Posts tagged "Layer Groups"

August 17, 2017

Shortcuts for Working with Layer Groups in Photoshop CC

Here are some tips and  shortcuts for working more effectively with Layer Groups:

  • To create an empty Layer Group, click the Create Layer Group (the folder) icon at the bottom of the Layers panel. The Group will be added above the currently targeted layer. If no layers are targeted, Photoshop will add the group to the top of the layer stack.
  • Command + G (Mac) | Control + G (Win) creates a new Layer Group while simultaneously placing selected layers into that group. The group will be added above the topmost currently targeted layer.
  • Command + Shift + G (Mac) | Control + Shift + G (Win) will ungroup layers.

Adding Layers to Layer Groups

  • When adding a layer to a Layer Group, Photoshop positions the layer at the top of the layer stack (with in the group).
  • Adding the shift key when releasing the mouse will position the layer at the bottom of the stack (within the group).

Repositing Layers

  • When changing the stacking order layers in the Layers panel, I found it difficult to predict if the layer I was dragging was going to land within a Layer Group or outside of it. In the example below, I want to drag the “paper” layer above the “walnuts” layer, but I didn’t want to include it within the “texture” Layer Group.


  • If you look carefully at the next illustration you can see that the hand icon is positioned over the bottom layer in the Layer Group. If I release the mouse at that point, the “paper” layer would be added within the “texture” Layer Group.


  • Instead, if I position the curser a bit lower (below the baseline of the Layer Group), and release the mouse (as it’s positioned in the next illustration), the layer will be repositioned above the “walnuts” layer but not within the “texture” Layer Group.

  • Note: Another way to be sure that the “paper” layer wasn’t included in the texture Layer Group would have been to close the  Layer Group before repositioning the layer.

Duplicating Layer Groups

  • Command + J (Mac) | Control + J (Win) will duplicate the selected Layer Group(s).
  • Option -drag (Mac) | Alt -drag (Win) the Layer Group (in the Layers panel) to simultaneously duplicating and repositioning a Layer Group.
  • Control -click (Mac) | right mouse -click (Win) on the Layer Group and select Duplicate Group.

Deleting Layer Groups in Photoshop

  • With the Layer Group selected, tap the Delete key or Option -click (Mac) | Alt -click (Win) the trash can icon.
  • To delete a Layer Group but keep the layers, choose Layer > Delete > Group or click the trash can icon. Either method displays a dialog with an option to delete “Group Only” (which ungroups the layers within the group and removes the Layer Group while leaving the Layers in tack).
  • Command -drag (Mac) | Control -drag (Win) a Layer Group to the trash can icon to delete a Layer Group without deleting it’s contents.

Selecting Layer Groups

  • To automatically select Layer Groups using the Move tool, enable the Auto-Select box in the Options bar and choose Group from the pull-down menu.

Nesting Layer Groups

  • You can nest layer Layer Groups up to 10 groups deep. That should help organize even the most complex documents!

Displaying the Contents of Layer Groups in Photoshop

  • Command (Mac) | Control (Win) -click the disclosure triangle next to a Layer Group to expand/collapse all Layer Groups in the document.
  • Option (Mac) | Alt (Win)  -click the disclosure triangle to expand/collapse all groups nested within the current Layer Group.
  • Option + Command (Mac) | Alt + Control (Win) -click the disclosure triangle to expand and collapse all groups (nested or not).
  • Control (Mac) | right mouse (Win) -click the Group’s disclosure triangle and choose “Close/Open this Group” or “Close/Open all Other Groups”.

And, if you’re looking for eight reasons to use Layer Groups, be sure to watch this short video that I recently posted:

5:20 AM Comments (1) Permalink
August 15, 2017

3, 2, 1, Photoshop – Eight Reasons to use Layer Groups in Photoshop

In this episode of 3, 2, 1, Photoshop, Julieanne demonstrates eight reasons to use Layer Groups in Photoshop in Photoshop CC.

The reasons are also listed below for those of you who prefer to read a list instead of watching a video!

