A blog sharing resources and inspiration for designers

  • Feb 19 / 2014
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Designer Tips, Graphic Design, Web Design

Photoshop Etiquette


When working with photoshop files the chances of someone else having to use them is pretty high, either a developer to get assets, another designer to make a copy change while you’re home sick, or another agency to use your design. This is why it’s important to keep your .psd file organised, keeping it clean also makes moving around inside your file quicker.

There’s nothing more painful then having to make changes to someone else’s unorganised files, don’t be the designer who has left the file a mess. It’s unprofessional and a massive pain, I know that personally it’s changed my opinion of other designers, sometimes good and sometimes very bad.

Here are some simple tips you can follow to keep your files organised:

1 – Name your layers

Spending that extra few seconds naming your layers at the start of a project will save you valuable time later on.

2 – Group layers logically

When working with layers from a similar area of your design place those layers into a group. This not only helps keep it organised, it makes it easy to move that section around.

3 – Panel Options

A hidden gem of photoshop is the ‘Panel Options’ setting which can be accessed via the menu drop down on the top right of the layers panel. By default ‘Expand New Effects’ and ‘Add copy to copied layers and groups’ will be selected, turn them off!

When working with files that have lots of layers, the expanded effects panels take up a lot of room. The ‘add copy’ gives you layers called ‘BGFILL copy copy copy’ which doesn’t help anyone.

4 – Use smart objects

When working with images you’re likely to have to resize them at some point, when adding them to your file just right click on the layer and click ‘Convert to smart object’ before you scale it down, this way if it has to be made larger later on the image will still appear crisp.

5 – Keep smart objects at a manageable size

Even though smart objects are great for maintaining a high quality design, they also bump the file size up a lot if you’re using huge images. When making them in your file just make sure they aren’t at an unmanageable size before converting to a smart object.

6 – Use version numbers in the file name

Numbering your files makes it easier to find the latest designs.

7 – Avoid layer comps

Some people love them, some people hate them. I hate them. Either way, if you jump into a file which has layer comps and you’re not aware of them, you’re going to end up messing it up. Grouping your layers is a better standard to work to.

8 – Delete unused assets

Throughout your design process you’re bound to have layers in there which are no longer needed, delete them. If you have to go back to a previous version when that layer was needed, you should have it backed up in a previous psd, right?

They might seem like a pain now, but before you know it they will become second nature to you and will save you a world of pain later on.