In this post, I’m going to go through a fun little project. My goal is to open three photos into Photoshop as layers and arrange them in a new file a certain way. To do this, I’ll use Adobe Bridge and, of course, Photoshop itself.
What I’d like to show you are a few simple tips to help out your workflow. They aren’t anything huge or earth moving, but by recognizing that you have the ability to accomplish some really neat things, you’ll be able to shave at least a few minutes from each project.
Opening Files As Layers Into Photoshop
I’m going to use Bridge to open three files directly into Photoshop. I want each of these photos to be their own layer. To do this, I need to select each photo thumbnail and then head up to the “Tools > Photoshop > Load Files Into Photoshop Layers” menu.
Once I click this menu option, I’ll see Photoshop open up with just as I thought – each of my photos as its own layer.
Creating a New Document in Photoshop
Now, what I’d like to do is create one file that has all three of these photos in it. Sort of like a brochure. To start things off, I’m going to create a new document in Photoshop. Since I already know that each photo that I imported earlier is 1000×667 pixels, I’ll create the new document with those same dimensions. I’ll go to the “File > New” menu option and click that.
Once I see the new document dialog box appear, I’ll go ahead and fill in the file name and the dimensions. In this case, I’ll name the new document “Food-Pics” and, like I said earlier, I’ll give it the dimensions of 1000 pixels wide and 667 pixels high.
This will give me a new blank document called Food-Pics.
Moving Layers Into the Blank Document
I want to let you know something – If I had clicked “Ctrl O” or “File > Open” from the top menu after I selected my thumbnails in Bridge, I could have opened each of my files as separate tabs in Photoshop. The reason I didn’t want to do that was because I wanted to store each file as a layer in just one tab for simplicity’s sake. Sometimes, I open many, many files and to have them all listed as tabs can be overwhelming. Really though, it’s up to you whether you want to see just one tab or many tabs.
The next step in this project is to move each layer (or file) over to the new document. I’m going to do this one at a time because I want to adjust their positioning directly after adding them.
The first layer I’d like to move over is labeled “gold-roasted-yukon-potatoes.jpg.” By the way, these are photos I took last night during my attempt at a new recipe. In order to move an existing layer in one document to a new document is to select the layer in the “Layers” panel. Then, using the “Move Tool,” drag the layer up to the new document’s tab. Don’t let go yet. Once you roll over the new document’s tab, Photoshop will switch to that new (or other) document. Once it switches, you can continue to drag the layer down into the document canvas and let go. You may encounter a few boxes that ask what you’d like to do about color and things like that. If that’s the case, answer them the way you’d like and click “OK.” You should now see the layer as a layer in the other document. Here’s a tip: To have the layer you’re moving over centered in the canvas of the new document, simply click and hold down the “Shift” key while you’re letting go of your mouse button.
This is where Photoshop gets really cool. Since my plan is to eventually have one of my layers cover the bottom half of the document and the other two layer share the top half, I’m going to need some sort of guidance. Let’s go over how to set up guides.
I know I already have my rulers showing in my example file, but if I didn’t, I’d need to go to the “View > Rulers” menu and make sure it’s checked off. This will make the rules appear around the workspace.
If I right-click in one of the rulers, I can see which measurement mode it’s currently in. For this project, I’d like to use “Percent,” so if that’s not the one that’s currently selected, I’ll need to select it.
Now, since I can easily see the 50% marks, I can click inside the ruler areas and drag down into my canvas. Each time I do this, a new guide appears. To create a guide that horizontally halves the document, I’ll click inside the the top horizontal ruler and drag down until the small indicator says 50%. To create a guide that vertically halves the document, I need to do the same thing, but this time, I’ll click and drag from the left side vertical ruler.
Because it was difficult to move the guide to exactly 50% the way the document was sized, I clicked “Ctrl +” on my keyboard to enlarge my view and to give me some breathing room.
Arranging the Layers
I’m going to be repeating this same step for all three layers, once they’re over in this document, so this is important.
I already mentioned that I want the layer that I already dragged over to this new document to cover the entire bottom half. Instead of me selecting the layer in the “Layers” panel, clicking and dragging it around by eye, I can select the layer and let Photoshop do the alignment work for me.
To do this, I’m going to head up to the “Marquee Tool” and select it. Then, I’m going to draw a thin box from one side of the canvas to the other, near and parallel to the horizontal guide. After that, I’m going to nudge the marquee box up or down so the top border covers the horizontal guide. Take a look at the screenshot below.
At this point, I should have a box that’s touching both sides of the canvas and that’s covering the horizontal guide.
Now, I’m going to go back and select my “Move Tool” and notice how the options menu changes up top. We’ve got some items that are going to help.
What I’ve got circled in red are alignment tools. The way they work is that they align any selected layer that’s inside a marquee, according to whichever tool you choose. Since I clicked on the one that aligns the top edge of the layer with the top edge of the marquee box, that’s what I got. So, you can see how my layer changed position. Just for good measure, I could have clicked the other alignment tool that centers the layer, but I already knew it was centered, so I didn’t do that.
Finishing the Project
To finish this project, all I’ve got to do is repeat what I’ve already done. I have to drag the next layer over to this document and align it. And then I need to do the same thing for the last layer. I just need to get creative with my alignment tools. One you play around with them, you get used to them fast.
Once I’m finished introducing these other layers to my “Food-Pics” document and I finish arranging them how I’d like, I can remove the guides by clicking on my “Move Tool” and then hovering over each guide. Once I see the cursor change to a small double arrow, I can click and drag the guide off the screen. After that, I’ll have my final image.
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