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Merging, rasterizing, and flattening layers


Photoshop CC Essential Training (2013)

with Julieanne Kost

Video: Merging, rasterizing, and flattening layers

As your documents contain more and more layers, sometimes those file sizes will grow quite large. So people are always asking me when I would want to flatten my image or when I might want to merge layers together in order to save on file size. Honestly, I think that the flexibility that you gain by keeping all of your layers separate far outweighs any decrease in file size that you gain by merging the layers together or flattening the images. But with that in mind, there are a few ways that we can decrease the file size. Let's go ahead and open Composite02, double-click on it, it opens in Bridge, and let's take a look at our Layers panel.
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  1. 1m 42s
    1. What is Photoshop?
      1m 42s
  2. 4m 18s
    1. Welcome
      1m 4s
    2. Using the exercise files
    3. Installing Adobe Bridge
      1m 23s
    4. What's new
      1m 26s
  3. 40m 58s
    1. What is Adobe Bridge?
      3m 3s
    2. Getting photos from a camera
      6m 0s
    3. A tour of workspaces in Bridge
      8m 30s
    4. Customizing how thumbnails are displayed
      4m 42s
    5. Changing file names and batch renaming
      4m 39s
    6. Adding basic metadata with metadata templates
      4m 46s
    7. Creating and applying keywords to images
      7m 1s
    8. Viewing images in Full Screen Preview mode
      2m 17s
  4. 27m 23s
    1. Using Review mode to filter out rejected images
      5m 32s
    2. Saving images in collections
      3m 52s
    3. Rating and labeling images
      4m 31s
    4. Using the Filter panel to view different subsets
      3m 7s
    5. Using smart collections
      3m 39s
    6. Viewing final selects in a slideshow
      2m 50s
    7. Organizing groups of images into stacks
      3m 52s
  5. 41m 40s
    1. Comparing raw and JPEG files
      5m 5s
    2. Starting in Camera Raw instead of Photoshop
      4m 1s
    3. Touring the Camera Raw user interface
      5m 29s
    4. Previewing before and after adjustments (CC 2014.1)
      6m 55s
    5. Previewing before and after adjustments
      3m 18s
    6. Toggling onscreen Shadow/Highlight clipping warnings (CC 2014.1)
      4m 48s
    7. Toggling onscreen Shadow/Highlight clipping warnings
      4m 44s
    8. Choosing output settings
      3m 34s
    9. Saving a copy without going to Photoshop
      3m 46s
  6. 1h 10m
    1. Using the nondestructive Crop tool: Door and window with ramp
      3m 42s
    2. Correcting a tilted horizon line with the Straighten tool
      4m 12s
    3. Fixing color casts with the White Balance tool
      3m 52s
    4. Fixing blown-out highlights
      5m 42s
    5. Revealing hidden shadow detail
      4m 36s
    6. Reducing distracting color noise with Noise Reduction (CC 2014.1)
      7m 32s
    7. Reducing distracting color noise with Noise Reduction
      5m 55s
    8. Correcting lens distortion
      5m 17s
    9. Making perspective corrections to images
      5m 51s
    10. Removing chromatic aberration
      3m 32s
    11. Sharpening details
      7m 23s
    12. Making an average photo great (CC 2014.1)
      6m 57s
    13. Making an average photo great
      6m 5s
  7. 1h 52m
    1. Using the Graduated Filter tool (CC 2014.1)
      6m 15s
    2. Using the Graduated Filter tool
      5m 39s
    3. Adding a radial gradient (CC 2014.1)
      7m 56s
    4. Adding a radial gradient
      6m 35s
    5. Making local adjustments with the Adjustments Brush (CC 2014.1)
      11m 52s
    6. Making local adjustments with the Adjustment Brush
      11m 19s
    7. Retouching blemishes with the Spot Removal tool (CC 2014.1)
      6m 37s
    8. Retouching blemishes with the Spot Removal tool
      4m 35s
    9. A quick portrait retouching technique using Clarity (CC 2014.1)
