Video tutorial: Improved layer comps

Video tutorial: Improved layer comps
Infinite Skills

Designers often create multiple compositions (or comps) of a page layout to show clients. Using layer comps, you can create, manage, and view multiple versions of a layout in a single Photoshop file.

A layer comp is a snapshot of a state of the Layers panel. Layer comps record three types of layer options:

  • Layer visibility—whether a layer is showing or hidden.

  • Layer position in the document.

  • Layer appearance—whether a layer style is applied to the layer and the layer’s blending mode.

Note:

Unlike layer effects, Smart Filter settings cannot be changed across layer comps. Once a Smart Filter is applied to a layer, it appears in all layer comps for the image.

Photoshop Layer Comps panel
Layer Comps panel

A. Apply Layer Comp icon B. Last Document State C. Selected comps 

Create a layer comp

  1. Choose Window > Layer Comps to display the Layer Comps panel.
  2. Click the Create New Layer Comp button at the bottom of the Layer Comps panel. The new comp reflects the current state of layers in the Layers panel.
  3. In the New Layer Comp dialog box, name the comp, add descriptive comments, and choose options to apply to layers: Visibility, Position, and Appearance.
  4. Click OK. The options you chose are stored as defaults for your next comp.

    Note:

    To duplicate a comp, select a comp in the Layer Comps panel and drag the comp to the New Comps button.

Apply and view layer comps

  • In the Layer Comp panel, do any of the following:

    • To view a layer comp, you first need to apply it. Click the Apply Layer Comp icon  next to a selected comp.

    • To cycle through a view of all layer comps, use the Previous  and Next  buttons at the bottom of the panel. (To cycle through specific comps, first select them.)

    • To restore the document to its state before you chose a layer comp, click the Apply Layer Comp icon  next to Last Document State at the top of the panel.

Change and update a layer comp

If you change the configuration of a layer comp, you need to update it.

  1. Select the layer comp in the Layer Comps panel.

  2. Make changes to the layer’s visibility, position, or style. You may need to change the layer comp’s options to record these changes.

  3. To change your comp options, select Layer Comp Options from the panel menu and select additional options to record layer position and style.

  4. Click the Update Layer Comp button  at the bottom of the panel.

Layer comps in Smart Objects

Consider a document with layer comps placed as a Smart Object within another document. When you select the Smart Object in the containing document, the Properties panel gives you access to the layer comps that were defined in the source file.

This feature lets you change the state of the Smart Object at a layer level without editing the Smart Object. 

Photoshop Layer comps in a Smart Object
Layer comps in a Smart Object

Clear layer comp warnings

Certain actions create a state where the layer comp can no longer be fully restored. This happens when you delete a layer, merge a layer, or convert a layer to a background. In such instances, a caution icon  appears next to the layer comp name.

  • Do one of the following:
    • Ignore the warning, which may result in the loss of one or more layers. Other saved parameters may be preserved.

    • Update the comp, which results in the loss of the previously captured parameters, but brings the comp up to date.

    • Click the caution icon to see the message explaining that the layer comp can’t be restored properly. Choose Clear to remove the alert icon and leave the remaining layers unchanged.

    • 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.

Delete a layer comp

  • Do one of the following:
    • Select the layer comp in the Layer Comps panel and click the Delete icon  in the panel, or choose Delete Layer Comp from the panel menu.

    • Drag it to the Delete icon in the panel.

Export layer comps

You can export layer comps to individual files.

  • Choose File > Scripts > Layer Comps To Files and then choose the file type and set the destination.

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