I am going to start mixing in photoshop quick tips. If you have a quick photoshop tip (or tutorial) you want to share on my blog, please contact me with your ideas or submission. I would love to have you.
I often get asked “how do I know if I need to flatten before running another action or doing more editing?” This has to do with the order that your layers are in.
Pixel layers (on a normal blending mode) cover each other up. If the opacity is reduced of a pixel layer – it partially covers what is below it.
Adjustment layers (which RULE) do not cover your photo. They work like clear plastic wrap, a sheet of glass, etc. You can stack as many of these as you need without flattening.
If you place a pixel layer (which is like a photo copy of the picture) above the adjustment layers, it is like putting a solid piece of paper above clear plastic or glass. You can no longer see below it.
As shown in this screen shot – if the background copy or duplicate layer of the image is above the adjustment layers, it WILL COVER IT. It needs to either be moved below those 3 adjustment layers or you could flatten before doing whatever retouching needed a pixel layer.
In my own editing, I try and avoid pixel layers as much as possible. But there are certain things in Photoshop that need pixels to work. The tool I use most that needs pixels is the patch tool. Personally things like Sponging, Dodging and Burning, I prefer use work arounds with adjustment layers, versus using these tools that require pixels.
Let me know if you have any questions about this that I can address in a future quick tips.