out just fine. A click done. So now, when we export, we're always going to have consistent file naming. And therefore, when Photoshop tries to go and grab an image out of that folder, it'll always find one of that name. We can ignore the video section. Since I'm not going to use this with video files and then down here, we want to choose a file format. I'm going to use JPEG, and they're really personal choices here. I mean, meaning you can deviate from these easily, Uh, if you would like, like the quality setting you're welcome to set higher than this if you'd like. But JPEG should work fine for image sizing. I am going to tell it to resize to fit, and I'm going to tell it to resize it to exactly 2560 pixels with a resolution of 2 40. The resolution isn't going to matter in this case, and the only reason I'm using this number is we don't usually need full size pictures when making layouts in Photoshop in this is the maximum size that I can create or export an image when I have something called a smart preview and therefore I'd be able to run this even when the hard drive that contains my original pictures is not connected to my computer. As long as I limit myself to images that have smart previews, we'll talk about smart previews, I think in the last session of this course, then I'll have it sharpened for print. If I plan on printing these, or if it's for the Internet to screen, it's not going to be critical because we're going to end up scaling down these images and therefore the sharpening will be less noticeable. It doesn't really matter what you have the metadata set to not gonna affect being results, and I don't want to water market. So now I've gotten all the way down here to this area called post processing and after export, it's set to do nothing. What I wanted to do, though, is trigger an action, but we're actually going to make a second export preset that's going to trigger the action, so I'm going to leave this one set to do nothing. The reason why we're going to need to export presets is if I did it right now to this one, and I plan on exporting, let's say four or six images for our layout. This would cause the action to be run after each image was exported and I want it to instead wait until all of the images have been exported and then only apply the action once. So I'm gonna leave this set to do nothing. And now, over here on the left side, I'm gonna hit the add button, and I'm going to give this set of settings and name, and I'm going to call it auto layout, always for images. And that's because we need to always use the same number of images otherwise of an action in Photoshop ends up utilizing four images, but there are only three images found in the folder that we create. Uh, it'll actually bomb Photoshop because it's just not designed for that. So I'll hit create here that reminds me to always use four images. Then I'm going to make one more pre set. We can use the same settings that we have over here on the right side, and the only difference is going to be right here. This is where I'm going to have it trigger an action. And so in here, Do you see Right in here are the names of various actions and these actions, in order to show up in this menu, have to be stored in a very special folder. And you can get to that folder by clicking on this pop up menu and choosing go to export actions folder. Now that's going to open a folder on your hard drive. And here it is. It's called the export Actions. And if I open it, you're going to find some actions in there. From what I've demoed this in the past and I'm gonna come in here and delete these. You don't need to delete anything that's in here. It's just I've done this process many times and I have extras in here, so I'll get rid of those and just leave one that I might actually use in the future. I'm just going to leave this folder open, and therefore I can easily figure out where it is later on, when I'm actually saving an action so it will save into the proper area, and I'm going to do one other thing in our preset here, I'm going to change the file naming because right now it would end up naming things, starting with the number one. And therefore, if I apply this action, I'm sorry. This preset, I might end up replacing the very first image that was created using the previous preset we made. So all I'm going to do here is say, edit. And instead of having a number, it this time I'm going to make it to the last image we export is always the background. And so I'm just gonna put in here dash background. So that will have something conditional, uh, continuously Or so we'll have a consistent name every time we do this to 1/5 image which will be used for the background. I'll click. Done. Uh, now, just so I don't mess things up here, I can save this as a preset now, even though it's not set to trigger an action, and then we can update it later. So I'm gonna choose add on the left side. I'll call this one auto layout dash, background image plus action. That way it tells me this is going to save out my background image and run an action I'll hit create. So those are the two presets that we have created now click Done. And before we go to Photoshop, I actually want to run those presets to make sure there is a folder on my hard drive of the name that was chosen in there. And it contains some pictures. So I'm going to select these four images I'm going to then choose file export with preset and come down here to auto layout. Always four images. I have four images, and therefore I should end up with a folder that contains JPEG versions of these four images, although I'll have to wait for this Progress bar to finish. Then I'm going to choose an additional picture, and I'll go back up to the file menu. I'll choose export with preset, and this time I'm going to choose auto layout, background, image plus action. This is only going to export one picture, and it's going to have the word background on it, and it's not going to trigger an action yet because we haven't set that part up yet, But at least we'll have all the images we need now. I just needed to wait for the little progress bar that was in the upper left to finish. And now we can head to Photoshop to make our action. Here I am in Photoshop, and if you don't see the panels in Photoshop, then what you'll be looking at instead looks like this. And there's a Photoshop icon in the upper left. Just click on it, and that brings you into Photoshop, where you can see all the panels. The little home icon in the upper left would send you back there, so I'm going to go to the window menu and choose actions. And here are all the actions I've created in the past. We're going to make a new one before we make one. Let's put a folder in there to store our action. I'll click on it and just call it L R. For light room auto play out. I'm going to click OK, and now we have a folder to contain our action within with that folder selected. So it's highlighted here in the Actions panel. I'll create a new action by clicking this icon with the plus sign on it, and I'll call this auto layout and it tells you right here, what set it will be stored in. That's what they call these folders. And because that was already selected before I created my action, it automatically filled that in. I can leave the options at the bottom alone, and then I'm just going to click record. And at this point, the bottom of the actions panel. The record icon is red, and that means it's going to pay attention to everything I do. And so I have to be very careful and not do anything that I wouldn't want to have this thing repeat every single time. It applies the action. So I'm going to go into the file menu and choose new, and I'm going to have it create a brand new document. Maybe I'll make this something like a seven inch wide image and a five inch tall with a resolution of 300 a white background. That's fine. I'll hit, create. Now I have that bear document. Let's go down here just below our crop tool, and that's where you're gonna find the frame tool, and that's where I'm going to click and drag where I want a photograph to appear in the future, so we'll do that. Then I'm gonna come up and draw a second frame. I'll draw a third one and finally I'll draw forth so we have space for all four images. Now let's start populating this document with images before we actually open one of those pictures, though I want to make sure I target one of these layers in my layers panel because otherwise it can be unpredictable. When this action gets applied, I'm just going to click on a different layer and then click right back to the layer I wanted to target, and if you look at my action, you'll see it