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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.
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