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Photoshop Top 40
Illustration by John Hersey
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39. Layer comps


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Photoshop Top 40

with Deke McClelland

Video: 39. Layer comps

(Music playing) Deke's Photoshop? Deke's Photoshop? Top 40! Feature #39 is layer comps and layer comps allow you to save layered states inside of a single Photoshop image file. So here's the idea. At the most basic you can save which layers are turned on and which layers are turned off. You can also save the opacity levels that are associated with the layer as well as blend modes and you can save layer effects including different sorts of layer effects. So a single layer could contain different kinds of Drop Shadows within different layer comps, and you can save the vertical and horizontal Position of a layered element as well.

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Photoshop Top 40
7h 13m Intermediate Dec 21, 2009

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

There's nothing people love more than lists, and Photoshop Top 40 offers a great one, highlighting the best features in Photoshop. Deke McClelland counts down to #1 with a new video each week, detailing one great feature after another in this popular digital imaging application. The videos cover tools, commands, and concepts, emphasizing what's really important in Photoshop.

This is an ongoing course that will be updated monthly.

For the newest updates please go to our blog entry for Deke's Photoshop Top 40.

Topics include:
  • Assembling multiple pieces of artwork with layer comps
  • Creating a black-and-white image from a color photograph
  • Merging multiple channels to create an alpha channel with calculations
  • Selecting images with the Pen tool
  • Masking images using the Brush tool
Subjects:
Design Photography
Software:
Photoshop
Author:
Deke McClelland

39. Layer comps

(Music playing) Deke's Photoshop? Deke's Photoshop? Top 40! Feature #39 is layer comps and layer comps allow you to save layered states inside of a single Photoshop image file. So here's the idea. At the most basic you can save which layers are turned on and which layers are turned off. You can also save the opacity levels that are associated with the layer as well as blend modes and you can save layer effects including different sorts of layer effects. So a single layer could contain different kinds of Drop Shadows within different layer comps, and you can save the vertical and horizontal Position of a layered element as well.

So why layer comps are so great is they allow you to create variations inside of a single piece of layered art work and that way you can show different variations to an art director if you want to or a client to get them sign off on an idea. Or you can just save the variation as you're working inside of a layered file because what I find is as I'm assembling a layered file, I tend to change my mind I want to try out different effects. With a layer comp you can save your point in time and come back to it later if you want to.

So let me show you how it works. I've got this file called Dream guests but first notice that there are a ton of layers going on inside of this file as is typical when you're creating a design inside a Photoshop, I'm going to Shift+Tab away those palettes. And I've got this audio only weekly podcast that I do call martini hour that I do along with my Deke online site Colleen Wheeler and you can check them out if you want to at http://www.deke. com and every once in a while we have special guests on the show. So I was sitting here imagining who would be just a Dream guest for martini hour and I came up with Steve Jobs of course.

Now, I created this artwork using a combination of martini glasses in the background that had come to me from photographer Gunnar 3000. And so I've got this sleek you know new- age Apple look going here, the metal look. But then I thought well, may be we can do better than Steve Jobs. What about, and I saved this incidentally as a layer comp. I'll go up to the Window menu and I'll chose the layer comps command to bring up the layer comps palette right there and I'll go ahead and make it a little taller. And so notice that I've gone ahead and saved this Comp as Dream guest #1 and what it does is it goes ahead and saves which layers are turned off, which layers are turned on and you know the blend modes and the opacity levels and the layer effects and all that to you as I was telling you about.

So now let's go ahead and switch to the next layer comp, I'll show you how to create layer comps in just a moment. But to switch between layer comps you should click in front of them, so I would click not on Dream guest #2 but rather in front of Dream Guest #2 and that becomes John Lasseter, the head honcho over at Pixar. He would be awesome totally awesome guest on the show I think. Notice that I have ahead and colorized each of the martini glasses and so on. All right so lets go ahead and hide the Layer Comps palette for just a moment, actually what I'm going to do is I'm going to drag this palette out so that it's a free floating palette like so.

Then I'm going to Shift+Tab my Layers palette back up here. Now let's say that we want to create our own Comp and now who would just absolutely be the best guest ever on the show. All right, so first thing I'm going to do is I'm just going to turn off these martini glasses here, just get them out of the way so that we have this sleek sort of space look going on, and just heighten the space look with-- Let's go ahead and add this field of noise right here which is going to simulate stars. And I actually am going to show how to make this exact effect, how you can create your own synthetic star effect like this, right out of Star Wars by the way, in a future series that I'm going to do on Smart Objects.

So stay tuned for that if you're interested. All right, then it occurred to me you know what there's this martini hour layer right here I'm going to go ahead and click on it to make it active and that's a Shape layer and its got a Drop Shadow associated with it. That doesn't even make any sense that we have a Drop Shadow against space, so I'm going to turn off the Drop Shadow and I'm going to go ahead and turn on the Outer Glow like that, and we have, you know much better effect. Now let's go ahead and grab this with Special Guest layer right there, which is With Special Guest: John Lasseter. And I'll go ahead and press Ctrl+j or Cmd+j to jump it that makes the corner of the layer.

Let's go ahead and turn off the Original and let's edit this layer right there using the Type tool. So I'll go over to my tool Box and select the Type tool and then I'll drag over John Lasseter and let's replace it with the obvious best guest ever, George Lucas. And then I'll press the Enter key on the key pad in order to accept that modification and now I want to go ahead and save this off as a Custom layer comp that I can come back to any time I like. In the Layer Comps palette I'll drop down to Little Page Icon and click on it and then just for the sake of consistency I'll call it Dream guest #3 like so, and then I want to save not only Visibility but also Appearance.

So the idea is visibility is going to save which layers are turned off and which Layers are turned on. Appearance is going to save things like opacity and blend mode that are associated with the layers as well is the fact that for this martini hour layer I turned off the Drop Shadow and I turned on the Outer Glow. So we're going to save which layer effects are turned on and off as well as any settings that are associated with those effects. Position is going to go ahead and save the vertical and horizontal Position of the layered Elements. Now I recommend when in doubt that you leave this option off and that's what I'm going to do in this case.

And then I'm going to click OK in order to accept this new state and now notice watch what happens let's go ahead and Shift+Tab away those palettes on the right side. Let's bring back the Layer Comps palette because we really need to have it up on screen, and we still have dream guest #1, which is Steve Jobs. Notice that everything is reinstated. We have dream guest #2, which is John Lasseter, and we have dream guest #3, which is George Lucas. Awesome, now all we have to do is go up to the File menu and choose the Save command and we've saved those layer comps along with the layers inside of this layered PSD document.

That is the power of layer comps inside Photoshop.

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about Photoshop Top 40.


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Q: Is there a way to batch convert an entire folder of photos from the RBG color mode to the CMYK color mode without having to open and convert each individual image?
A: In the Actions panel in Photoshop, create an action that converts an image from RGB to CMYK. Then link to that action from File > Automate > Batch inside Photoshop.
Next, in the Bridge, select a folder of images. Choose Tools > Photoshop > Batch. Select the action inside the ensuing dialog box.
Or, in Photoshop, select File > Automate > Batch, and select the action and the folder inside the dialog box.
See also: Photoshop CS2 Actions & Automation, Chapter 2 “Action Essentials.”
 
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