Storing Alternate Designs with Layer Comps

During the normal design process, you will often create several variations upon your design. For example when designing a lower-third graphic you might try positioning the logo in different positions as well as using a drop shadow or glow to help offset it. Instead of having a separate document for each variation, you can harness the power of Layer Comps.

Layer Comps were first introduced with Photoshop CS. When properly used, Layer Comps can significantly extend design flexibility. Essentially, a layer comp is a snapshot of your Layers palette, which allows you to memorize different combinations of layers. A layer comp can record three types of layer options:

• Layer visibility

• Layer position within the .psd file

• Layer appearance (use of Layer Styles)

How to Create Layer Comps

In order to practice with Layer Comps, open the file Ch03_ Layer_Comps.psd from the DVD-ROM. Then make sure the Layer Comp window is visible (if not, choose Window>Layer Comps).

This document already has six layer comps added to it. If you click the forward or backward triangles at the bottom of the Layer Comps palette, you can apply each Layer Comp. These six options showcase variations in color, font, and logo position. There are three additional options to create.

Step 1. Select the first Layer Comp called Orange 1 and make it active by clicking in the column next to its name.

Step 2. Disable the visibility for the Orange layer by clicking its eyeball icon. Then enable visibility for the Red layer.

Step 3. Click the Create New Layer Comp button at the bottom of the Layer Comp palette. Name the Comp Red 1 and choose to memorize both Visibility and Position. Click OK to store the Layer Comp.

Step 4. Turn off the visibility icon for Font 1 and enable the visibility for Font 2.

Step 5. Click the Create New Layer Comp button at the bottom of the Layer Comp palette. Name the Comp Red 2 and choose to memorize both Visibility and Position. Click OK to store the Layer Comp.

Step 6. The final Layer Comp involves a position move. Since it is most similar to a previous state, select and activate Orange 3.

Step 7. Duplicate the Orange 3 state by contextual-clicking and choosing Duplicate Layer Comp.

Step 8. Disable the visibility for the Orange layer by clicking its eyeball icon. Then enable visibility for the Red layer.

Step 9. Click the Update Layer Comp button at the bottom of the Layer Comp palette.

Step 10. Double-click on the Orange 3 copy layer and rename it Red 3. Drag it to its proper position at the bottom of the Layer Comp window.

How to Update Layer Comps

If you delete or merge layers, you can create an invalid state where a Layer Comp can no longer be used. You'll be alerted by an exclamation point when this happens. At this point, you have three options:

• Choose Edit>Step Backwards or press Z (^3+^0+Q) until the warning is removed.

• Ignore the warning and accept that some (or all) of the layers in the comp may be lost.

• Update the Layer Comp by clicking the Update Layer Comp button.

How to Use Layer Comps

You can now toggle between the comps to see the different states of the image. Layer comps can't remember font changes to text layers or the color of pixel on a layer. If you want to change color, try using layer styles to color your layers, and not actually

| Layer Comps * |

a

Last Document State

Orange 1

Orange 2

Orange 3

Orange I copy

r

Blue 1

Blue 2

Blue 3

Red 1

Red 2

T«l * {Ml JIT*

| Update Layer Comp 1

| Layer Comps x j_

u

Last Document State

A

Orange 1

A

r

Orange 2

&

r

Orange 1

&

Slue 1

A

Blue 2

a

r

Slue 3

&

r

Red 1

&

Red 2

&

r

Red 3

&

MIHC

la 1 4

Video #6 Layer Comps in Action

You'll find a video tutorial on the DVD-ROM that will help illustrate how Layer Comps can be used.

fill the pixels. Layer Comps have several ways that they can be used to streamline a project:

• Layer comps are useful for storing alternate designs with one document.

• Layer comps allow you to have several options ready to quickly show to your client.

• You can also save all Layer Comps out as separate PSD files by choosing File>Script>Layer Comps to Files.

• You can create a PDF file to send your client via e-mail to get feedback. Choose File>Script>Layer Comps to PDF.

You may find that Layer Comps are a helpful addition to your workflow... or not. Layer comps cannot store all design choices you may need, but their flexibility can prove useful. Like all features, give them a thorough workout and see what you think.

Export a Smart Object for Additional Use

The good news is you can also export Smart Object layers as individual files in order to work with them. Just choose Layer> Smart Object>Export Contents. Raster layers will create a Photoshop document and Vector files will create an Illustrator file.

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