      7m 59s
    10. A quick portrait retouching technique using Clarity
      7m 49s
    11. Converting to black and white (CC 2014.1)
      3m 24s
    12. Converting to black and white
      3m 17s
    13. Editing images directly with the Targeted Adjustment tool
      3m 56s
    14. Selective coloring effects with the Adjustment Brush
      5m 56s
    15. Easy sepia and split-tone effects
      4m 11s
    16. Adding digital film grain texture effects
      2m 27s
    17. Adding vignettes and border effects (CC 2014.1)
      4m 40s
    18. Adding vignettes and border effects
      4m 24s
    19. Saving variations within a single file with the Snapshot command
      3m 27s
  8. 19m 16s
    1. Copying and pasting settings across files
      1m 52s
    2. Processing multiple files in Camera Raw
      4m 22s
    3. Saving and using a library of Camera Raw presets
      5m 47s
    4. Saving multiple files in Camera Raw
      3m 36s
    5. Using Image Processor to batch process multiple files
      3m 39s
  9. 27m 6s
    1. Opening files from Bridge
      3m 9s
    2. Customizing the interface in Photoshop
      5m 16s
    3. Managing panels
      5m 1s
    4. Switching and saving workspaces
      3m 45s
    5. Switching tools using the keyboard
      3m 21s
    6. Customizing the keyboard shortcuts
      6m 34s
  10. 22m 49s
    1. Working with tabbed documents
      2m 51s
    2. Arranging documents
      3m 37s
    3. Stopping Photoshop from tabbing documents
      2m 49s
    4. Panning, zooming, and using the Rotate View tool
      9m 51s
    5. Cycling through the different screen modes
      3m 41s
  11. 26m 19s
    1. Understanding file formats
      8m 26s
    2. Choosing the resolution you need
      5m 15s
    3. Understanding Resize vs. Resample
      9m 40s
    4. How big a print can you make with your image?
      2m 58s
  12. 59m 15s
    1. Using Undo and the History panel
      6m 40s
    2. Using crop options
      4m 20s
    3. Understanding Hide vs. Delete for the Crop tool
      3m 52s
    4. Cropping to the perfect print size
      3m 51s
    5. Making the canvas bigger with the Crop tool
      5m 2s
    6. Making the canvas bigger using the Canvas Size command
      4m 57s
    7. Straightening a crooked image
      4m 21s
    8. Removing keystoning from buildings
      2m 6s
    9. Using the Perspective Crop tool
      2m 4s
    10. Scaling, skewing, and rotating with Free Transform
      8m 29s
    11. Nondestructive transformations with Smart Objects
      3m 56s
    12. Warping images
      4m 48s
    13. Preserving important elements with Content-Aware Scale
      4m 49s
  13. 41m 55s
    1. Exploring layer basics
      13m 25s
    2. Loading, selecting, and transforming layers
      9m 28s
    3. Organizing layers into layer groups
      8m 47s
    4. Merging, rasterizing, and flattening layers
      10m 15s
  14. 1h 15m
    1. Using the Marquee and Lasso tools
      11m 41s
    2. Combining selections
      6m 40s
    3. Converting a selection into a layer mask
      7m 40s
    4. Using the Quick Selection tool and Refine Edge
      7m 12s
    5. Selecting soft-edged objects using Refine Edge
      9m 28s
    6. Touching up a layer mask with the Brush tool
      5m 42s
    7. Changing the opacity, size, and hardness of the painting tools
      9m 9s
    8. Blending images with a gradient layer mask
      4m 55s
    9. Combining multiple exposures with layer masks
      5m 5s
    10. Making selections with Color Range
      5m 17s
    11. Selecting with Focus Mask
      3m 10s
  15. 42m 5s
    1. Introducing adjustment layers
      3m 29s
    2. Starting with a preset
      2m 36s
    3. Improving tonal quality with Levels
      7m 32s
    4. Increasing midtone contrast with Curves
      5m 7s
    5. Removing a color cast with Auto Color
      2m 37s
    6. Changing the color temperature with Photo Filter
      1m 56s
    7. Shifting colors with Hue/Saturation
      5m 39s
