Photoshop Q&A

by | 1 year ago

Q: How do you paste a texture onto a layer mask? 

A: In order to paste onto a layer mask, you have to be able to view the mask; and simply clicking on it in the Layers panel won’t do the trick. To view the contents of the mask, hold down Option (PC: Alt) and click on the mask thumbnail. Now you’ll be able to copy from a texture photo and paste into the mask. (Hold down Option [PC: Alt] and click again on the mask thumbnail to see the effects of the mask.) 

Q: Apparently you can use layer comps to create several versions of a document, but I don’t understand how that works. Can you explain? 

A: The Layer Comps panel lets you “record” different versions of a multi-layered document, based on the position, visibility, and appearance (layer styles) of each layer. Then you can choose which layer comp you want to view. The key thing to remember is that while you can change the visibility and position of your layers, you can’t change things such as scale, or the fonts used in a type layer. For example, if you wanted to have two different sizes of the same logo within different layer comps, you’d have to create two copies of the logo layer, scale one of them, and then hide the layers one at a time as you create layer comps. 

It usually works best if you add any necessary layers and effects (including adjustment layers and layer styles) before you start creating the layer comps. The actual process of creating layer comps goes like this: Show the layers you want to include in your first comp, and in the Layer Comps panel (Window>Layer Comps) click the Create New Layer Comp icon. In the resulting dialog, name the comp (use a descriptive name) and check the boxes for visibility, position, and appearance. (You only have to do this for the first comp). Click OK. 

Next, change the visibility of the layers (or move a layer, change the Opacity, turn off a mask, etc.), and create the next layer comp. 

In this example, I wanted to end up with several logo choices, so I added adjustment layers that would allow me to change the look of individual layers. Then I went through and created the comps, each time turning on and off the visibility of the appropriate layers. 

Once finished creating comps, you can view them either by clicking to the left of the name of the comp you want to view in the Layer Comps panel, or by clicking on the first button at the bottom of the panel to “scroll through” all the comps. 

Finally, save the document as a PSD file and the layer comps will always be available. 

Q: Follow up layer comps question: I understand that you’re supposed to be able to access the layer comps from inside another document. How do I do that? 

A: If you import the PSD that contains the layer comps into your main document, you can access, and choose from, the layer comps. Use File>Place Linked to import the PSD file into your photo. (Yes, it seems odd to place a Photoshop file into a Photoshop file, but for this process it’s a necessary step.) 

Placing the file creates a smart object, but rather than double-clicking on the smart object thumbnail to edit it, there’s an easier way. With the smart object layer active go to the Properties panel (Window>Properties); it should say Linked Smart Object at the top. You’ll see a menu that currently says “Don’t Apply Layer Comp.” Use this menu to choose which layer comp you want to display. (This is why it was suggested in the previous answer that you choose a name for each layer comp that’s more descriptive than “Layer Comp 1.”) At any time in the process, you can switch to a different layer comp by using this menu in the Properties panel. [Click here to check out a tutorial that shows using layer comps in a design project in the October 2020 issue of Photoshop User. –Ed.] 

Q: I created a pattern using the Create from Image option in the Libraries panel (Window>Libraries). Now the pattern is in a Library, but I’d like to put it into the Patterns panel. Is that possible? 

A: Yes it is, and it’s as easy as this: Right-click on the pattern in the Library and, from the pop-up menu, choose Create Pattern Preset. The pattern will appear at the bottom of the Patterns panel (Window>Patterns), then you can click-and-drag it to change its location in the panel or drop it into a group (folder). [Click here to check out an article on using the Create from Image option in the March 2020 issue of Photoshop User. —Ed.

Q: I recently saw someone working in Photoshop and some of their menus were color coded. How did they do that? 

A: That’s an option found in the Keyboard Shortcuts and Menus dialog. Go to Edit>Menus and find the menu item that you want to color code. Then simply choose the color from the menu beside that item, click OK, and you’re good to go. 

If you ever want to change or remove the color coding, return to Edit>Menus. To edit the individual menu items, you’ll have to go and find them as there’s no automatic way to show only the menu items that are currently color coded. Once you’ve found them, use the Color menu to change the color, or put it back to “None.” 

Should you want to remove all color coding at once, at the top of the dialog, change the Set drop-down menu to Photoshop Defaults. (Note: Changing the Set to Photoshop Defaults will also affect the visibility of menu items, so if you’ve previously hidden any menu items, they’ll all be made visible if you use this method.)