How To Link Layers In Photoshop | The Amazing Power Of Linked Layers In Photoshop

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The Amazing Power Of Linked Layers In Photoshop


Today we’re going to learn about link layers in Photoshop. My name is Max Bridge on a still-life photographer based in London. You can find me on my website. Square Mountains or credit UK and on Instagram at square underscore Mountain. So what are link layers? Well imagine you have a mastered. Photoshop document within that document, you have a number of linked layers, these layers reference external Photoshop documents with their own layers photos adjustments. Everything when you update those external documents. Those updates are then populated into the master document. So why would you want to do this well? Complicated composites can be pretty strenuous on your computing power by splitting the document up into multiple documents. You save on that power and it allows you to make far more complicated –it on top of that. You’ve got organization now personally. I’m massive on organization when I’m making complicated composites because it can get quite confusing, having loads and loads and loads of layers. Within the same document, link layers allow you to split that up into multiple documents, so it’s much much easier and finally, my favorite part of this is that rather than having to merge layers when you want to do things like liquify a whole bunch of things, you don’t have to do that. You can click on the link layer and you can go back to all of your edits, but in your master file, you can liquefy that link layer and still go back and edit those adjustments later on now. Honestly, link layers are the best. Photoshop technique I have learned in recent years and that’s no exaggeration. Now that’s going to Photoshop, and I’ll show you exactly what I’m talking about. Now we’re inside Photoshop. Let me just take you through linked layers really quickly, so I’ll just start by doing a really simple example using some shapes, so we’ll create a shape a square with a red fill. There we go and then. I’ll create a new document by hitting CTRL or command N Create the new document window. And then we hit you for the shape tool again. Shift you to cycle through them. I’ll create a circle with a probably Canna color. There we go and again, another new document control command N and then shift you to create another one and this one will Korean, and this sort of thing really doesn’t matter. All right there we go so now we have to say vitamins first. This is our master document, and these are our elements going into it, So I’ll just hit ctrl or command s to save you, see? I’ve already got a little folder. Here, that’s our master One. It doesn’t matter what the name is for now, so I’ll just hit save, and then we just go to the next clock home by hitting CTRL or Command Tab Ctrl s. And that brings up the next one. Save this one now as you can probably tell. I use quite a lot of shortcuts. If I forget to say, then I use a PC and ctrl on. A Mac would be command Alt on a Mac would be option. I’ll do my best to try and remember them. Okay, so these are now saved, and we want to reference them. In our master document, we go file base linked right here, and we click on our first one. Take that in and then click on our second one. Do the same file place link and place it in. Now you’ll notice you have this bounding box. I wouldn’t recommend increasing the size of that because just like any other image. If you increase the size of it, you’re actually lowering the quality. The pixels aren’t there, so you to increase the size, just like if you took a photo and you decided to increase the size of it. You’re you actually lowering the quality, So I just suggested to leave it. The side it is, you can make it smaller, but I wouldn’t recommend making any bigger. Okay, so there we go, We have our link. Led in our master document, you see this little symbol down here on the layer that tells us it is a linked layer. So if I click on this, it will take us to that document If I go back and I click on this one. It takes us to that document. So now if I make any changes to this if I add, say, a curve’s layer and just darken this down, so you can see, I save that We see it saving up here. It then updates into here, and you see, it is now darker in this document, as well. You see in the history panel here we can see it updated, and it is an important point to make as well. You see this little icon. There is a kid over here and appeared here on the layer. If you have made a change within your document, and you’ve saved it. But it’s not appearing in the master. It has a little icon that says hey. I don’t know what’s going on. That’s going to change me, but I can’t see it. All you have to do is go back into that original document. Save it and then it will work here now. I can just go down the history because that was the only reason it was doing that. But if you have that problem, just make sure you go back to the external document. Save that one and it should be fine. It’s just cuz It’s confused that there’s been changes made additional referencing it now. Other point to make here is when you use link layer, it references the entire document. It’s not just a layer on. It’s the entire document, so as you can see here because we have a background, It’s also taken their background here, whereas the layer the shape layer on our master document, you see here? It has a transparent background. I can move it around. But these ones actually end up, hiding it because they have their own backgrounds. So when you’re making linked layers when you’re using them, remove the backgrounds just have them as the actual elements themselves. Go delete those. I saved them both ctrl or command F. I’m using Ctrl or command tab just to go between the windows, much much quicker than going up and selecting these little things here, so as you can see, they updated, they went from having backgrounds to not having backgrounds and now we can move