    8. Making washed-out colors pop with Vibrance
      2m 7s
    9. Converting color to black and white
      3m 32s
    10. Creating traditional darkroom toning effects
      2m 51s
    11. Controlling which layers are affected by an adjustment layer
      3m 49s
    12. Three different ways to add an adjustment layer
  16. 24m 41s
    1. Adjusting shadows and highlights
      5m 49s
    2. Replacing color using Selective Color
      5m 39s
    3. Using fill layers to create a hand-painted look
      7m 18s
    4. Using a gradient fill layer to add a color wash
      5m 55s
  17. 46m 27s
    1. Removing blemishes with the Healing Brush and Patch tools
      10m 21s
    2. A quick technique for smoothing skin and pores
      3m 4s
    3. Making teeth bright and white
      2m 47s
    4. Brightening eyes, to make a person appear more alert
      6m 31s
    5. Taming flyaway hair
      4m 53s
    6. De-emphasizing wrinkles with the Healing Brush
      1m 53s
    7. Body sculpting with Liquify
      5m 6s
    8. Removing unwanted details with Content-Aware Fill and Patch (CC 2014.1)
      5m 34s
    9. Removing unwanted details with Content-Aware Fill
      6m 18s
  18. 22m 47s
    1. Creating panoramas with Photomerge and Auto-Blend
      5m 50s
    2. Combining multiple frames of an action sequence
      6m 21s
    3. Swapping heads in a family portrait
      4m 3s
    4. Working with bracketed exposures (HDR)
      6m 33s
  19. 1h 0m
    1. Overview of filters
      3m 3s
    2. Applying filters nondestructively with Smart Filters
      5m 56s
    3. Straightening images using the Adaptive Wide Angle filter
      5m 28s
    4. Creating a soft glow with the Gaussian Blur filter
      3m 23s
    5. Creating an infrared look with Diffuse Glow
      5m 4s
    6. Adding noise with the Add Noise filter
      7m 7s
    7. Sharpening an image with Unsharp Mask and Smart Sharpen
      7m 22s
    8. Giving an image texture with the Texturizer filter
      1m 53s
    9. Using the Field, Iris, and Tilt-Shift Blurs
      6m 9s
    10. Using the Spin and Path Blurs
      7m 38s
    11. Applying the Camera Raw filter
      2m 48s
    12. Applying a filter to multiple layers
      4m 11s
  20. 24m 3s
    1. Cycling through the blending modes
      5m 24s
    2. Scanning or photographing paper to add a deckled edge
      4m 55s
    3. Adding texture with blend modes
      1m 58s
    4. Making a cast shadow more realistic with Multiply
      5m 57s
    5. Sharpening an image with High Pass and Overlay
      2m 49s
    6. Adding a realistic off-center vignette
      3m 0s
  21. 35m 37s
    1. Exploring character (point) type
      11m 58s
    2. Adding paragraph (area) type
      4m 7s
    3. Adding type on a path
      7m 3s
    4. Clipping an image inside type
      3m 41s
    5. Warping type
      2m 36s
    6. Defining character and paragraph styles
      6m 12s
  22. 24m 13s
    1. Using the shape tools
      13m 45s
    2. Custom shape layers
      6m 15s
    3. Adding a keyline to an image
      4m 13s
  23. 49m 44s
    1. Adding a drop shadow effect (CC 2014.1)
      9m 58s
    2. Adding a drop shadow effect
      8m 57s
    3. Adding edges, textures, and color overlays using styles (CC 2014.1)
      4m 19s
    4. Adding edges, textures, and color overlays using styles
      5m 11s
    5. Creating a transparent logo or watermark (CC 2014.1)
      4m 39s
    6. Creating a transparent logo or watermark
      4m 46s
    7. Knowing how and when to scale layer effects (CC 2014.1)
      6m 0s
    8. Knowing how and when to scale layer effects
      5m 54s
  24. 11m 43s
    1. Creating contact sheets
      4m 29s
    2. Creating PDF presentations
      3m 25s
    3. Saving for the web
      3m 49s
  25. 23m 9s
    1. Working with video clips
      12m 14s
    2. Adding special effects to video files
      5m 56s
    3. Adding pans and zooms to still images
      4m 59s
  26. 1m 4s
    1. Next steps
      1m 4s

