The Site Slinger Blog

Web Development, Design, and everything PSD to HTML
By Jeremy H.

How to Use Photoshop Layer Comps

If you’re one of those designers who prefer to design within a single master PSD file, while still being able to reuse elements and see design variations, then you’ll find the Layer Comps feature of Photoshop particularly useful. We know we do with our PSD to HTML projects.

For comparing different design variations, don’t waste your time remembering the different layer positions, visibility states, and layer style settings. Keep your workflow efficient and your file easily deciphered by your developer, client or project manager.

Enter Layer Comps

Layer Comps are an underused and incredibly helpful feature Adobe introduced in Photoshop CS. Layer Comps, or compositions, allow you to create and manage variations of your design without having to resort to multiple PSD files. Simply put, it gives you a snapshot of a state of the Layers panel. For web designers, this lets you clearly define what a page state should look like. It will also allow your developer the convenience of quickly moving between views, or referring back to the original state, without toggling the visibility of layers or shifting layer positions.

How to create a Layer Comp:
1. Adjust your layers into the design variation you want to save
2. Open the Layer Comps window (Window>>Layer Comps)
3. Click the ‘paper’ icon to “Create New Layer Comp” and name it
4. Repeat these steps for all variations you’d like to later view and manage

Options you can set for Layer Comps:
• Layer visibility – show or hide
• Layer position – save the position of each layer within the design
• Layer appearance – save the Layer Styles settings applied to each layer

Layer Comps
Image courtesy of Adobe.

We recommend using the Layer Comps feature of Photoshop for your PSD to HTML projects so you can communicate your design more clearly, and developers can easily see the variation or different page states. If you wanted to later, you could even save the Layer Comps into individual PSD files (File>>Scripts>>Layer Comps to Files), so there’s no loss in flexibility there. The organization of your designs and shareability of the PSD file will be improved, and your client, project manager and developer will love you for it!

You can read more about the specifics of using layer comps directly from Adobe, here.

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