Photoshop CS2 Layer Tips

December 5, 2005 - 2:00am ||| 0 Comments | Add new

Unlinking One
If you've been using Photoshop CS2 at all, you've learned that linking layers (to align or distribute their contents, or transform them as a group) is slightly different than in previous versions, and takes a little getting used to.

Of course, with CS2's new ability to select multiple layers at once (by shift- or Command/Ctrl-clicking them), linking them is less necessary than before. You can align, distribute, and transform a multiple selection of layers without linking them first.

Still, if you're working with a lot of layers and repeatedly manipulating the same set of layers in unison, it's a lot easier to link them at some point. Just select them and click the Link icon at the bottom of the palette, or choose Link Layer from the palette menu or Layer menu. The link icons appear to the right of each layer that was selected. From then on, all you need to do is select one of the linked layers, do something to it, and the other layers linked to it will transform in unison. It's kind of like a Save Selection for multiple layers.

But what if at some point you want to transform all of the layers in the linked group, except one? In CS1 and previous, you just needed to click the layer's link icon (to the left of the layer name in the now-defunct Link column) to toggle its link state on and off. You'd think in CS2 you could click the Link icon to the right of the layer name to unlink it, but you'd be wrong — clicking the link icon does nothing. Worse, clicking the Link icon at the bottom of the palette unlinks all the layers in that set from each other, not just the one that was selected. Arghness.

The solution is simple, thank heavens. To unlink one layer from the rest, shift-click its link icon on the right (don't just click, shift-click). A red X appears on top of layer's link icon indicating it's temporarily unlinked. Do what you will with the other linked layers and the X'd layer stays put. When you're done and you want to re-link the layer to the others, shift-click on the red X and it disappears, leaving the link icon intact.

Select Similar
I often want to select layers that are the same kind — all the text layers, for example, or all the raster layers and not the vector or type layers. That's why I was happy to see a new command, Select Similar Layers, that does just that. Select a layer and choose the command, and magically, all the other layers that are the same kind become selected.

I'll wait here for a second while you look for the command. La da da, la da di. Couldn't find it, could you? That's because you looked in the obvious places, my child. It's not in the Layer menu nor in the Layer palette menu. It's hiding in plain sight in the Select menu (Select > Similar Layers) which I grudgingly concede is the logical home. Good news, the Select Similar Layers command is also hiding in the contextual menu — right-click on a layer to access it.

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