Layer Groups: How to Organize Your Photoshop Project

Layer Groups: How to Organize Your Photoshop Project

When editing in Photoshop, you can just keep all of your layers wherever you want, or you can use groups to organize your layers! If you’re brand new to learning Photoshop, it might take a little while to get comfortable with the concept of layers. Once you’re comfortable, you can get organized. If you’re doing some advanced editing, you’re likely to build up a lot of layers. Layer groups are the answer.

Proper naming of layers and organization in your Photoshop document will help you save time and make it easier on your whole team! Read on to find out how to easily create layer groups and organize your Photoshop files. Cover photo by Daniel Korpai.

What are Layer Groups?

These are simply folders of layers that help to organize your projects. With layer groups, you can hide an entire folder with just one click. For example, you can have all of the layers for an element grouped together and just hide them to see the rest of your design. This is great if you’re making a graphic with multiple variations. You can get rid of an entire component and replace it with another, with just one click, instead of unchecking many layers.

You can apply layer styles to an entire group and quickly apply effects to all the layers within at once.

How to Create Layer Groups

To create a new group, there are two ways. The first way is to click the folder symbol at the bottom of the Layers panel. Then you can drag layers into this folder to group them together.

The other method is to select multiple layers, right-click on them, and click “Group From Layers…” This will automatically move the selected layers into a folder together.

You can even group groups using the same methods, if you’re working on something really complex.

how to group layers in photoshop

How to Close and Expand Layer Groups

Once you have layers organized into groups, you can expand or close these folders. Closing them will make your layers panel easier to work with. To close or open a folder just click on the arrow on the left side of the group. If the arrow is pointing to the right, that means the group is closed. If the arrow is pointing down, that means the group is open. You can tell that layers are within a group because they will be slightly indented compared to the other layers in your project.

In addition to just organizing your project, groups have other uses. You can mass-apply certain effects to all layers within a group. These include moving, resizing, and even layer masks.

Layer Hierarchy

The big thing to keep in mind about grouping layers is that the hierarchy of layers remains exactly as they appear. The layers at the bottom of the group will be below those at the top, and all of the layers in the group will be above and below whatever the folder is above and below. So if you select multiple layers scattered throughout your design, and add them to a folder, their hierarchy will be adjusted. The new folder will be created right above the top-most layer that you selected, moving up any layers that were lower in your group’s hierarchy.

layer groups indented in photoshop

To remove a group, simply right click on it and select Ungroup Layers. This will remove the group and put the layers back into your project in the same order as they already were.

Overall, groups work a lot like layers. They can be moved, renamed, hidden, and more. This tool is easy to understand, and will make your projects a lot cleaner.

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