Articles, Blog

How to Use Layer Comps in Adobe Photoshop

September 3, 2019

– [Instructor]
Hello, and welcome to this Design Cuts
video tutorial, and today we’re
going to be looking at working with layer
comps in Photoshop. We’re gonna look
at what they are and how you can
make use of them. The illustration
that we’re going to be working on is this one, and in it I’ve used a couple
of Design Cuts elements. So let’s have a quick look at
the elements that I’ve used. I’ve used a texture from The Ultimate Texture
and Photography Kit. This kit has heaps and heaps
of really wonderful textures, and I’ve used one of those
in that illustration. I’ve also used a bird from
this 30 Bird Illustrations kit. This is a Vector kit, but there are also
some png files there. So what I did is just open one of the png files in Photoshop. Here is the bird that I’ve used. And what I did on
the layer below is I just did a rough
painting of some white to capture the white
behind the bird. I’ve also added a small shadow
beneath the bird’s feet. I’ve got this texture here, which is blended in using
the Linear Burn blend mode. There’s a white layer underneath
that has a screen blend that’s just killing a
little bit of the colour in this multi-colored
layer here. And this layer has
a motion blur on it, which cuts out the
sort-of sharp edges on the original layer. So this image has been built
up with a number of layers. And, if I were presenting
this to my client, I would have a couple of ways that I wanted to
show them this image, a couple of choices at least
that I want them to consider. One of them is the image
as it is here right now. But then I may want to take
out the white background, I might want to say well
what about the image without that white behind it. Or what if I wanted to use a different blend
mode for this texture? Or perhaps take out
the motion blur here? So there are quite a few ways that I could present
this image to my client. But the actual process
of presenting the image in different ways
can be rather tricky, well it can be tricky if
you don’t use layer comps. So let’s see how layer
comps are going to help us. And I’m gonna choose Window
and then Layer Comps. Now I’m using Photoshop CC, but layer comps have been in
Photoshop for some time now. They’ve just been added
to in Photoshop CC, but the tools we’re gonna use have been around
for quite a while. It’s really just a basic
introduction to layer comps. So first of all, I’m
gonna take the image as it is right now, I’m gonna say this is
one of the versions that I want to show my client. So I’m gonna click
here on the New icon, and I’m just gonna
call this version one. And I’m gonna put down here
what is in that version one. So it’s got a white
background on the bird, it’s got shadows, and a motion blur. This is enough of a description to identify this
layer comp to me, but you can add some more detail
in here should you wish to. We’re just gonna click okay. So there’s my first layer comp. Now I’m gonna set up my
document another way, another one of the ways that I would want to
present it to my client, perhaps without this
white background and perhaps without
the motion blur. So now I’m going to set
up a second layer comp. I’m gonna call this version two, and I’m going to just call this no white background
and no motion blur. Now you can see here that
we’ve got various options that we select to embed
in our layer comp. One of them is the
visibility of layers, and that’s gonna be
important to us here because we’ve made
some layers invisible. And we want the layer
comp to be storing that invisible layer data here, so that the layer
comp when we ask to see what the image looks like is going to recognise that
these layers were here, and it’s gonna hide them for us. Now Position of Layer
sort-of sounds like it might have to do
with the position of the layer in
the stacking order. Well, it doesn’t, so
don’t be misled by that. I’m gonna show you in a minute
exactly what Position means. Appearance is going to be
important in this case too, because we turned
off this motion blur. And we want Photoshop to
take note of that fact. And when we ask to see the
image as it was in this version, we want Photoshop to
disable that motion blur. So I’ll just click okay. And let’s make one
other layer comp, and for this I’m
gonna move the bird. So I’m gonna take
the bird layer. I’m gonna start pulling
it over to the side here. Now in this case I want the
bird with no white fill. But, had I wanted
the white fill, I would have displayed
all of these layers, selected all of them,
and moved the bird. So let’s go on and create
a layer comp for this. And this is what we mean by
the position of the layer. The bird has moved to the right, and we want the layer comp to store that moved layer data. So I’ll click okay. So far we’ve created three
different layer comps. So let’s have a look and see what’s actually
stored in the layer comp and what’s gonna happen
when we click to select it. Well I can click just here
to target the layer comp, but nothing’s happened. To be able to view
the image as it was when I created the layer comp, I would need to click
on this box here. And you can see what’s happened. This white layer
has been displayed as has the shadow
on the bird’s feet. When I click here
on version two, the visibility of those
layers has been disabled, and the motion blur
has been turned off. And in version three, well it’s gonna be version
two but with the layer moved. So this gives me
a really handy way of showing different
representations of this image to my client. But, of course, that
would require my client to be sitting beside me
or to be sharing a screen, for example, through
the Internet. But what if my client’s not
able to see the document as I click on each
of these layer comps? Well Photoshop has a
really handy export option. So what you can do is you can
choose File, and then Export, and choose Layer Comps to
Files or Layer Comps to PDF. Now in earlier
versions of Photoshop, this option was actually
in the Scripts area, because what you’re doing
is running a script. So in here would be
your Layer Comps to File or Layer Comps to PDF option. But it’s been moved recently
to the Export option. I’m gonna choose
Layer Comps to Files. This is a dialogue,
so it’s asking me where do I want to
put my layer comps? So I’m gonna click Browse. The image is already
going into the folder that I was working in, but I
wanna add a folder inside this. So I’m just gonna call
this Client Files. So I’m adding a folder
called Client Files into which my layer comps
are gonna be placed. The filename prefix for
each of my layer comps is going to be the file name,
which is Bird on Background. But I could call it
whatever I wanted to. Now these are going
to be named double-o, double-o one, double-o
two, for example. I can choose to only export
the selected layer comps, which is this one here, but, if I did
select this option, then all the layer
comps are going to be exported to
individual files. There’s a choice of file
format, bmp, jpeg, tif, and you can also export
them as pdf or psd files. I’m gonna choose jpeg because that’s a
flattened file format, and then I can set the quality. So that’s the compromise
between quality and file size. So dragging it a little
bit lower is going to give me a smaller file size,
a little bit less quality. When I’m ready I
can just click Run. And as the script
ran, you could see that Photoshop selected each
of these layer comps (mumbles) if it clicked on
these options here, set up the document
the way it looked, and then saved it out. And then went to the next
one and then the next one. And so now each of
these layer comps has been exported
into a jpeg file. Those three jpeg files I
could then send to my client and ask from which of those
files they wanted to use. So let’s just go to that folder. I have it open here. And you can see that we’ve got
three different layer comps. The file names are Bird
on Background, it’s 000, version one is the
name of the layer comp, here’s the description. And here’s the second one,
and here’s the third one. So it’s very easy for me
to send different looks of a single image to my client, and then they can determine
which one of these that they want to use. When they tell me which one, it’s very easy for me to
just open the Photoshop file and select the layer comp
that matches the image that they’ve chosen to use. These layer comps are
saved within the file. Of course, if I save
everything as a psd file, then all of these
layers, visible or not, are going to be
saved in the file. So you can see that layer comps can really help your workflow. You can use them when
you’re prepping documents for a client, but they’re
also hands to use yourself if you want to just compare two or three different
versions of a document. I hope that you’ve
enjoyed learning these Photoshop
workflow techniques. Let us know what you think
in the Comments below, and give us a thumbs up if
you enjoyed the tutorial. Until next time, I’m Helen
Bradley for Design Cuts.


