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Quick Tip: Speed Up Your Photoshop Workflow (Part 2)

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In Part 2 of how to speed up your workflow in Photoshop, we are covering how to automatically load files into layers, hardware, grouping, and lots more! If you'd like to take a look at Part 1 before continuing on, you'll find it here!


Automatically Load Files Into Layers

Often, you might find the need to open a collection of photos inside of Photoshop. Currently you might open up all the separate images and then paste them into one document, this can be a painfully slow process if you happen to need lots of images.

Why not use a pre-coded script? Simply go File > Scripts > Load files into a stack. Select the layers involved and then let Photoshop do its magic. Each image will load up separately before then merging all into one document, and the layers will then take the filenames of the documents opened.


Hardware

By upgrading your computer you are making it possible to process information quicker and therefore you will spend less time editing.

First of all, check your hard drive for space. Adobe Photoshop needs plenty of space for the scratch disk, and it's worth making sure you have at least 10 gigabytes of space free at any time. Hard drives are cheaper than ever before, and you can purchase 1TB drives for less than $80.

Second, upgrade your RAM. I myself am planning to upgrade soon to 12GB of DDR3 because running multiple programs is slowing my computer down to a halt. You can monitor Photoshop's RAM usage quite simply by using a handy feature at the bottom of Photoshop.

At the bottom there should be a small panel with an arrow. Click on the arrow and select "Scratch disks". The figure on the right shows you the available RAM, whereas the figure on the left shows you the amount current used by Photoshop.


Grouping and Naming Layers

Organization is very important when it comes down to larger, complex editing. By spending time naming your layers and placing them into groups, you will save yourself time looking for those layers later on. One piece I created contained over 1000 layers - this would have been a nightmare without the correctly organisation.

The "group" button can be found at the bottom of the layers panel. Once clicked it opens a object similar to a folder, into which you can drag layers.


Photography Workspace

Photoshop CS5 contains a pre-created workspace for Photographers. This contains tools such as the histogram, masks, layers and adjustments. It is quick and easy to select, and you can find it in the drop down menu in the top right hand corner (as pictured below).

I myself prefer to use my own custom workspace, but it's a useful tool if you often switch between two types of design, such as Photography and 3D.


Smart Objects

Using a smart object can save you a lot of time if you are often creating similar pieces for clients. Rather than having to recreate the effect completely over again, you can use smart objects to remember the adjustments on the photo.

Converting a layer into a smart object is simple. Right click and select "Convert to smart object." From this point you can then treat it like a normal layer. In the example below I applied a few adjustment layers as well as a lens correction filter (which you can mask if needed).

The amazing thing about smart layers is that you can right click on them and click "Replace contents". At this point you can then select another photo which will then replace the current image but keep all the effects and masking. Files work best when they are the same size and shape.

You can also double click on smart layers and edit them in their own panel. This keeps your document clean and tidy, which is very useful if you are creating a photo montage and need to edit each of the images.


Locating a Layer

When you cannot find the layer you're after, you can simply place your mouse over the area in your image and right click. Up pops a list of the layers in use at the time, you can then select the layer you're after.

That's all there is to it!


Thanks for Reading

This Quick Tip wouldn't be complete without one final small tip: Hit "F" on your keyboard to cycle through the different screen modes.

I hope you've found this article useful, and I'd love to see any of your own time-saving Photoshop tips posted in the comments!

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