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Importing Photoshop documents into After Effects is very much the same as importing any other kind of media. With the exception that After Effects recognizes that it's a Photoshop document and gives you a couple more options than you'd get from a piece of video, for example. I've got a simple composition set up here in After Effects CS6, and I'm going to import by double-clicking in the Project panel here. I can, of course, also right-click and choose to import a file that way, and so on and so on. I can go to the File menu, I'm just going to double-click and I'm going to browse to this Photoshop document in the Graphics folder. Amongst our other assets the paladin_logo.psd.
Before I click Open, you'll notice that down here. Because this is a Photoshop document, After Affects has recognized that this gives me options whether I want to import this as footage. As a composition, or as a composition with retained layer sizes. Now, footage is pretty straightforward. You're going to get a single item in the bin. In fact, let's do that. I'm going to select that option, I'm going to click Open. And here, you see I've got these same options again. Do I want to import this as footage composition or with retained layer sizes? If I'm choosing footage, and I'm choosing Merged Layers. This is a combination of all the layers in the Photoshop document, I'm clicking OK.
I'm going to get a single item. I'm going to put this into my comp and you can see there it is. It's a single item. I've got handles so I can move it around. It's a very simple 3-layer Photoshop document with some sparkle effects over the text and a background red glow. If I expand this layer in my composition, expand the Transformer controls. You can see that I don't really have access to that much control for the object. It really is behaving like footage. I don't, for example, have access to any layer effects. So, that's importing it as a flat footage item.
The good thing about doing this though, is I can select the item in the Project panel. Go to the Edit menu and choose Edit Original. And this is going to load up Photoshop with the document open. I can make a change to the document. I'll just do something really obvious. I'm going to select this text layer and maybe just drop the Opacity so it's nice an clear. I'm going to save that, Ctrl or Cmd+S. Toggle back to After Effects, and right away, you can see the result. I've got semi-transparent text. So, it's very easy to work with Photoshop documents this way if you want to use Photoshop as your original graphics editor.
To be honest, you know, After Effects has a reputation for being Photoshop for video. And there's an awful lot you can do with graphics and text and your visuals in After Effects anyway. So, it, it may not be necessary for you to do that, but you might well get Photoshop documents as source media anyway. I'm going to double-click again in the Project panel and I'm going to choose this item again. And this time, well, I suppose I could do it on the next screen. I'm not going to bother specifying here. But notice at the bottom, we've got this option to import a Photoshop sequence.
Like Premiere Pro, After Effects can identify numbered image sequences and import them as footage items. Just a little tick box and makes perfect sense if you've got say, 250 to 300 images to produce a short sequence. I'm going to click Open and this time, instead of choosing footage, in fact before I get to that, just take a look here. If I choose to have individual layers, I can decide if I'm going to have layers one, two, or three. And you can see right away I've got a problem here because I'm about to begin working with my layers, and they are just called Layer 1, 2, and 3. If I toggle over now to Photoshop, you can see there they are Layer 1, 2, and 3. Pretty useless when you're working in After Effects if you're going to have individual layers.
Now, if I just cancel this and go back to Photoshop, let's pull that Opacity back up. And let's double-click, and let's call this sparkle. And I'm double-clicking on the Layer 1 here. Let's call that text. It's actually a graphic. Then let's double-click here and call this red glow. Okay, I'm going to save, Ctrl or Cmd+S. And then, I'm going to toggle back over to After Effects and I'm going to double-click and select that item and click Open. Now, this time if I choose to select an individual layer, you can see I've got the option of choosing the spark, or the text, or the red glow. And these layer names are going to appear inside my comp in After Effects. Very, very useful if you can plan ahead in that way, makes it a lot easier to identify your content.
Here, I can choose if I want to merge the layer style into the footage, if I've got any layer styles, or just ignore them altogether. And then, I've got this footage dimensions option. And I've always felt this wasn't as clearly as perhaps it might be. Document size means that the layer will have its dimensions adjusted to match. The, if you like the Canvas Size, the original image size inside of Photoshop. Layer size means that if the object on the layer that you're importing is smaller than that canvas, then you'll just get a layer that is the size of the object.
