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Adobe Photoshop Quick Tip 1

Stamping and merging layers By Dave Nagel
This week we launch into a new series on Adobe Photoshop, a series that will periodically provide quick and easy productivity tips for Adobe Photoshop users. Photoshop, which is, obviously, one of the more mature applications for creative production, is loaded with little secrets that beginners, intermediates and even long-time users may be unaware of. The tips we show you in this series may do nothing more than save you a little bit of time or save you from the frustrations of dealing with lengthy, repetitive tasks in complex images.

For our first tip, we look at simple methods for stamping images and merging layers. Of course, it's not difficult to merge layers. But here are some techniques you might not be aware of.

Stamping layers
When we speak about "stamping" layers, we're not talking about creating stamp effects or using the Stamp tool to duplicate portions of a layer. Rather, we're talking about combining multiple layers into a new, single layer without flattening the image and without losing the original layer structure of the image.

Why? Well, stamps can be used for a variety of purposes, from internal Photoshop operations--such as defining patterns or brushes--to exporting for non-linear editors or other applications that don't deal well with transparency when there are layer effects in your image.

There are several ways to do this. Here's the easiest.

1. Open up the Layers palette in Photoshop. The sample composition below uses a combination of type, bitmap data and layer styles.

2. Create a new layer as the topmost layer in the hierarchy. (With some version of Photoshop, this extra step is not needed.)

3. On a Macintosh, type Shift-Option-Command-E. On Windows, type Shift-Alt-Control-E. This stamps all of your visible layers into your currently selected layer (in this case, the layer you created in Step 2).

Note that all layer effects are also merged into the stamped layer.

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