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arranging layers

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  • arranging layers

    Hi everybody!

    This question is about fashion and beauty retouching..

    My layers always end up a complete mess, and I am having to merge down f.eks. the dodge and burn layer in order to use free transform etc.
    I always keep color adjustments and curves on top, but even then, when I try to clone on a layer underneath, it is affected by the curve above.
    And obstacles like these means that i end up not being able to adjust later on.

    I am a member of several tutorial sites etc. but nobody seems to go in-depth about layer organising, and give some clear instructions.

    I need some kind of recipe which leaves all layers open to correction, in a way where they don't interfear with eachother

    Any advice, or link to a good tutorial?


  • #2
    Re: arranging layers

    Make sure that the clone stamp tool and healing brush are set to 'current and below'. That way the cleanup layers won't be affected by the curve and adjustment layers above them.


    • #3
      Re: arranging layers

      Thank you! I will do that..
      Do you know the best place to locate the DB layer (50% grey, soft light)?
      I can't do any free transform after , all the strokes show up, and I therefore have to merge it.
      I rarely use the healing brush, so that one is not a problem..


      • #4
        Re: arranging layers

        I put the DB layer above the cloning cleanup layer and try to do most of my cloning before I start dodging and burning.

        Usually this works for me but sometimes I will notice things after I have already dodged and burned that still need fixing on the cloning layer and when I start cloning again it doesn't look good because of the dodge and burn layer above it. In that case I create another cloning layer above the DB layer.

        Ideally you would do your free transforming first before cloning and dodge and burning and creating your adjustment layers, but that is not always possible and so yeah sometimes I end up with messy layer stacks.


        • #5
          Re: arranging layers

          Thank you, this is great help, I need to get these things sorted..
          Another problem get is that if I want to continue on top of my color and curve layers, doing something else, it seems to me I need to merge in order to continue, because the layers are "empty".. I used to just merge, but with clients I need to keep everything flexible..


          • #6
            Re: arranging layers

            Originally posted by looby View Post
            Another problem get is that if I want to continue on top of my color and curve layers, doing something else, it seems to me I need to merge in order to continue, because the layers are "empty".. I used to just merge, but with clients I need to keep everything flexible..
            Maybe you could just turn off the curve and color layers above and then do your merging of the cloning and DB layers to do what ever that something else is? That way you won't loose the ability to make future edits to the curve and color layers above. Usually it is not necessary for me to include the curve and color layers in a merge.


            • #7
              Re: arranging layers

              Thanks! Never thought of that..But ideally I would like to keep all layers active, is that possible? If I turned off everything exept the background and merged visable? I will go and try..


              • #8
                Re: arranging layers

                Just turn your curves and adjustment layers back on after you have merged the cleanup and DB layers below them and they are active once again.

                If you want to merge layers but not loose the layers underneath the keyboard shortcut on a mac is Command +Option +Shift +E. On windows it is Control + Alt + Shift + E. That way you could always mask out your merged copy layer if you want to go back to the earlier DB and cloning layers underneath.


                • #9
                  Re: arranging layers

                  Hmm, not possible. I need all layers to stay active, especially the DB layer, it is the most important


                  • #10
                    Re: arranging layers

                    Thank you for your reply. I don't want to merge anything at all, that is my problem. I just want a new layer with an image in. The shortcut you mention is what I have always done, but it is almost like flattening.. I don't understand what you mean by masking out the copied layer.
                    From my experience it is game over as soon as you use the comand+opt+shift+E.
                    It has been a mystery for years how I can continue without merging?


                    • #11
                      Re: arranging layers

                      Well I meant by "masking out" creating a mask on the merged copy layer and painting on it with black so that you could go back to the original DB layer and work on it again if you want to.

                      I am not exactly sure why you need to merge the cleanup and dodge and burn layers? Maybe you don't have to since you seem not to want to loose your original DB layer. You would probably only need to merge them if you are doing free transformations later on in your workflow after you have already cloned and dodged and burned.


                      • #12
                        Re: arranging layers

                        I like to structure my layers thusly, from the bottom up:

                        Pixels (original image, cloning, painting, etc)
                        Tonal moves (contrast density)

                        Putting tone moves on top of color can mess up your color.

                        SL D&B can be both tonal and color, so it get tricky where to put it, but I generally consider it a tonal move, and would keep it below, say, HSL or selective color moves.

                        Non Destructive means always being able to go back to the original, which means working on a deleteble or maskable layer. But no workflow will ever be so pure that some work will never have to be "erased" and redone.

                        So, if you've done a considerable amount of work on an image and then decide you need to transform something, you have a couple of options. You can turn off your tone+color layers and make a stamp of just the pixel area that needs fixing (say, a hand) transform that area, delete that area of your D&B layer (paint w/ 128 gray) and redo that area of D&B on that original D&B layer. Or, you can include the D&B in your stamp visible, then do your transform, then start a new D&B layer above, and of course turn your other tone and color layers back on.

                        The point is that you can limit the size of your stamp to the area that needs fixing. You also know that were ever you are in the game you can always copy an area of the original above your pixel layers, but below your color tone layers, and redo whatever warping, cloning, D&B, etc, that needs to be done to it but with your general tone and color moves still in place above it.

                        I don't know if that's helpful. The point is to limit your stamp to the area you are working on, possibly include your D&B in the stamp, but if you ultimately need to redo the D&B on some small area of the photo, so be it. Do what you gotta do.


                        • #13
                          Re: arranging layers

                          usually I like to go back and forth, I never do anything in one go.
                          I just had a problem again, but this time with the high-pass, when soft light layer came on, there were some scripples in there?

                          Actually the DB and the high pass are always messing up things...

                          Should I not do any structure changes after DB? Is that the only way to avoid the mess-ups?


                          • #14
                            Re: arranging layers

                            Thank you Flashtones, very helpful stuff.. I guess I thought there was not limits to the flexibility..I will have to pay more attention to the order I do things.
                            Where would you put the high-pass layer?


                            • #15
                              Re: arranging layers

                              Originally posted by looby View Post
                              Where would you put the high-pass layer?
                              if it's a high radius contrast move I'd consider it a tonal move and put it above pixels (obviously) and below color. If it's a low radius sharpening move I'd save it for the end and put it at the top of the stack, because sharpening can be size/output related, and you want to be able to turn it off and redo as needed.

                              But keep in mind HP is based on your pixels. If you're going to do additional pixel work(clone,transform/liquify, etc.) you'll need to redo it. No big deal, just another example of something that sometimes needs to be redone, however pure your workflow.


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