Publishers of technology books, eBooks, and videos for creative people

Home > Articles > Design > Adobe Photoshop

Photoshop CS4 Workflow Tips

Since compositing is, by definition, the blending of multiple images into one, it makes sense to discuss some new ways to work with multiple images onscreen. Photoshop introduces some great workflow enhancements that make this task quite a bit easier and more flexible.
Like this article? We recommend

Photoshop Workflow Tips

Since compositing is, by definition, the blending of multiple images into one, it makes sense to discuss some new ways to work with multiple images onscreen. Photoshop introduces some great workflow enhancements that make this task quite a bit easier and more flexible.

Managing Your Workspace

Photoshop provides some important new ways to arrange your workspace when you have multiple images open. The first time you launch Photoshop, you will find a new set of tools called the Application bar (or App bar) just below the standard menu bar at the top of the screen. Adobe has designed the App bar to help you manage all your documents and key viewing options. Although this can take up some valuable screen space for laptop users, any Photoshop user working on composite imagery with a large LCD screen should benefit greatly from the new App Bar and its viewing options.

The bar is now open. You can show or hide the App bar (Figure 6.11) by selecting or deselecting the Application Bar option at the bottom of the Window menu. Key to the App bar is the new Arrange Documents menu, which provides options for arranging all of your open documents into specific window layouts, as well as options for managing how each window is viewed.


Figure 6.11 The Application bar in Photoshop offers many options for simultaneously viewing multiple images.

Put it on my tab. The Consolidate All feature utilizes a new technology called tabbed documents that allows you to place all your images—still maximized—into a single window but be a click away from any one of them. This is a great way to access several images at once but still focus on one at a time. You can tear off an image “tab” from its window by grabbing the tab and dragging it outside the bounds of the document. Then you can re-dock the image by dragging the title bar of the image back into the window where it was “torn” from and releasing the mouse button when you see a blue highlight.

Your number is up. Other options in the Arrange Documents menu include the familiar tiling options that let you choose from grid, vertical, and horizontal layouts. Below those choices, however, are the new N-up view options, which provide staggered layouts for specific numbers of images. With N-up viewing, you can rearrange your layouts by dragging images just as you would with the tabbed layout (as you drag an image over other image borders, the blue highlight will indicate where your image can be dropped, as shown in Figure 6.12).


Figure 6.12 The tabbed documents and N-up viewing options in Photoshop allow you to modify window arrangements by dragging an image to the border areas between images or between images and the traditional Photoshop UI elements.

Having the ability to view so many images at the same time might cause you to wonder just how useful the N-up feature is—but it’s extremely useful. For example, you can still use the traditional Match Zoom and Location command (also in the Arrange Documents menu), but you can now apply it across a larger number of arranged documents. You can also match the rotation settings for all images. This is a great tool for comparing image content or quality and for precision retouching when preparing your images for compositing (Figure 6.13).


Figure 6.13 N-up views let you work on more documents side by side, without the screen clutter that would have been inevitable with prior versions.

To summarize, N-up views, combined with traditional Photoshop viewing and matching options, allow you to edit one image while comparing it with another. And you can drag layers from one image to another in N-up view just as you normally would—simply select the layer from the image canvas, drag it over the target document’s tab, and release the mouse button. Holding down Shift while you do this centers the layer in the target document.

Using Layers and Layer Groups

Not much has changed in Photoshop with respect to handling layers and grouping those layers, but it’s important for you to utilize these features often when working on composite images. Grouping layers is a fantastic way to keep your individual image components organized. Adjustment layers, smart objects, and image content can all be grouped in whatever fashion makes sense for your project.

For example, you may have applied several adjustment layers to a single pixel-based layer; by grouping those adjustments in a folder, with one click you can preview their cumulative effect on your target layer. You may also have small bits of cutout imagery that should be edited and viewed as a unit rather than as separate layers. Sometimes grouping these “bits” into folders helps keep them from falling through the proverbial cracks in your workflow.

To group a collection of layers, select them as you normally would, and drag them to the Folder icon at the bottom of the Layers panel (Figure 6.14). You can also drag and drop layers to change their order in the Layers panel hierarchy or to group them in another folder.


Figure 6.14 Grouping layers keeps things organized, which is vital when coordinating several elements. Anything that can be on a layer by itself can go into a group, including adjustment layers and smart objects.

Peachpit Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from Peachpit and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about Peachpit products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information

To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.


Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites; develop new products and services; conduct educational research; and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.


If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information

Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at and we will process the deletion of a user's account.


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by Adobe Press. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive:

Sale of Personal Information

Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents

California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure

Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact

Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice

We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020