You probably know how and why you adjust Layer Opacity of a layer in Adobe Photoshop – so that the layer is transparent enough to have the pixels on the layer below show though. But sometimes you want to keep the Layer Styles you’ve applied, such as drop shadows, glows, or bevels, completely visible. This is where the Layer Fill option comes into play. The Layer Fill only affects the actual pixels on the layer, but leaves any Layer Styles you’ve applied to the layer intact. As you can see in the image above. The white box on the Shape layer has a few Layer Effects applied to it. I want those effects to be remain fully visible, but I want to hide the box. Using the Fill slider, I set the Fill opacity to 0%, which hides the white shape completely, but leaves the Layer Effects visible.
When you have a Photoshop document that contains many layers and layer effects, it can sometimes take longer than you want to open. That’s the price you pay for convenience. But there are certain times when you simply want to save the PSD file for use on the Web or for another use that doesn’t require the added file size and convenience of the layers. You could open the file normally, then flatten the image via the Layers panel flyout menu, but that’s too much work. Instead, try this tip. You can open a flattened version of your layered Photoshop file simply by holding down the Option and Shift keys while double clicking the file in the Finder, or opening it from the Open menu in Photoshop. Note: In some rare cases, Photoshop may pop-open a dialog box asking if you wish to use the composite data. Just hit OK and let it open. I’m not sure why it does this, but I’ve found that it usually happens on older Photoshop files.
If you’re like me, you tend to end up with many layers in your Photoshop files. I generally create layer folders to organize them, but sometimes that still isn’t enough, so I turn to color coding the layers. You can color-code layers in the Layers panel by right-clicking (Control + Click) on the layer icon, selecting Layer Properties, clicking the color drop down menu, and finally selecting the color you want before hitting OK. That’s a lot of work to stay organized. Thankfully, there’s a much quicker way. Right-click on the Eye icon of the layer you wish to color code. A flyout menu appears in which you can select the color for the layer. Keeping your layers organized is key in an agency environment where more than one person will work on a file before it is made into a high resolution PDF to send off for printing. Having 37 layers all named “Layer 1, Layer 2, Layer 2 copy” is a real pain when you’re looking for one specific object.
While most people know you can adjust the transparency of layers and brushes in Adobe Photoshop manually by using the sliders in the appropriate tool panels, many don’t know you can do it easily with just the keyboard. To adjust the transparency of a layer using the keyboard, simply click the layer you wish to adjust and type the percentage of transparency you wish to use. If you want the layer to be 54% transparent, just type 54. The same tip works for adjusting the flow (transparency) of brushes. Just select the brush tool (hit the “b” key) and type a number. If you want the brush to have a flow of 35%, just type 35. I love this tip for making small adjustments, rather than using the picky sliders which always seem to be a pain to make accurate adjustments easily.
If you’re working on a multi-layer document in Photoshop and you want to copy a portion of the image into a new document, there’s no need to flatten the image first. You can easily do it by making a selection around the area you want to copy and select Edit>Copy Merged from the menu, or hit Command + Shift + C. This will copy all the artwork inside the selection area, regardless of what layer it is on. Then you can paste it into another Photoshop document. Just be aware that when you paste the artwork, it will be a flattened piece of artwork.
Many times when you’re working on a Photoshop document that has many layers, you want to see just one layer at a time. It’s a pain to turn off all the other layers, especially if you don’t use Layer Groups. You can quickly turn off all but the one layer you want by holding down the Option key and clicking on the eyeball next to the layer you want to see – all the other layers will automatically hide. To get all your layers turned back on, simply repeat the process.
If you have the occasion to combine all your layers in your Photoshop document, yet still have access to all the layers at the same time, you can use this little trick to do it. Create a new blank layer on top of all your other layers and hit Command + Shift + Option + E. This merges all the visible layers onto that new layer you created AND keeps all the old layers intact for further adjustment.
An annoying fact when designing in Photoshop is that you quickly accumulate a multitude of layers. Even with Photoshop’s advancements in the layers arena, it gets out of hand quickly. The best thing you can do is delete unused layers. A quick way to delete multiple layers in Adobe Photoshop is to Shift+click or Command+Click the layers you don’t want, then click on the Layer Palette Trash icon. Don’t forget that you can save a Layer Comp before you delete the layers, that way you can quickly return them if necessary.
This may seem like a very basic technique, yet I see very few Photoshop users making use of it. If you want to quickly change layers. Press “V” to select the Move tool. Then Command + Click the object you want to work on. That’s it. The correct layer becomes active and you don’t need to navigate to your layers palette and scroll through the list to activate the layer you want to work on.
Many times, you have several type layers in a Photoshop document and you want to change the font, color or size for all of them. Normally you would apply the changes to each layer individually. But did you know you could do them all at once? To perform this trick, simply link all the type layers in the Layers Palette that you want to change, select one of the linked type layers to activate it, hold the Shift key down, then change the attributes you want in the Type palette (kerning, leading, font, size, color, etc…). The attributes you change on the active type layer will be carried out on all the linked text layers at the same time.