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This chapter is from the book

Streamlining your workflow

This page lists some of the features of Photoshop that you can incorporate into your workflow to increase flexibility and boost your productivity.

Keep your edits flexible

  • Copy imagery to duplicate or separate layers; use adjustment layers to try out tonal and color adjustments; use fill layers to apply colors; apply editable and removable layer styles; and use layer comps to show variations of a document to clients without having to open and close individual files.
  • Place Camera Raw images or vector objects from Illustrator into Photoshop as Smart Objects for easy round-trip edits and updates.
  • If you can afford the processing lag, apply filters as editable and removable Smart Filters to layers that you’ve converted to Smart Objects.
  • Use layer and vector masks to hide or show areas of a layer.

Save, reuse, recycle

  • Save your Camera Raw settings as presets for future use.
  • Create and save presets for brushes, swatches, gradients, type, patterns, shapes, contours, styles, and tools. Save your presets in libraries for safekeeping and easy access.
  • Save collections of layer effect, opacity, and blending mode settings as styles in the Styles palette for use in any Photoshop file.
  • Store selections as alpha (grayscale) channels, then load them as selections when needed.
  • Save repetitive sequences of editing or processing steps as actions.
  • Create and save theme-oriented workspaces, with optional color-coded menu labels.

Use context menus

When you right-click/Control-click in the document window, depending on where you click and which tool happens to be selected, a list of context-sensitive commands pops up onscreen. Some palette thumbnails, names, and features have related context menus, too. A–B To make life simpler, we’ve included context menu choices in many of the instructions in this book.

Keep a spare

  • Duplicate a layer (or a file, for that matter) and edit the copy.
  • Create snapshots on the History palette as you work, or save snapshots of your files as separate documents via the Create Document from Current State button on the History palette.

Keep a record

  • Get a notebook and use it to take notes. We’re not kidding! Jot down the progression of features that you use, and even specific settings, for future reference. Do quick sketches of design concepts, make a record of images that inspire you as you go about your daily life, or write down possible new scenarios for streamlining your workflow. Someone in our household (being diplomatic here) has a pet peeve against writing notes on napkins, so we keep notebooks for many aspects of our lives—not just for Photoshop.
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