How to End a Layers Session

Q: What is the best way to end a session in which I've been using a layer (or layers)?

Do I just click "flatten layers" and then save?
Thanks!
Dave


A: I would say that it depends on what you did to your photo during the session.

If you do a special effect like in the Burnt Edge Tutorial you probably don't want that effect to permanently be on your original photo.

But if you make an improvement to the quality of the photo like Whiten Teeth or Remove Glare from Glasses you probably wouldn't mind replacing the old version of the photo with the new and improved version.

Let's take a closer look at those two scenarios.

Scenario 1 - Applied a Special Effect

You created Layers in your photo during the process of applying an effect to the picture. You might want to have 3 versions of the photo:

  1. Your original photo. This is left unchanged because after you apply the effects to it you do a Save As which actually creates a new Photoshop Elements document.
  2. The new LAYERED special effect version. (This version is optional). The Layers are left intact so you can go back in and adjust the effect. With this version after you have finished you do not flatten the Layers.

    Go up to the File menu and choose Save As…

    When the dialog window opens give your file a new name that makes sense to you (maybe Dave burntedge_layered) and choose a location to save it to. Then in the Format drop-down menu choose Photoshop and click Save.

    The Photoshop format unlike most other file formats, allows you to save your image with Layers. Your original file will be exactly the same as it was and now you'll also have a new Layered file that you can go in and adjust.

  3. The new FLATTENED special effect version. After you have saved your Layered version, (or if you aren't saving a Layered version, then after you have finished creating your effect) immediately go to the Layers Palette and click and hold on the arrow at the very top-right of the palette. This will reveal the drop-down menu. Move your mouse down towards the bottom of the menu until you're over Flatten Image and release the mouse.

    That will merge all your Layers into one Layer called Background in the Layers palette. Now go up to the top of your screen to the File menu and choose Save As…

    When the dialog window opens give your file a new name that makes sense to you (maybe Dave burntedge_flattened) and choose a location to save it to. Then in the Format drop-down menu choose JPEG and click Save.

    The advantage of Flattening the Layers is that it makes your file size much smaller so it conserves on computer space. The disadvantage is that you can no longer go in and adjust those Layers because they are gone.

Scenario 2 - Improved the Quality of your Photo

This would be a situation where you used Layers to make a change to your photo quality that you are happy with and are sure you're never going to want to go back to the way it was originally.

This is pretty easy. You just go to the Layers Palette and click and hold on the arrow at the very top-right of the palette. This will reveal the drop-down menu. Move your mouse down towards the bottom of the menu until you're over Flatten Image and release the mouse.

That will merge all your Layers into one Layer called Background in the Layers palette. Now go up to the top of your screen to the File menu and choose Save.

Your photo will now be the new and improved version.

I hope that answers your question for you Dave. If you need more clarification use the "Add Your Comment" link below. That goes for any other visitors also. Let me know what you think.

Until next time,
Rick

Comments for How to End a Layers Session

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Thank you!
by: Dave

Rick,
Thanks very much! The information is exactly what I needed.
Interesting that of all the many tutorials I've seen, none have addressed how to end a layers session!
You've got a new fan...please keep up the great work!!
Thanks again,
Dave

How to End a Layers Session
by: Rick

Hey Dave,

Thanks for your kind words. It's always great to hear I was able to help someone.

Take care,
Rick

file saved Huge!!
by: Jackie

I had the same problem, but figured out the part about saving it without replacing it...my problem now is after I saved it, the file was 91.5MB (I can't print it or open it up in my windows photo viewer). Basically what I did was use a Photobacks collage template in my Photoshop Elements 9...got it just how I wanted it, went to file...save as...and saved it as a .jpg so I could order prints online. Went to the website to order prints and it wont allow me to upload the photo because it's too large. The people at Photobacks told me when I go to file...save as... there should be an option for level of quality between 1-12 and that I should set that to 10 or 11 to make the file size smaller but I don't see an option for that, all I see is where to change the file name and the format. :/ I tried to go to image...resize...image size, but even there I dont see anywhere to change the level of quality, only the size ie. from 8x10 to 5x6.25. I'm at a loss and haved saved it so many different ways and it's still so large I cant do anything with it. Any help would be greatly appreciated!!
Thanks,
Jackie


REPLY FROM RICK:
Sorry to hear your having so much frustration Jackie. I think we've all been there at one time or another with Photoshop.
Try following these steps and see if it doesn't solve your problem.

Step 1. ... Go to Image Menu>Resize>Image Size... as you did before. Look at the Resolution field. If the Resolution is larger than 300 pixels/inch you should change it to 300. Just make sure that the Resample Image box is checked first.

Step 2. ... If you have more than 1 Layer in the Layers Panel... Go up to the Layer Menu and choose Flatten Image from the very bottom.

Step 3. ... Go to the File Menu and choose Save As.... A Dialog Box will open. Look for a Field called Format. That is a drop-down menu. Click once on it and you will see all the different File Formats to choose from. Select JPEG and click Save.
This is where you should get the Dialog Box that allows you to set the Quality of the photo. Make sure you have the Preview Box checked. Right under the Preview Box it shows the size of your file. You will see that change as you lower the Quality setting.
You want to keep the Quality Setting as high as you can. So it's kind of a balancing act between Quality and File Size. Click OK and it should be good to go.
If you follow these steps and still can't get it to work or if you just want further clarification, don't hesitate to comment back here.

Good Luck Jackie! - Rick

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