  1. Layer Groups can help you to organize the Layers panel but putting similar layers in a group which can be collapsed/expanded as needed.
  2. Layer Groups can help when you want to effect multiple layers at once. For example, select the Layer Group and choose Free Transform to transform all of the contents of the group at once. Or, select a Layer Group and use Command + D (Mac) | Control + D (Win) to duplicate a Layer Group.
  3. Change the opacity of a Layer Group to effect the opacity of all layers within the group.
  4. Layer Effects/Layer Styles can be applied to a Layer Group. Note: when you add an Effect/Style to a group, Photoshop treats the contents of the group as if they are merged/flattened before adding the Effect/Style. As long as nothing on the layers overlaps, then the effet will be visually identicle to applying Layer Effects/Styles to individual layers (and if you only have one Layer style to update if you need to make changes). If you do have multiple layers that overlap (and don’t want the effect to appear as if the layers are merged), then you can apply the Effect/Style to one layer and copy/paste it to others.
  5. Blend modes can be applied to Layer Groups. (Similar to Layer Effects/Styles, if the contents of the layers within the Layer Group overlap, the Blend mode behaves differently than when applied to individual layers.)
  6. The effects of Blend Modes applied to individual layers within Layer Groups can be restricted to only effect those layers within the group by changing the Layer Groups Blend Mode to Normal.
  7. Layer Groups can be used as the base layer to apply Clipping Masks in order to “clip” or restrict the contents of a layer(s) to appear only where there is content within the Layer Group.
  8. Adding a layer Mask to a Layer Group enables masking of all layers within that group simultaneously.
5:09 AM Comments (2) Permalink
January 5, 2016

Adding Layers to Layer Groups in Photoshop

When dragging and dropping a layer into a Layer group, Photoshop positions the layer at the top of the Layer stack (within the group). Holding the Shift key when releasing the mouse will position the layer at the bottom of the stack (within the group).

5:16 AM Permalink
November 5, 2015

Displaying Layer Group and Artboard Contents in the Layers Panel

• Command (Mac) / Control (Win) -click the disclosure triangle next to a Layer Group/Artboard to expand/collapse all layer Groups in the document. As you expand/collapse the Layer Groups/Artboards, note that any nested Layer Groups remain in their original state.

The original state of the document, Cmd/Ctr -click once on the disclosure triangle collapses all Layer Groups, Cmd/Ctr -click again expands them (note that the nested Layer Groups remain in their original state.

These three screenshots of the Layers panel reveal: the original state of the Layers panel; Cmd/Ctr -clicking once on the disclosure triangle to collapse all Layer Groups/Artboards; and Cmd/Ctr -clicking again to expand them. (Note that the nested Layer Groups remain in their original state.

• Option (Mac) / Alt (Win) -click the disclosure triangle next to a Layer Group/Artboard to expand/collapse all Layer Groups/Artboards in the document ­- including nested Layer Groups.

click the disclosure triangle to expand collapse all groups nested within the current group

These three screenshots of the Layer panel reveal: the original state of the Layers pane; Option/Alt -clicking the disclosure triangle to expand collapse all groups nested within the current group; Option/Alt -clicking the disclosure triangle again to reveal all contents of all Layer Groups – including nested Layer groups (“Nested Group 2” is expanded using this shortcut).

• Or, Control (Mac)/ right (Win) -click the disclosure triangle next to a Layer Group/Artboard and choose “Close/Open this Group” or “Close/Open all Other Groups” from the context sensitive menus.

5:58 AM Permalink
December 5, 2014

Applying Effects and Styles to Layer Groups in Photoshop

When you want to apply the same Layer Style (or Effect), to multiple layers in a document, try putting all of the layers into a Group and then add the Layer Style to the Group (instead of adding the Layer Style to each layer). That way, if you have to make changes to the Layer Style, you only have to  make the change to the Layer Style on the Group.

I the example below, I put all of the layers that needed the same Layer Effect into the “Fish” Layer Group.

Because the Layer Style was applied to the “Fish” Layer Group, the Layer Style is automatically applied to all three layers included in the Group. Notice how the large “fish” on the left has a gradient and pattern overlay while the two other “fish” (whose layers aren’t included in the group) do not.

Any layers that I add to that Group will automatically have the Layer Effect Applied.

layer Styles are automatically applied as additional layers are added to the group.

Here, all of the layers that make up all three of the “fish” have been added to the “Fish” Group, so they all have the same gradient and pattern overlay (because Layer Styles applied to a Group are automatically applied as additional layers as they are added to the group).

One word of caution: if you have layers within the Group that overlap one another, Photoshop is going to act as if all of the layers within the Group are merged and then applies the Layer Style. In the illustration below, see how repositioning the two shapes in the Layer Group so that they overlap creates a very different result than when the Layer effects are added to each individual layer.

