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Nov 16

Layer Comps in Photoshop CS

2004 at 02.06 am posted by Veerle Pieters

Layers Comps are new in Photoshop CS. For those who wonder how these work here is my story… Funny thing is I’ve never used this new feature and I’m sure this is a handy tool. Once you know how it works it is indispensable.

Guess I’m just one of those users who doesn’t take the time to open the manual and read all about the new features. Just started exploring myself, and even for this I found myself not taking the time enough to do this more often. The Layer Comps feature is one of those features I’m thinking about for a long time to explore but just didn’t take the time to do it. Every project I’m working on has to be done by yesterday and so I don’t find the extra time to sit back, relax and do some exploring. The time “left” is to think about design and being creative… Maybe this is a bit wrong since new features can save me heaps of time… I know I can’ help it. Anyway I’m glad I have my blog… I have to think about what I’ll write next and this way I make time to explore, so you learn from it, but believe me, I learn a lot too ;-)

Here we go… Layer Comps are a bit like “snapshots” of the Layers palette. It records the stacking order and visibility of each layer, as well as the layer styles and the position of the content of each layer in the image. It’s not like the snapshot feature in the History palette since Layer Comps are actually preserved when you save your document and reopen it afterwards.

Layer Comps in Photoshop CS

Layer Comps in Photoshop CS

Layer Comps in Photoshop CS - using left and next arrow to switch between compsIn other words this feature is handy if you want to save different versions of a design or image all together bundled in 1 document. If you need to show your client different variations of a design this could be a way to do it. It is also ideal to experiment with different layers styles, since you can all save them in Layer Comps. Switching between the different Comps can be done using the next and previous buttons at he bottom of the palette.

Another thing I’ve noticed is that the file size stays almost as good as the same (each layer comp adds about only 1 KB). Haven’t used this feature so far but now that I got to know it I’ll use it now and then to save different variations of designs. I’m wondering, do you often use this Layer Comp feature? Do you find it useful? What are your experiences with this and other new features in Photoshop CS? You know I’m always eager to find out other people’s methods ;-)

Want to learn more?

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permalink this comment Bogdan Manolache Tue Nov 16, 2004 at 06.36 am

I haven’t used this feature until now but I will play with it to see how it can help me. To be true, I never heard of it :) ... I promise that when Photoshop 9 will be released I will explore all the new features :)



permalink this comment anne Tue Nov 16, 2004 at 02.02 pm

this time (for once) i knew about this because i risked an eye at the CS premium dvd box when i just had spent all my money on it.. ;o)
i find it useful but i didn’t really got used to always do it on the jobs - maybe i’m still too stuck in my ole fashioned layer-set-routines. speaking of that: i was even more fascinated that it is now possible to make a set of single layers AND previously created sets.



permalink this comment seth Tue Nov 16, 2004 at 06.13 pm

I don’t remember when I found out about that feature, but I immediately started playing with it, and thought it was the greatest thing ever.

Haven’t use it since.

I guess it is really tough to teach this dog new tricks.



permalink this comment Tim Hill Tue Nov 16, 2004 at 08.42 pm

I think one of the best features of the layers comp, is that you can have different layer styles for each comp, but on the same layer.
(eg one comp might have a stroke applied and the other comp would have a bevel, but its just the same layer)

You can change this in the options panel.

Doing site layouts is great with this feature I have found. Have one psd file that can show multiple pages.



permalink this comment Soroush Wed Nov 17, 2004 at 04.44 am

Thanks Veerle for the tips on Layer Comps! I didn’t know they existed (like lots of other things in Photoshop CS!)! Many thanks! I guess I’ll go ans play around with it now!



permalink this comment Dave Marks Wed Nov 17, 2004 at 08.54 am

Sounds interesting… must explore!

Can you recommend a good book?
I’m mostly a web “programmer”, but am trying to get into design more.

A good book on all the photoshop features and how to use them I’m sure would help wonders.




permalink this comment Veerle Wed Nov 17, 2004 at 09.06 am

Hi all, I’m surprised there are a lot of people like me, you know it’s there but you stick by the “old” rules or don’t take the time more often to know more about it. I thought I was more an exception. Thanks for taking the time to comment here ;-) It’s interesting to know what others do.

@Dave Marks, I’m not much of a book reader if it comes to graphical apps. Although I have a few on Flash, Director and since a few months now on CSS and web standards ;-) What I prefer are DVDs with tutorials, like those from Total Training. They are really worthwhile to buy. I’ve bought those for Illustrator about a year ago and they are superb.



permalink this comment DirtyF Wed Nov 17, 2004 at 10.39 am

Thanks Veerle for pointing this feature out. I found an extract of a DVD lesson on layer comps here :

Here’s another one about another feature i didn’t knew :



permalink this comment Josh Wed Nov 17, 2004 at 11.08 am

If I used Photoshop more for layout comps, then I would use the Layer Comps to have everything in one file.  I normally either use Fireworks for comps or just start desiging with CSS (I find this normally works best).  These graphics programs are so big these days that you could probably learn one new thing every day and still not know everything by the time the next version came out.



permalink this comment Jeff Wed Nov 17, 2004 at 04.55 pm

I’ll probably respond again (you can merge my comments if I do) but ‘time to site back’ should read ‘time to sit back’ I assume.



permalink this comment Veerle Thu Nov 18, 2004 at 07.32 am

@DirtyF: Thanks for those links, especially the last one is interesting and can be useful in certain situations.

@Jeff: Small mistake but it is fixed now ;-)



permalink this comment Jesse J. Anderson Tue Nov 23, 2004 at 02.17 am

wow!  This will be an indespensable feature for me, I always end up with 200 layers in my projects because when I comp up my websites I usually have any flash intro spots and menus and stuff all in one file.  Don’t know how I missed this feature on the upgrade (I don’t read the manuals but I usally read about the ‘new stuff’).


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