them around and do everyone with them just like as though they were a normal layer and now let’s go back into this little circular shape and I’ll make another change, so let’s say I want to add. It doesn’t really matter a color balance layer. I’m just going to sit around with these parameters, which are doing absolutely nothing at something else. Three doesn’t matter what we add. Let’s go for levels and darken it again. We eerie doesn’t matter. I’ll add a new blank layer and I’ll get this clone stamp house clone a little bit of this edge. It doesn’t matter at all what I’m doing here. This is just for demonstration purposes, and then I’ll copy that over to the other side and give our circle some strange hat. Anyway, there we go. Kruger glare. So the point here is just that we can make all of these changes hit save and they update into a master document now. The really interesting thing is when we want to liquify it or make further changes now rather than doing this in this way, which is quite boring. I’m going to show you on a composite. I actually did a little while ago. So let’s close these down and I will just open up those files. Now it’ll take a moment to open. I have actually just recently changed them to 8-bi’t just for this video. Just sort of open a little bit quicker, usually. I work in 16-bit and Prophoto RGB, and so this stuff tends to take a little bit longer to open, but it’s a good moment just to point out that if you’re doing linked layers, I recommend working in PS DS, Not Tiffs. Now you can see here. I have been working in Tiffs on this particular file, but I have been doing this technique for a little while and since doing this composite. I’ve found that if you work in Tiffs. Sometimes it can cause a bit of a penalty in terms of speed. PS DS tend to work a little bit better. I’m not exactly sure why they just do. OK, so let me just take you through this and then. I can really demonstrate. How amazing link layers are so this composite is made up of three elements. We have the bubbles in the background, which you can see here with that link layer. We have the clouds, all of these nice little crowd bits, which are in this link layer down here, and then we have a bottle itself, which is in this link layer here, and now all of these are edited their individual elements edited in the individual files. So we have the bottle. PSD we have the bubble PSD, which, as you’ll see has no background. But I’ll just add one so you can see it, so you see, we have the bubble PSD. And then we have the cloud PSD, which also has my background. I’ll just add that now. If you’re wondering how I just did that all shift N or command option shift and create a new layer. If you hit ctrl and then the I don’t even know the name of them are on my keyboard next to enter. It’s the symbols that are kind of like, like bookends almost. I guess I’ll add some kind of image, so you can see what I’m talking about but control and then using those, you can move a layer around, you see, anyway, so I’ve added tap background and there we have the clouds layer here. We have the bubbles and we have the bottle now. Look at the number of layers contained within just this clouds document. There are loads of them. You have the clouds, clouds themselves, and then all the adjustments. I made to them. The bubbles doesn’t really have very many layers, but when I’m doing composites, I like to split everything up because it just seems to make logical sense, having everything in linked layers. Just make sense to me. It makes everything so much easier when I’m going around and trying to find layers and trying to find adjustments that relate to something it’s all contained in its own little area is I’m PSD! Then we have the bottle comp now. This bottle was made up of nine different images just to get the composite of the bottle done. So let me show you. Though we started with four hide, everything started with that. And then we had loads of different images so that the main part of the compare loads of different images for the label. So I’ll just talk them on and off quickly. Just so you can see. I mean, this isn’t a tutorial on this image. I just want to give you an idea of the complexity of the composites that I’m doing and then how link layers help. So each one of these layers refers to a different part on this bottle, and then when they’re all added together, we get the final bottle. Look, which is that, okay, and then we have all of the other layers for cleaning contrast color. Corrections, all these things there are tons of layers. Now imagine all of those layers from that document that document that document and then on top of that all the layers in here, which unify all of that the unifying layers which make the composite look real. So you’ve got the shadows. The bottles make the clouds to light there and golfing. It you have the clouds over the top of the bottle to make it because they’re coming around the top of it, and then we have a color bounce really important in composites. Actually, it is color, and so if these clouds are actually coming over this bottle and then this blue highlight wouldn’t really be blue, they’d be getting some color from the clouds that brown. So you see when I toggle this on and off these getting a bit of brown on the edge of the bottle. They’re really important. Little tips are composites, but anyway, so we have shed loads of layers layers in the master document to blending everything to get together and all the layers in all these different. Photoshop documents. Can you imagine the powerful computer? You would need to do all of that and then still be able to zoom in like I am now and move around without it mucking up. Now, if any of you are new to composites, then you’ll probably know. Why don’t you get past 66.7% on the zoom down here! I don’t know why, but it will bill lag. It’ll kind of Duke stop and then go forward, and then you’ll be trying to move around a bit. That’s because your computer is not powerful enough. It’s it’s, you know, not got good