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Watch the Online Video Course Photoshop CC Essential Training (2013)
15h 37m Beginner Jun 17, 2013 Updated Oct 06, 2014

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

Learning how to use Adobe Photoshop efficiently and effectively is the best way to get the most out of your pixels and create stunning imagery. Master the fundamentals of this program with Julieanne Kost, and discover how to achieve the results you want with Photoshop and its companion programs, Bridge and Camera Raw. This comprehensive course covers nondestructive editing techniques using layers, masking, adjustment layers, blend modes, and Smart Objects. Find out how to perform common editing tasks, including lens correction, cropping and straightening, color and tonal adjustments, noise reduction, shadow and highlight detail recovery, sharpening, and retouching. Julieanne also shows how to achieve more creative effects with filters, layer effects, illustrative type, and the Photomerge command for creating panoramas and composites.

Topics include:
  • Using Bridge to batch rename files and add keywords and metadata to photos
  • Viewing, rating, filtering, and creating collections to isolate your best work
  • Comparing raw and JPEG file formats
  • Retouching and automating workflow with Camera Raw
  • Navigating documents and the Photoshop interface
  • Understanding file formats, resolution, canvas size, and print size
  • Cropping, straightening, transforming, warping, scaling, and resizing images
  • Selecting, stacking, aligning, and grouping layers
  • Making precise selections using the Marquee, Lasso, and Brush tools
  • Using Refine Edge, Quick Selection, and layer masks to isolate soft edge objects
  • Improving tone, contrast, and color selectively
  • Converting to black and white and tinting images
  • Retouching blemishes, smoothing skin, whitening teeth, and brightening eyes
  • Retouching with the Liquify, Content-Aware Fill, Healing Brush, and Patch tools
  • Merging multiple exposures
  • Making nondestructive changes with Smart Filters
  • Adding texture, edge effects, and drop shadows with blend modes
  • Working with type
  • Creating, modifying, and combining shapes using the Shape tools
  • Adding layer effects
  • Saving and sharing images via contact sheets, web galleries, and Save For Web
  • Editing video and audio clips
  • Panning and zooming still photos
Julieanne Kost

Merging, rasterizing, and flattening layers

As your documents contain more and more layers, sometimes those file sizes will grow quite large. So people are always asking me when I would want to flatten my image or when I might want to merge layers together in order to save on file size. Honestly, I think that the flexibility that you gain by keeping all of your layers separate far outweighs any decrease in file size that you gain by merging the layers together or flattening the images. But with that in mind, there are a few ways that we can decrease the file size. Let's go ahead and open Composite02, double-click on it, it opens in Bridge, and let's take a look at our Layers panel.

Well, we can see that in the small images group, I have three layers, and all three layers are smart objects. Now, if I'm absolutely positive that these are at the size that they're going to remain, meaning that I'm never going to want to change my mind in the future and scale them up or scale them down then. It might be to my advantage to resterize the images at the size that they are, because if I have one of these layers selected.

And we choose Edit and then Free Transform, we can see that we're scaling these down to 34%, so Photoshop is still keeping track of the file at 100%. We're not even using half of the original information, let's escape out of there by tapping the Escape key. And in order to rastaurize it I'll select the layer and then rasturize and smart object so now you can see that I no longer have that smart object icon, and if I use free transform.

And we make this larger, you can see I'm going to be losing image quality so I don't want to do that. I want to use Cmd+z or Ctrl+Z to undo. So once you do this, that's the size that your image is going to be. But let's go ahead and do that to the next layer. We could go to layer rasterize smart object. And in the last one I'll just write mouse lcick and I can also choose to rasterize my layer. So now I might also want to merge some layers together and in fact all three of these small images because they're not overlapping.

I could, technically, merge them without losing any quality, but, I do lose some flexibility, right? Because right now, if I wanted to change the order. Like, I wanted to move the blue trees, I could use my move tool and just start dragging those up. And then, if I wanted to select the white trees, we could use that context sensitive menu, or we could use the Control key on the Mac. And then click and select the white trees. Now I could select those and move them down.

So its very easy for me to reposition the individual layers right now. If I were to select all three of these layers on my layers panel and then choose from the flyout menu to merge layers or I could also choose from the layer menu. ll the way down here at the bottom to Merge Layers. Well now I've put them all on a single layer and I've kind of reduced the ease at which I could reposition them and when you do that, because none of them were overlapping, I'm actually not saving that much space anyway.

So that's probably not something I would do so we'll just do a little Cmd+Z or Ctrl+Z. And of course if I merged 2 layers that are overlapping, for example if I come down to the logo layer and I wanted to merge that with maybe the trunks layer. Well, let's see what happens. If I select them both, and I choose Layer, we come down to Merge Layers. Not only did it merge them together, but it also converted that Trunks layer. It converted it from being a Smart Object to just a rasterized layer. And now this black logo is embedded in here.

There's no way that I can separate that black line, that black line's taken over the photograph underneath it. This is kind of like doing an oil painting, right, where you just paint right on top of the paint underneath. There's really no way to separate the paint once it's been mixed. So I'm going to use command Z or control Z. To undo that. So if you want to maintain your level of flexibility, then I would suggest that you really try to keep all of your layers intact and keep those smart objects as smart objects.

Now, let's talk about flattening the image because you might want to send this to someone as a JPEG or post it online. Well, I know that its tempting to go ahead and choose layer and then flatten image but the problem with doing this is that if I forget I've done this and I hit Cmd+S to save this file right now. Photoshop's actually going to save this flattened version over my layered version so that's something that I don't want to do and I don't really want to put myself in this situation where I might accidentally do this.

So let's do a quick undo, we can undo that flatten image. And instead if I need to save this as a JPEG all I need to do is choose file and then save as. Now, you might be thinking, but JPEGs can't be layered. And you're absolutely right, when I select JPEG as my format here, from the list, you can see that Photoshop is going to warn me that it can't save layers. But that's okay. We'll go ahead and call this composite and let's go ahead and call it flat, so I know.

