One of the issues that you’ll run into when you start creating multiple layers in Photoshop is losing track of which layer belongs to what element within your photo, especially once we introduce selective layer masks.

So how can we effectively manage and organize layers to make your editing workflow more user friendly?

Well that question I intend on answering in this article…

The photograph you are looking at is one I took quite a few years ago of a “Lady Bowen” Falls in Milford Sound on the South Island of New Zealand.

Layers Out of Control

Layers Out of Control…

As you can tell by the amount of layers in this file, I’ve spent a lot of time editing this image using older versions of Photoshop. It’s a perfect example of how complicated a photoshop file (.psd) can become once you introduce layers to an image.

In order to avoid your files turning out like this we need to manage and organize layers appropriately, so that they can be easily understood. What I’ve done is created another photoshop file that I’ve been playing around with to demonstrate how to group layers in photoshop easily.

As you may or may not know all layers can be re-ordered and it’s key to get the ordering of your layers right, especially when making adjustments.

Grouping, Organizing & Labeling Layers

Now to organize your layers, photoshop has a feature called “Groups” as represented by the folder icon. Groups allow you to place any layer within individual groups created by you.

How to Group Layers in Photoshop

You can prioritize your groups and layers by using colored labels to identify them by right clicking on the target layer and then naming and choosing a specific color for your label.

Make sure you give your layers a name that is obvious and can be easily understood.

So groups and labels are crucial to clearly distinguishing which layers belong to what and if your anything like me, you’ll want to use them in order to avoid any confusion in the future.