enough graphics card. Whatever it is, not enough. Ram processing power. I don’t know, I’m not a computer person so anyway, by doing link layers, it spits everything up, and it just makes it a lot more a lot easier on your computer. So if you have a less powerful computer, you’re still able to do complex composites without worrying about the computing power, then we have the organization standpoint, and finally, my favorite favorite part of this is the ability to liquefy and make adjustments to groups of layers without having to merge. So let’s say we were doing this all this whole edit on the one document, and we start with our bottle. We edited our bottle and then we had to. We wanted to liquefy it because you know, usually when you get a product there. You see when you get a product? It is rarely perfect. You make all your cleaning adjustments and everything else with your contrast adjustments and then you start to do. I do anyway. I start to liquefy edges to make it perfect. So as you see here. I’ve got loads of guides up. And if I move these around, you will see that every area of this bottle is perfect. The label is perfect. They’re lines up on either side lines off on either side. They’re that straight. The top of the bottle is straight. These areas are perfect in terms of where the neck is line up the edges here, a perfect every single element on this has been made perfect and that was no accident. That did not happen on its own. The bottle definitely didn’t. Come like that it wasn’t far off to be fair, but it did not come like that. I had to do that, and the usual process would be. You make all of your adjustments. You do your comp? You do everything else. And then you’d hit ctrl alt shift N to create a new layer or control option shift. N and then again, ctrl alt shift. E or CTRL Optional’s control option shift E to create a stamp, visible layer. Okay, so that is now there, and that contains all the information from everything within here, and then you’d make your adjustments. You do liquify or whatever you’re going to do to that whole layer because you couldn’t without doing that. You could not liquify all of this, but you can with linked layers, So let’s go back to our master document. I go to our bottle here and I hit ctrl shift X or command shift X to get it to liquify. And now I’m just going to make this bottle into a little weird shape. Bailey’s new shape for Christmas Not don’t know, don’t quote me on that. And there we go make the bottle bigger because everybody wants more. Bailey’s, there we are, so I’ve ruined. The shape of the baby bottle changed it. Now you can see, it’s not quite working here now. Because some of these clouds over the top aren’t really sitting, right, but that’s not about that. This is about the Edit in a linked layer, So I’ve done the liquify, and you see it’s liquefied here. If I go back to the bottle comp. It has not affected that that is still exactly how it was. What happens is it references all of that in this document, and then you can make changes to this layer things like liquify or any other filter. You want to apply and it doesn’t affect everything here, so I can go back if I want to, and I can change. Any adjustment dive made before and then save it and it goes back over here, OK? I mean, to me, that was such a revelation, and I learned it, but let me just show you something else. So let me just show you it in action, let’s say. I wanted to add a highlight to this bottle, so I make a new layer. I hit ctrl and click on that layer now. Because I’ve already cut this bottle out. Oh, do you have a mask if you hit ctrl or command and click on any mask. It selects that mask. So I’m just doing that because I’ve already got this. You may not, but I do, so I’m gonna cheat gradient, Okay, we go select that layer, create a gradient there. We are control, come on D to deselect that control. Oh, come on t to transform it. I’m just going to nudge it in a bit and then we’re going to blur it. Filter blur Gaussian blur now. I have a shortcut created for that. If you want to do that, go edit. Mm, keyboard shortcuts. Find it in here and then create your own. It’s a lot lot quicker. I use go to number all the time, so I created that shortcut there. We go blur it by about 20 and then I’m going to lower the opacity to 50 and I’m going to add a mask to it. It G for gradient tool again X to switch around these. I’m thinking oh, no, sorry. X painting with white on it. Invert my mask First. So ctrl or command. I to hide the mask. You see, it’s right there. Now it’s black, so I’ve invert the mask, and now I’m going to paint back on just to make that really, really soft and maybe raise your pasty to like, 60 or something, yeah? I wonder if a blend mode would be nice. Something lighter, lighten. Hmm, that’s not really making a difference. Okay, so we do that and then. I’m going to duplicate It. Control will come on J controller. Come on, te to transform it, right, Click, and then go flip horizontal. I’m going to add that on to the other side of this bottle. So there we go. We have these two little highlights or just. Scruton, together by hitting CTRL or command G. Now that we have these highlights. I’ve made an adjustment to our bottle. Now if I save this, you’ll see it saved here, and then when I get toward the end, you’ll see it another bar. I tend to be staring at bars all day, watching them move along there. We go so then it’s updating this smart object over in here. There we go, so you see you see, those highlights appeared and you see in our history. It updated the smart object. It updated the link layer, alright? I hope you found that tutorial link layers really useful. If you did make sure you hit the subscribe button below. I’m going to be making loads More videos on still, life, photography and Photoshop in general. So hit that subscribe button. And then you won’t miss any of it. Now if you’ve got any questions, Chuck them in the comments below, and I’ll answer them as quick as I can otherwise Ill. See you in the next video.