Using Layer Comps in Photoshop

As a designer, you may be required to design several states for one item. For example, when designing a navigation menu, you may need to create several different interfaces/designs:

  1. What the menu looks like when the user IS NOT logged in
  2. What the menu looks like when the user IS logged in
  3. What the menu looks like when the user hovers or touches an item
  4. What the menu looks like on mobile devices or small resolutions

This is where the Layer Comps feature in Photoshop can come in really handy. Before I discovered Layer Comps, I would create separate folders for each state, then hide the other folders before saving a screenshot of the layer state. While this works perfectly fine, it can be a pain when you need to make changes to the layers and then turn everything back on or off accordingly.

Layer Comps save the visibility state of your layers, so you can make changes to them and the Layer Comps will update automatically.

Let’s show a simple example. When designing the Slot Stravaganza menu, I needed to show what the menu would look like if a user hadn’t yet connected to Facebook and also what the menu would look like if they already had:

facebookconnect1 facebookconnect2

First, I began by turning on/off all the appropriate layers so that everything looked exactly as I needed. Then, I went to the Layer Comps panel (Window > Layer Comps) and pressed the “New Layer Comp” icon:
layercomps

I named the Layer Comp, then pressed OK:
layercomps2

Then, I changed the visibility on my layers to show what the other state would look like. I repeated the steps above but this time named my layer “Facebook Is Not Connected”:
layercomps3

I now have 2 different Layer Comps, which I can turn on and off by selecting the icon to the left of each:
layercomps4

Now your design will show each set with only 1 click of the mouse, rather than repositioning and shuffling through your layers to turn them on/off. Super useful. ^_^

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