No matter what type of work you do in Photoshop, keeping organized PSD files is an extremely important task. This is especially important if you work with a team of designers, developers, or artists that need to use your Photoshop files later down the line. In this tutorial, I will share 10 useful tips and techniques that you can use to help create professional and organized PSD files. Let's get started!
The following PSD file from Graphic River was used during the production of this tutorial, but you can follow along with any PSD file that contains lots of layers.
1. Use Guides and Grids
There are lots of options in Photoshop that can help you to align objects with one another. Guides and Grids are useful tools to help you position and transform objects on your pixel grid.
2. Use Smart Objects for Repeated Elements
Use Smart Objects whenever want to use multiple instances of the same layer or group of layers. This will enable you to update all those instances at the same time, just by editing the source.
3. Work With Layer Groups and Shared Masks
Layer Groups are an important tool to help you structure and organize your PSD files. Place related objects into a group to make it easy for you and anyone else working on the file to know where all your elements are placed. In addition, you can apply a mask to a layer group, allowing you to quickly mask several items at a time.
4. Naming and Coloring Your Layers
Naming each, and every, layer, one-by-one might sound time-consuming, but it is actually one of the best ways to improve the efficiency of your Photoshop workflow. With the new update to Photoshop CC (14.2), you can use 255 characters for naming your layers, which allows a lot of space for information about each layer. Don't forget that you can also use color labels on the layers to make it easy to find the relevant layers more quickly. You can always use Layer Filtering from the top of the Layers Panel to search for layers by their name or their color labels.
5. Keeping Your Text Neat
Whenever you work with Text Layers in Photoshop, you should make sure that you don't distort their appearance using the Free Transform Tool. Instead of scaling text, change its point size and try to use whole numbers. In addition, you should also make sure to keep your text editable, so don't flatten it. If you use the same styling on several text layers, you should define Character and Paragraph Styles to save time and to be more organized.
6. Using Layer Comps Instead of Several PSD Files
If you need to use several versions of a layout in Photoshop, you should use Layer Comps instead of saving separate PSD files for each version. The advantage of having only one PSD using Layer Comps is that you can still make edits to your layers and see those changes updated on your saved Layer Comps. This can be a big time-saver, and using them can also save considerable amount of storage space.
7. Using Adjustment Layers
Adjustment Layers are an excellent tool to help you apply non-destructive edits to your images in Photoshop. In addition, anyone else using your PSD files will be able to quickly see what settings you used on a particular element.
8. Use Vector Shapes Whenever Possible
Vector Masks, Shapes and Paths provide much more flexibility than pixel layers, and they can be easily adjusted using the Direct Selection Tool and the Pen Tool. The main advantage of working with vectors is that they are resolution-independent, which means they can be resized without losing quality on the way.
9. Use Swatches for Consistent Colors
If you select your color scheme early in the design process, make sure to create swatches for your colors. Saving a color to your Swatches Panel will give you quick and easy access to your colors schemes at a later date.
10. Deleting Unnecessary Layers
Unnecessary layers will clutter your PSD and increase its file size. To reduce the clutter, delete unnecessary layers or merge them down, when you can. Vector shape layers, for instance, can be merged together without having to rasterize them. To delete empty layers in Photoshop, select the Delete All Empty Layers option from the Edit > Scripts menu, or use the Filtering options in the Layer Panel.