Flattening and saving files

When you have edited all the layers in your image, you can make a copy of the file with the layers flattened. Flattening a file's layers merges them into a single background, greatly reducing the file size. However, you shouldn't flatten an image until you are certain you're satisfied with all your design decisions. In most cases, you should retain a copy of the file with its layers intact, in case you need to edit a layer later.

To appreciate what flattening does, notice the two numbers for the file size in the Info bar at the bottom of the application window (Windows) or image window (Mac OS).

The first number represents what the file size would be if you flattened the image. The second number represents the current file size (without flattening). In our example, the flattened file would be about 900 K but the current file is about 4 MB—approximately four times larger than the flattened version would be, so flattening is well worth doing in this case.

1 If the type tool (T) is currently selected in the toolbox, select any other tool, to be sure that you're no longer in type-editing mode. Choose File > Save, to be sure that all your changes have been saved in the file.

2 Choose Image > Duplicate.

3 In the Duplicate Image dialog box, type 05Flat.psd to name the file and specify the Lessons/Lesson05 folder. Click Save.

4 Close the 05Start.psd file, leaving only the 05Flat.psd file open.

5 On the Layers palette menu, choose Flatten Image.

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Duplicate Layer... Delete Layer

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Layer Properties...

Blending Options...

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Merge Visible

Flatten Image

Palette Options...

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6 Choose File > Save. Even though you selected Save rather than Save As, the Save As dialog box appears.

7 Click Save to accept the default settings and save the flattened file.

Now you have a flattened version of the file while the original file and all its layers remain intact. You can now continue to work in the flattened file and even add more layers above the flattened Background layer.

If you want to flatten only some of the layers in a file, you can click the eye icons to hide the layers you don't want to flatten, and then choose Merge Visible on the Layers palette menu.

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