Layer Comps - Adobe Photoshop

This is a feature new to Photoshop CS. I used to watch in wonder at my much more organized officemates. (Nori, this means you.) They would have beautifully labeled layer sets, adjustment layers with descriptive names, and no problem recreating a session.I, whose idea of organized normally involves piles of some sort, had a hard time to say the least. But now— now!—I shall bask in the same organized glory of my officemates, as layer comps save me from my own vices. You’re probably a bit curious what exactly layer comps are. The Layer Comps feature records a layer’s position and details in the Layers palette. A snapshot of the state of the Layers palette is taken and stored in its Layer Comps palette, complete with descriptions, editability, and exportability. The best way to understand this, of course, is through example. I worked on a yellow cup. The Art Director wasn’t quite sure of the color combinations that I used, so she asked me to create a green and orange cup variation for her to look at.

  1. Make sure the Layer Comps palette is visible in the palette dock. If not, go to Window > Layer Comps to display the palette. For this tutorial, drag it out of the dock so that it is readily available.
  2. Drag out the Layer Comps palette

  3. Create the look you want for a color variation. I added a Hue/Sat adjustment layer , but you could create your look by any means. Keep in mind, however, that the layer comp works by remembering the setup of your layers. If you simply paint green with a brush onto the same layer as your yellow cup, layer comps does not know the difference.
  4. When you are ready to save a layer comp, you can either press the button or go to the Layer Comps palette menu and choose New Layer Comp.

  5. When you have your desired look, click the New Layer Comp button to bring up the dialog box in Figure . The New Layer Comp dialog box asks you to name your layer comp, provides options, and even gives you a space for comments. If you add a comment, you see a triangle next to the layer comp name. Clicking the triangle expands the space and shows your comment.
  6. The New Layer Comp dialog box offers many options.

  7. Continue creating variations as I’ve done in Figure. You can add layers, use adjustment layers, and use layer effects. Photoshop remembers your configuration each time you save a layer comp.
  8. Create a few variations and save their configurations.

You now have a few variations to show the Art Director. You could just click through the layer comps and show her at your desk, but wouldn’t it be better to just send her each comp as a separate image? Read on to find out how you can automate this.

Caution: If you do anything that jeopardizes Photoshop’s ability to recreate the layer comp, such as deleting a layer, you get an alarm icon next to each comp that cannot be restored without that layer. Supposedly, Photoshop gives a warning if you try to rotate, crop, or resize, but I did not receive any warning or errors when I took such actions on my iBook. Should you receive an alarm icon, but decide that you want to get rid of the icon and not the Layer comp, do the following: Right-click (Windows) or Control+click (Mac OS) the caution icon to see the pop-up menu that lets you choose either the Clear Layer Comp Warning or the Clear All Layer Comp Warnings command.

Saving Out a Layer Comp as a File

Now comes a very cool addition to using the Layer Comp function: Saving out each comp in its own file.Consider some things before you do this:

  • If you want to save out only a few comps, Command+select (Win: Ctrl+select) them before going to the Scripts option.
  • If you had a very long comment on any of the comps, you might want to reduce the comments, as the names have the layer comp name and as much of the comments as can fit.

Now onto the steps:

  1. Go to File > Scripts > Layer Comps to Files to bring up the Layer Comps to Files dialog box
  2. Layer Comps to Files dialog box.

  3. Choose a destination and a prefix name for your file.
  4. Indicate whether you want to save only selected layer comps. Choose the file type and any compression or compatibility options associated with your file type.
  5. Click Run and Photoshop saves a copy of each layer comp to its own file. When this is finished, you receive a completion successful dialog box. Pretty nifty, eh?

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