Was this after hours of work polishing and perfecting each part, and did you have to re-do most of it to compensate?
If so, I’m probably preaching to the converted. If you’ve already discovered the benefits of using layers then this tip isn’t for you (stop reading!).
Still here? Excellent, we’re about to make your life a whole lot easier.
“Using layers within your projects can give you back hours of time normally swallowed by tweaks and changes.”
Design; The Time-Intensive Way
When we hear about people taking days or hours to re-design and accomodate slight tweaks from clients digitally, I wouldn’t be surprised if we thought their process looked something like this:
After reviewing the project brief (in this example, its a website) they gather as much information as possible about their requirements, becoming confident that they understand the client’s needs. They then hurry off and spend a lot of time getting the layout right, making button appearances and polishing the design – gaining client approval all the way. There may be different variations of the same file showing the buttons in hover or click states as well as the main file showing everything laid out perfectly in place.
The client asks for a slightly different layout. Our poor freelancer rushes off to re-make the main file, moving things around, re-doing parts and polishing it again until it looks ‘right’. It’s presented again, maybe another change is needed, the cycle repeats. This time with a more resentful freelancer.
On the sunnier side…
I can’t give you the magical telepathic ability to see straight into the minds of your clients and produce the project 100% correctly the first time. Using this simple technique I can, however, make alterations less painful (if no less annoying). Wouldn’t it be much nicer to take an hour (at the very most, simple tweaks usually take far less time) instead of a day?
You could be doing something more useful than re-shuffling a design; reading, learning something new, playing video-games, spending time with your family… maybe even (getting a little crazy here) working on a project meaningful to you.
5 Steps to Freedom
Having discovered we love extra time the following steps will show you a really simple way to save some.
1 – Open your project in Photoshop (or your graphics program). From looking at it, decide what the different elements of the design are and make a mental note of them.
2 – Heading down to the layers section, create a new layer for each of the different elements you’ve just identified.
3 – Name your layers! On its own this will save roughly five minutes (depending on the amount of layers) each time you need to make a change. Say what’s on that layer in one or two words.
4 – Cut each of your elements from the main layer, then paste them in place on their own layer. If you happen to have a background to your design, you can patch it up after everything’s been taken off of it.
5 – With your newly split project you can re-design, tweak, and play at your leisure.
Having everything on its own layer makes it easy to tweak layouts, colours, and effects without the need to edit everything else. It also means that you can create alternate layouts within the same file and compare them without constantly moving everything.
Very simple. Terribly appealing.