And actually, I'm going to keep that O2 on there. Because that just tells me that this is a flattened version of that specific version of the composite. So now when I click Save, and I pick my options here in the JPEG dialogue. I'll go ahead and leave the quality set to ten, because let's take a look at the file size here. When I move it all the way to 12, I've got a one meg file, but if I move my quality down to 10, you can see that my file size was cut in half, and in fact, if I move it down to 8, it's cut down even further.

Now, I have to be a little careful, because PhotoShop is showing me a preview, but it's previewing my image at 50%. So if I want to see this at 100%, I can use the Cmd key and the Plus key or the Ctrl key and the Plus key on Windows to zoom in to 100%. So that I can actually see what this file's going to look at after it's been save. If I move all the way down to the small file, I'm not sure if you can see this on the video or not. But I'm giving this audio effect in this, big blocks are starting to shock. In fact, you can really see in the colored area of the small brown image. So I know that I don't want to be that small of an image because it's having a compressive way too much.

So, I just use the slider and skid it over and I think of we get around eight with an image like this because you mean all of these images have motion blower on them any way I think I can get away with a quality of 8. If I had an image that had a portrait, I'd want to make sure that I'm looking at the person's eyes and make sure that I don't bring the quality down so that I'm losing the sharpness of the eye. So, I'll go ahead and choose 10 and click OK. But, look at my layers panel. Photoshop is leaving the layered document up, so that I can still work with this layered document.

It saved off a copy of the JPEG, so let's get over to bridge. I'll use Cmd+Opt+O or Ctrl+Alt+0 on Windows, and we can see we still have my composite o two, that's my layered PSD file. But Photoshop has saved off a version, this composite 02 flat.jpeg. So when we return back to Photoshop we can still continue to work with our Layer document, so I prefer saving off my JPEG files that way...

It just gives me the opportunity to make a mistake when I flattened it, to accidentally save that flattened version over my composite file. Two things that I just want to quickly mention. These are P, and they're underneath the Photoshop menu on the Mac or under the Edit menu on Windows. If we come down to Preferences, and then we come down to File Handling. You'll notice that there are two options here that are checked on. I really like both of these options, The top one, the Save in Background, this just means that if I have a really large file.

Like maybe I have, you know, a 500 MEG file, and I go to save that file. Instead of having a little progress bar come up across the screen, where it tells me how much time it's going to take to save, and, really, preventing me from doing anything else. This allows Photoshop to simply save in the background, so that I can tell Photoshop to save and then I can continue working on my file without that progress bar stopping kind of the flow of my creativity. So that's a great feature and I would leave that checked on and also this Automatically Save Recovery Information. You can change how often Photoshop auto-saves in the background but really this is just in case you crash like if there's a power outage or something and your machine just, you know, has to get shut down. Before you have time to save, if you hadn't saved for maybe an hour which I would recommend I would really recommend that you save, save often save every 5 or 10 minutes, but you know, sometimes when you really get into Photoshop, it's hard to remember to save.

But Photoshop is actually saving every certain increment of time, in that way if you do crash the next time you open that document, Photoshop will open two versions of the document. It will open this temporary file that is saving and it will also open the version that you double clicked on and then you can decide which one you want to save. Excellent, so let's click OK there. If you want to maintain the most flexible work flow, I think you should leave your layers independent for as long as possible. I would prefer not to rasterize them, and I don't usually like to merge them down.

Otherwise, I feel like I'm limiting my ability to make these nondestructive changes to my images at a later time when I might change my mind.

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about Photoshop CC Essential Training (2013) .

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Q: This course was updated on 01/16/2014. What changed?
A: When Creative Cloud applications are updated, we refresh our training to make sure it covers the latest features and interface changes from Adobe. This update covers changes to Camera Raw, including nondestructive cropping, workflow and output settings, and the ability to save multiple files automatically.
Q: This course was updated on 6/18/2014. What changed?
A: In June 2014 Adobe released new features for Photoshop CC and added enhancements to several existing features. We added movies to introduce the new Focus Mask and Blur Gallery features, and changed several movies to reflect updates to instant type preview, font search, Typekit, Liquify, Content-Aware Fill, Adobe Camera Raw, and Smart Guides. 
Q: This course was updated on 10/06/2014. What changed?
A: We updated this course to reflect the October 2014 changes to Photoshop CC. There are 16 new movies, which are indicated by the "(CC 2014.1)" tag that appears next to their names.
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