says Select layer frame for as long as the name is in there, then that layer will always be active At the time the actions applied. Let's go to the file menu and let's choose place embedded. I'm going to choose the first image, and actually, since this is called Frame for, I might as well choose the fourth image. Therefore, the name of the image will match the name of the frame, and I'm just going to choose place. When I do, it's going to automatically scale down the picture to fit within that frame and fill it, and that's all I need to do. I'm gonna then click on the next layer down frame. Three. All again, go to the file menu. I'm going to choose place embedded in this time. I'm gonna choose Image number three, choose place, and it's going to do the same process over again. Then I'll click on frame number two. Choose place embedded. Grab image number two. And I'm just repeating this process until all the frames are filled. Go to frame number one place embedded image number one. And once we have all the frames filled in, I'm then going to click on the background because now I want to put an image behind everything. And so I'll choose file place embedded. And this time I'm going to choose the image that ends with the word background choose place. And there it didn't fill quite the entire image. So I'm gonna grab the upper left corner and pull it up like this until it does fill. And I also need to pull the lower right, so I'll click this little icon of the actions so I can get to this corner and pull it down so it fills the entire background, press return or enter when I'm done, and that background has a bit too much detail to it. So I'm going to then run a filter on it and I'll come over here and use Gaussian blur. Although you can also try any other filter like motion. Blur also does a nice job. And I'm going to use high setting until that background just becomes kind of random colors instead of something recognizable and I'll click. OK, at this point, I can stop my action. So I'm gonna go to my actions panel at the bottom of my action. I'm gonna hit the stop button. And just so you know, you could get fancier than this and do all sorts of things, like incorporating text. But I'm trying to give you just the essence of what's required here. What we need to do next is save out this action in a special way, and it needs to go in a special folder. So let's try it out to do so. I'm gonna go to the file menu. I'm gonna choose, automate. And then there's a choice called create droplet. When I choose that there looks like a lot of settings in here, but there's really not much we need to do right here. We do need to save the droplet in a very special place. So I'll hit the choose button and in here it automatically brought me to that place. Only because it's where I saved my last droplet. Yours will likely not bringing to the right spot. So let's get this to the right spot. I just went to my desktop for a moment just to show you what it might look like when you do this. But if you remember when we were in light room, we opened a special folder, which should still be open. If I go to my finder, it's right here. And if there's any files in there, I could just drag the file over here to navigate to it or in this case, and see if I'm on a Mac up. Here is the name of the folder. There's a trick. If you command click, you can see the path to it on windows that be something similar? I'm just not sure exactly what it is, but this tells you how to navigate to that folder war. If I back up one level, I'll actually be able to see the folder. It's right here. And I believe if I drag it up to this window right here, that's the safe screen we were in. We go back to the finder, I'm gonna drag it up here. It should navigate to it for me. So it depends on your operating system and how comfortable you are with dragging things around. But that did navigate me to the proper spot. Now here, I'm going to name this and I'm gonna call it, uh, Photoshop Auto layout and I'll click Save. And so now it knows where it wants to save the action. And that's going to be in that special folder that light room will be able to see. Then down here, it wants to know what specific action should it save. And as long as you have the action clicked on over here before you use this, uh, screen, it should automatically populate that. But if it doesn't have the right action here, right here is the name of the set or folder that had stored within. We made a new one so I can choose the name of that. And down here is the name of all the actions that are found within that folder. We only have one, so it's relatively straightforward to choose it now and hear these aren't really going to matter because we only have one folder. So it doesn't matter if there's any sub folders. There is no action that has an open command in it. Because we didn't use that. We did use place, though I might turn on suppress color profile warnings. Uh, just because you never know if that's going to cause any issue. Uh, this is all we need to do. And when I'm done, I click OK, in an action just got saved in a special folder. Let's make sure that that action works. So what I'm gonna do is just come in here and click on the name of our action. We could have tested this before saving as a droplet, and I'm just gonna hit, play and see if we get a brand new document. We already have a new document. It looked like it was instantaneous because now, if you look, we have two tabs when you click between them. They look identical. And now let's go over and get light room to be able to use that, I'll close these and not save them because I don't need the documents and I'm gonna head over here light room and let's try it with four different images here. I'm going to select these four images. Uh, and before I actually run it, we do need to modify our actions. So our or our preset I'm going to come to the file menu. I'm gonna choose export. And if you remember that last one we created, it's called Auto Layout Background Image Plus Action. But it doesn't actually trigger an action, so we just need to update it to trigger an action. I'll click on it on the left side of my screen so it loads all the settings over here on the right, and all I'm going to do is click right here and see if our action shows up and I see it's right there. Photoshop Auto layout. So now it's set to prompt that action, but you notice that it's no longer selected over here. That's because it thinks I wanted to create a new, preset based on this one and changes you make over here. Don't update anything on the left side. So all you need to do is click on that preset on the left side of my screen with the right mouse button, and then I can say update with current settings And now that saved into that preset. If you click between them, you'll see the one we created to begin with, says, Do nothing afterwards. And now the one over here says, Apply the action called Photoshop Auto Layout. All I needed to do was choose it from this menu and then right click down here on this preset and say update Now click done. And now we can try things out here. I have my four images I want to use for my layout. I'm going to choose file export with preset, and I'm going to choose that one says Auto layout. Always four images and up here, I'll see a progress bar where it's going to be exporting. Then I'll choose one additional image to use as a background, and I'll choose file export with preset and then auto layout, background image plus action, and hopefully that will actually export the file up here, and when it's done, it won't switch me to Photoshop. But if I go to Photoshop, I'm going to find the finished image. You can see the nice, blurred background image that's in there and my four images and I can now collapse down these actions. And so I don't need to see the actions panel to apply it. And when I'm completely done on my desktop will be a folder that has five images the five images that were used here. And I can throw those away, uh, and just throw out the folder because every time I run those presets, that folder is going to automatically generated, and it will be populated with images. That's how we can cause light room to trigger an action in Photoshop. And that action can do complex things. And as long as we save our images to a consistent location with consistent file names and a consistent size, then those layouts that can be rather complex are easy for it to tackle because everything is consistent. Next, I'm going to show you how we can trick light room into allowing us to use images in Photoshop even when we don't have the hard drive that contains the originals available

