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Duplicate Anything

Duplicate an Entire Document

qus.jpg I sometimes want to make a quick copy of a document so I can try out an idea. Is there an easier way than closing the document and duplicating it on the desktop?

tick.jpg No need to run off to the desktop; you can duplicate a document from within Photoshop. Choose Image > Duplicate, name the duplicate, select Duplicate Merged Layers Only if you want the duplicate to be a flattened version of the current document, and click OK. The duplicate document appears as a new window.

Or even faster: Add the Option/Alt key when you choose Image > Duplicate and you'll get a copy without the annoying dialog box!

A document you create with the Duplicate command doesn't exist as a file until you save it, even though you see a named title bar at the top of the duplicate document.

Duplicate documents can be useful for creating variations on a document, or for quickly experimenting with techniques on a flattened or downsampled version of a document.

Duplicate Layers

qus.jpg What's the best way to duplicate a layer? And can a layer be copied to another document?

tick.jpg There are lots of ways to duplicate a layer, depending on what you're trying to accomplish.

To duplicate the current layer using the Layer menu, choose Layer > Duplicate Layer. In the Duplicate Layer dialog box, you have the option to create the duplicate in another open document or in a new document. This is a great way to "send" a layer to another document. The Duplicate Layer command also appears on the Layers palette menu.

Another, faster way to copy a layer is to select the Move tool and Option/Alt-drag anywhere in the image. This is a good option if you don't want the duplicate to be in the exact same position as the original layer.

Or, to duplicate the current layer using the Layers palette, drag a layer to the New Layer icon.

A type object exists on its own layer, so you can use any of these methods to duplicate a type object too.

Duplicate a Path or Shape

qus.jpg How can I duplicate a path or shape without duplicating the entire layer? I just want to make a copy of the vector object on the same layer.

tick.jpg It's a simple matter of changing the tool you're using to select. To copy a path or shape without making a new layer, Option/Alt-drag the path or shape using the Path Selection tool (the black arrow tool), not the Move tool ( Figure 3.34 ).


Figure 3.34 Duplicating the original path (top) by Option/Alt-dragging the path with the Path Selection tool (bottom).

Create a Step-and-Repeat Layout

qus.jpg I don't have a layout program and I sometimes need to create step-and-repeat layouts, like a page full of business cards. It's easy enough to copy layers, but when the original needs to be updated, I have to set up the copies all over again. Is there an easier way?

tick.jpg Thanks to the new Smart Objects feature in Photoshop CS2, it's now practical to create step-and-repeat jobs right in your favorite image-editing program. You can create a single graphic, make a Smart Object out of it, and duplicate the Smart Object as needed. If you edit the contents of the Smart Object, all of the Smart Object duplicates update automatically. Here's how it works:

  1. In the Layers palette, select the layers you want to repeat, and choose Layer > Smart Objects > Group Into New Smart Object ( Figure 3.35 ).

    Figure 3.35 The layers of the design (left and center) combined into a smart object (right).

  2. Make sure the image canvas is large enough to contain all the duplicates you're going to make (see "Image Size vs. Canvas Size, earlier in this chapter). Or, probably better, just create a new document large enough, and drag your new smart object layer into it.
  3. Using the Move tool, position the Smart Object in the top left corner of the document.
  4. Using the Move tool, Option-Shift-drag/Alt-Shift-drag the Smart Object to make and position a duplicate next to the original. Repeat until you've created an entire row of duplicates ( Figure 3.36 ).

    Figure 3.36 The smart object Option/Alt-dragged across four times to create a complete row.

  5. If you didn't space the layers evenly while drawing, you can do it now. Select all of the layers making up the row and choose Layer > Distribute > Horizontal Centers.
  6. In the Layers palette, select the layers you created. Choose Layer > Group Layers The layers are now grouped in a folder in the Layers palette.
  7. You can now Option-Shift-drag/Alt-Shift-drag a copy of the group downward from the original, repeating until you have the number of rows you want.
  8. To update all of the smart objects at once, double-click any of them in the Layers palette, or choose Layer > Smart Objects > Edit Contents ( Figure 3.37 ).

    Figure 3.37 The Edit Contents command on the Layers palette menu (left) opens a smart object for editing. Here, the background image in the smart object was flipped (above). Saving this smart object updates all instances of that smart object in the document.

  9. The contents of the smart object open in a temporary window. Edit it as needed then save it and close the window.

When you close that editing window, Photoshop updates all of the smart object copies in the document!

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