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New Layer Features In Photoshop CS6

So Photoshop CS6 is here. There are quite a few nice features added to this update but for this article I thought I’d just have a quick look at some of the improvements that have been made to the Layers panel.

Layers eh! We all know (I know I do!) that when working on a complex Photoshop document that layers can get out of hand very fast! A lot of the time you don’t want to interrupt the creative work flow with boring stuff like actually naming your layers. This leads to a massive stack of things like Layer 97, Layer 126 etc. Then when it comes to finding that important 2px element you spend loads of time trying to find it! A needle in a haystack!

CS6 brings some major changes to the way you can sort layers, it won’t name them for you but it’s a great start!

I’ve created a quick PSD with a load of various layer types. I’ve used Layer Styles, Clipping, Blend Modes and Groups.

Layer styles, Clipping, Blend Modes and Groups.

Selecting Layers From The Document

One of the most handy features is the ability to automatically select a layer by simply clicking on it in the document. This used to be done by Command-clicking (or Control-clicking on a PC) in the document but now we have a handy checkbox called ‘Auto Select’. You can choose Layer or Group. With this on, clicking in the document selects the layer in the stack.

Selecting layers

There is also another checkbox that will automatically invoke the Transform controls without having to use the Command-T key command which is very handy too!

Transform checkbox

Assigning Blend Modes

Blending modes can now also be assigned to multiple layers at once. At last! Here I’m selecting two of the new vector shape layers and choosing Multiply. 

Assigning blending to multiple layers

Here you can see they have both been changed.

Good news!!

Filtering Layers

Probably the most significant feature as far as layers go is the ability to show and hide layers based on their properties. This filtering is very well thought out and a welcome addition.

There are a few options to play with. First are the icon switches when ‘Kind’ is selected. This allows you to show the basic layer types like Pixel, Adjustment Layer, Type, Shape etc.

Here I’ve selected Adjustment Layer.

Adjustment Layer

And now Shape Layers.

Shape Layers

We can also filter by Name. Note this is only any good if you're fastidious about naming!! :)

Filter by Name

We can choose by Effect type. Namely effects used in a Layer Style.

Effect type

And search by Blending mode.

search by Blending mode

We also have a choice of attributes for the layers.

Attributes for layers

Here we can see all Locked layers.

Locked layers

Empty layers. I always end up with a load of these somehow!

Empty layers

We can also select and show layers based on what isn’t happening. Like this Not Clipped.

We can show based on organizational properties like color.

All in all these additions to the layer panel will prove to be a winner for most users. 

Convert To 3D

The Layers menu also has an option to convert a layer straight into a 3D object.

New 3D extrusion option

This brings up the 3D tools and you're good to go.

3D tools

A quick render and you're done! Simple!!

Toby Pitman

Toby Pitman | Articles by this author

For the past 20 years Toby has worked as a professional guitarist, programmer and producer. Clients include Sir Paul McCartney, George Michael, Shirley Bassey, Yusuf Islam, Giles Martin as well as the London 2012 Olympic Ceremonies. He has also worked extensively in TV, Advertising and Film. As well as composing himself he has also worked alongside many composers like David Arnold, Clint Mansell and Simon Franglen on many major film releases. An expert in synthesis and sound design Toby has also lectured for Apple on their Logic Pro music software which he has used since its days on the Atari. He has also worked as an educator for the International Guitar Foundation and the Brighton Institute of Modern Music teaching guitar. In his spare time (of which there is very little) he moonlights as a motion graphics artist specialising in Cinema 4D and After Effects.


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