Class Description


  • Optimize your settings and explore the multitude of options for round-tripping images between Lightroom and Photoshop.
  • Apply adjustments in Lightroom that are usually only available in Photoshop.
  • Make multiple passes of Lightroom adjustments on layered files while retaining the ability to edit all the layers.
  • Mask an image in Photoshop and then transfer the result to Lightroom in order to preview how it would look on top of images in your catalog.
  • Teach Lightroom to automatically create complex layouts in Photoshop.
  • Work on your Lightroom images in Photoshop even when the originals are not available.
  • Learn tips and tricks to increase productivity.


If you’ve ever sent an image from Adobe Lightroom to Adobe Photoshop and have been confused by the choices of “Edit a Copy with Lightroom Adjustments”, “Edit a Copy”, and “Edit Original”, then you’ll love this class from the start. After all, developing clarity on the fundamentals is essential before you can feel comfortable with Lightroom Classic.

If you dig a little deeper, you’ll learn that both Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Lightroom have unique strengths that become dramatically more versatile when they are used together. For instance, Photoshop’s advanced masking and layering capabilities are great when you want to replace a dull and boring sky. But, it’s only when you partner it with Lightroom’s ability to overlay a Photoshop image that you can experiment with various skies and interactively adjust the raw file until it looks like it belongs in the resulting image.

Once you have a solid feel for the strengths and limitations of each program, you’ll learn to push them and combine features to accomplish things you had no idea were even possible. This is Ben Willmore’s special gift: He gets you comfortable by relating the technical aspects to things you already know and use every day, which develops clarity. Then he guides you through real-world projects to help build your confidence before showing you just how far you can push the boundaries so you know what’s possible.

This class will help you:

  • Understand the preferences and choices that control how Photoshop and Lightroom Classic interact
  • Learn under which situation each option makes sense so you can always choose the best option for your images
  • Discover how uncommon features add a lot of functionality once you see concrete examples of their use
  • Eliminate the frustration of having Photoshop images not appear in your Lightroom catalog after editing
  • Understand how to round-trip your images while retaining Photoshop layers and multiple passes of Lightroom adjustments
  • See how Metadata conflicts can cause issues and how to resolve them


  • People who have Adobe Lightroom Classic and Adobe Photoshop (not elements) installed and have some familiarity with the absolute basics of both programs.
  • Those who desire clarity, confidence and efficiency based on proven logic.
  • Please who want to develop versatile workflows that go beyond the basics.


Adobe Lightroom Classic (v10.2)

Photoshop (v22.3)

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase


Lightroom Class Catalog and Images

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

Related Classes



Fantastic, clear explanations of these features. i have a much better understanding of how to go back and forth between LR and PS. Thank you Ben. this is must watch class for anyone that uses LR and PS