  • Reply Design Cuts July 23, 2018 at 2:53 pm

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  • Reply indra0704 October 2, 2018 at 3:09 pm

    Very useful, thank you so much!

  • Reply Tweety Kid October 15, 2018 at 8:51 pm

    This is excellent. Thank you for including information about earlier versions. I am running CS 5.1, so it's good to know where to find export in scripts. Also this inspired me to create tutorials for myself using the PS notes and layer comps together in a file. I will start a top level folder on my external drive of "PS Tuts w/ Layer Comps". I have often created something nice, then cannot remember exactly how I did it. This is a big help.

  • Reply CINDY F. SKAIKAY November 27, 2018 at 1:53 am

    Thank you. This is exactly what I needed to do for my homework, 3 different layer comps

  • Reply Manojlo Gulic December 4, 2018 at 12:50 pm

    Thank you!

  • Reply jayc gylsen January 30, 2019 at 11:56 am

    👍 great video, was doing this yesterday at my class but couldn't understand the process of layer comps.

  • Reply Loyd Fernandes April 23, 2019 at 8:31 pm

    Thank you for explaining this. Really nice tutorial.

  • Reply Allise Dickson June 3, 2019 at 2:51 pm

    Great tutorial. Thank you.

  • Reply Tweety Kid August 25, 2019 at 5:59 pm

    Beautifully explained.

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