Even though the three Seaweed layers are within the group, each layer has it's own Layer style applied and we get the same results that we would if the layers were not with in a group

In this example,the same layer Style is applied to each plant layer.

layer style

In this example, the Layer Style is applied to the Layer Group. Notice how it appears as if the three plant layers are merged before the layer style is applied.

Note: if you do need to apply the same Layer Styles to several individual layers, there are many different ways to do this. My favorite method is to copy and paste via the context sensitive menu: Control -click (Mac) | Right -click Win to the right of the layer name on the layer with the desired style and choose “Copy Layer Style” from the context sensitive menu. Then, select the layers that need the layer style applied and Control -click (Mac) | Right -click Win in the layer (to the right of the name) and select “Paste Layer Style”.

5:12 AM Permalink
March 11, 2014

My Favorite Shortcuts for Working with Layers

Click here (2014 Favorite Layer Shortcuts) to download a compilation of some of the Layer shortcuts that I am going to share today in my compositing course at ADIM. Of course this isn’t a complete list, so feel free to search the blog for more in-depth tutorials, training, techniques and shortcuts for working with Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom.

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September 20, 2013

Repositioning Layer Stacking Order in Photoshop

Dragging in the Layers panel to reposition a layer below a Layer Group can give different results than expected. In the example below, dragging and dropping the texture layer below the Cactus Layer Group, results in the texture layer being added to the Layer Group (inside of it, instead of below it).


Dragging the texture layer below the cactus group adds the texture to the layer group.


Instead, try clicking the disclosure triangle next to the Cactus Layer Group to close it (hide the contents), then drag and drop the texture layer below it.


Or, regardless of the state of the Layer Group (opened or closed) you can simply drag the Cactus Layer Group above the texture layer!

5:01 AM Permalink
April 24, 2013

Quick Tip – Displaying a Photograph within a Shape in Photoshop

In this Quick Tip, Julieanne demonstrates three different ways to display an image within a shape in Photoshop including vector masks, clipping masks, and layer groups.

9:00 AM Permalink
February 27, 2013

Video Tutorial – 5 Reasons to Use Layer Groups in Photoshop

Layer Groups — they’re not just for organizing your layers! In this episode of The Complete Picture, Julieanne demonstrates 5 ways to use Layer Groups to create special effects in Photoshop.

5:16 AM Permalink
May 24, 2012

More Powerful Layer Groups in Photoshop CS6

In Photoshop CS6, not only can you use a Layer Group as the bottom of a Clipping Mask (so that you can clip the contents of a layer(s) to the contents of an entire group) but you can also add Layer Effects/Styles to a Layer Group to have the style applied to all of the layers in the Group (as a single unit).

5:22 AM Permalink
May 1, 2012

Updates Layer Effects/ Styles in Photoshop CS6

In case you didn’t watch the video in yesterday’s post, here are some of the changes made to the Layer Effects/Styles in Photoshop CS6:

• The menu order of the Layer Effects/Styles has changed. Although it might not be obvious at first, they are now in the order in which they are applied to the content in the layer. For example, the Drop Shadow effect is applied (or will be rendered) below all other Effects, the Bevel and Emboss will rendered on top of any other Effects. This should help when visualizing how several effects are going to be applied to the contents of a layer or group.

• Layer Effects/Styles can be applied to Groups. As you can see in the illustration below, the layers on the left have a Stroke effect applied to each layer individually. The layers on the right have the Stroke effect applied to the Group. Applying the Layer Effect/Style to the Group has a different result because the layers are all treated as one (as if they are flattened) before the Layer Effect/Style is applied to the Group.

• Option -click (Mac) | Alt (Win) -click the disclosure triangle on the Layers panel to the right of the “fx” icon to hide/reveal all Layer Effect/Styles in the document.

• Both the Gradient Overlay and Stroke Layer Effects have a “Dither” option. Note: to apply a dither on a Stroke, first change the Fill Type to Gradient.

• There is a new command (Layer > Rasterize > Layer Style) which renders the layer effect into the layer (think of it as merging or flattening the Layer Effect/Style  with the content of the layer).

• If any changes have been made in the Layer Style dialog under the Advanced Blending area, a new Blending Effects icon is displayed on the layer in the Layers panel.