Now generally speaking, I tend to go for Document Size because it retains layout choices. If you've positioned in the bottom corner of the screen, it's still going to be in the bottom corner. If you choose Layout Size, that's just not going to happen. The image is going to be centered in the middle of your composition. In fact, what I actually want to do is not import this as footage, I think it's pretty straightforward for you to work out. You're going to get an individual layer, and you an do that for each layer. What I want to do is instead choose Composition. Now once again, we've got this option to retain layer sizes, or not.
And I generally would recommend that you choose to not retain the layer sizes. Retaining the layer sizes means that each item's going to be imported with it's own dimensions. And that might well mean far below the image resolution of your video. The net result is that each item will be centered in the middle of your composition. It's just going to popup in the center and not necessarily retain its relative spacial positioning. It might be that that's exactly what you want. It might be that you've got a Photoshop document that just has lots and lots of different images in it. That you just happen to be using the layers as a storehouse, if you like, for all this different content.
That's absolutely fine. But if you want to retain the relative positions of your layers, then you want to choose Composition and not retain layer sizes. Notice also that we've got this option to have editable layer styles. So, this is, effects that you've applied to your layers, or to merge those layer styles into the footage. That is, if you like to rasterize them, to make those layer styles, part of the image. Instead of them procedurally being generated, dynamically being generated. Essentially what this comes down to is 3D.
And you can see the description at the bottom. Editable layer styles match the Photoshop appearance. Supported style properties will be fully editable, but note that a layer with a layer style cannot intersect a 3D layer. Are you working in 3D, yes or no? It's going to make up your mind for you. If you merge the layer style into the footage, then well, it renders faster. It allows 3D intersections, but it may not exactly match what you saw in Photoshop. You choose. Try it both ways. It only takes a moment to try both ways and just see if you're happy with the results.
I'm going to leave this with Editable Layer Styles and click OK. Now look what happens. So, here is a new composition that is being created, named after a Photoshop document. And here are the layers that are inside of that composition. This is the original instance of the file that we imported a moment ago. And you can see there, it's got the original dimensions which are a bit a bit weird for video edit. Inside of this bin, I've got each of the layers individually named. And you can see that they're clearly defined as being inside of that PSD. And if I open up the composition, which of course I can nest inside another comp very easily, you can see I've got each of those layers suitable named. If I pull this in, let me just drop this under the video out of the way for a second.
And I'll lay this on top so you can see that as a title. Of course, transparency is supported in the nested composition. So, I can just treat this as a regular graphic. But if I switch over to that comp and just expand, maybe the text, because the text has a glow on it, and just expand out the layer styles. Here you go, I've got a drop shadow. And that drop shadow is fully editable. Because I imported the Photoshop document with that option selected to have the layer styles available for editing. If I just solo this layer, let me just pull up a little bit. So you can see it.
Now I can do things like adjust the size of that shadow. And we're going to make it a fair bit bigger but now drop the Opacity a little bit, switch back to the other composition. You can see well, I've created a problem here because the size of the composition, the canvas size for it is too small. And I'm going to want to adjust that if I'm going to bread that shadow. Remember, if you use a composition that you've created in this way inside Premiere Pro as a dynamically-linked asset.
Then the link will not be directly between Premiere Pro and the Photoshop document. The link will be between Premiere Pro and After Effects, and then After Effects into Premiere Pro. So there is a chain, and you need to make sure you save any changes that you make. Otherwise, things just won't be there the next time you load the project. And one last thing. Even if you have imported your Photoshop document in this way, with separate layers, you can still go to the Edit menu and choose Edit Original. And make adjustments and have them update inside of After Effects.
It's not dynamic link. You do have to save, and you may need to right-click and choose to reload the footage. But it should work and it should update procedurally. So, that's working with Photoshop documents in After Effects CS6.
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