5:03 AM Permalink
April 30, 2012

Video Tutorial – Julieanne’s Favorite Enhancements for Working with Layers in Photoshop CS6

In this video (Top 10 Time Saving Enhancements to the Layers Panel in Photoshop CS6), you’ll learn time-saving techniques to boost your productivity as Julieanne reveals essential enhancements that will improve the way you work with Layers, Groups, the new Properties panel, and much more!

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November 16, 2010

The Pass Through Blend Mode

Layer Groups have a unique blend mode called Pass Through which is only visible when a Layer Group is targeted in the Layers panel.   It allows any adjustment layers, blend modes, advanced blending options, opacity and fill values applied to layers within a Group, to affect layers below the Group in the layers panel.  To restrict the blending of layers to only happen within a Group, change the Layer Group’s blend mode to Normal.


In this example, I added a Black and White Adjustment Layer to make the two layers - the hat and coat and tie, in the Layer Group to display a black and white. However, because the Layer Group’s blend mode was set to it’s default “Pass Through” blend mode, the Black and White Adjustment layer passed through the bottom of the Layer Group and affected the Background layer as well. Changing the Layer Group’s blend mode to “Normal” restricted the Black and White Adjustment Layer to only affect those layers within the Layer Group - allowing the Background layer to appear in color.

5:51 AM Permalink
November 15, 2010

The Sixth Group of Blend Modes

The sixth group of Blend modes have no neutral colors. They work in a hue, saturation, luminance space that is similar to but different from both HSB and HSL. In particular, while hue is the same in all three spaces, all of the spaces define saturation and brightness/lightness/luminance somewhat differently. All of the combinations described below are subject to clipping to keep the values in the valid RGB range.

• Hue – Creates a result color with the luminance and saturation of the base color and the hue of the blend color.

• Saturation – Creates a result color with the luminance and hue of the base color and the saturation of the blend color. Painting with this mode in an area that has no (0) saturation (gray) causes no change.

• Color – Creates a result color with the luminance of the base color and the hue and saturation of the blend color. This preserves the gray levels in the image and is useful for coloring monochrome images and for tinting color images. Color yields a result with the same hue and saturation as the upper color and the luminance of the lower color.

• Luminosity – Creates a result color with the hue and saturation of the base color and the luminance of the blend color. This mode is the inverse of Color mode.

One of the common uses of the Color blend mode is for selective coloring effects using the painting tools, gradient fill layers and layer effects. For example, you can select the paint brush, set its blend mode to color and paint directly on an image (but this isn’t very flexible if you make a mistake). For more flexibility, you can choose to create a new layer and set it’s blend mode to Color and set the paint brush’s blend mode to Normal to paint any part of an image.


With the Color blend mode I find that I’m often having to guess how the color will appear (on top of the original image). Sometimes the resulting color is much lighter or darken than you may expect based on the content of the layers underneath. So, I find the following method a bit more predictable: Start by converting the image to B/W, then select the area that you want to add color to and then choose Layer > New Fill Layer > Solid Color. In the New Layer dialog box, set the Mode to Color and click OK. Then, you can interactively select the right color in the Color Picker - taking the guesswork out of the process. I also find that the Hue blend modes works better at times so be sure to give that a try.

4:46 AM Permalink
November 12, 2010

The Fifth Group of Blend Modes

Difference, Exclusion and Subtract have a neutral color of black. This means that black as a blend color will have no effect on the result color. The Divide blend mode has a Neutral color of white.

• Difference – Looks at the color information in each channel and subtracts either the blend color from the base color or the base color from the blend color, depending on which has the greater brightness value. Blending with white inverts the base color values.

• Exclusion – Creates an effect similar to but lower in contrast than the Difference mode. Blending with white inverts the base color values. Blending with black produces no change.  The effect is a bit like using one image to solarize the other.

• Divide and Subtract – Both are intended for us with calibrated imaging however interesting creative effects are also possible. For astronomy and microscopy:  you want to subtract background values (dark frames, factoring out hot pixels, etc.), and divide by a flat field image (removing vignetting and other lens defects, bringing insensitive pixels back up to normal range, etc.). You can remove lens falloff even if you have something that Lens Correction can’t handle (like mirror lenses, dust on the lens, etc.). Of course you can also use them for HDR toning tricks (or experimentation). Martin Evening has posted an excellent tutorial on these two new blend modes. Click here to read more…

The first

The first image illustrates the leaf layer with it's blend mode set to Difference. The second illustration shows the result of Exclusion, then Subtract and Divide.

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