19 Replies Latest reply on Apr 12, 2017 4:38 PM by jerryp97433002

    Flatten vs Merge

    jerryp97433002 Level 1

      If you export a few images from Lr to Ps & open in layers to work the images most people flatten the images afterwards before saving & exporting back into Lr for touch up. I noticed on a video tutorial (YT) that they merged the layers instead of flattening. Is there a difference? Is one better then another & if so why?

        • 1. Re: Flatten vs Merge
          davescm Adobe Community Professional

          Two part answer:

           

          . I noticed on a video tutorial (YT) that they merged the layers instead of flattening. Is there a difference? Is one better then another & if so why?

           

          Merge vs Flattening - No difference in quality. Merge allows you to combine certain layers and leave others unflattened. Flatten will collapse them all.

           

          most people flatten the images afterwards before saving & exporting back into Lr for touch up.

           

          No no no !! . Always save as TIFF or PSD and keep the layers. You can choose TIFF or PSD in Lightroom Preferences  then you only need to hit Save. By keeping layers you can go back and make changes later.
          If you need a jpeg at some stage then Export a copy to that format. The export process will flatten the copy.

           

          Dave

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          • 2. Re: Flatten vs Merge
            c.pfaffenbichler Level 9
            exporting back into Lr for touch up

            Photoshop is a fine application to do touch-up and if one has the image open in Photoshop already reverting to Lightroom for touching it up seems strange to me.

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            • 3. Re: Flatten vs Merge
              jerryp97433002 Level 1

              Hi Dave, My workflow has been as follows:

              - Highlight the images in the layers panel

              - Flatten images

              - Ctrl-S

              - Image is saved back into Lr as TIFF

              Is this correct or would you make changes to my workflow?

              • 4. Re: Flatten vs Merge
                jerryp97433002 Level 1

                I am new to Ps & get most of my information from YT tutorials. I do most of my adjustments in Lr before exporting to Ps, verticals, lens corrections, white balance, etc...blend layers in Ps then flatten images & saves as TIFF back into Lr. That's about it, no more real adjustments, when I said touch up I didn't mean work the image again, I was referring to maybe a exposure adjustment + /- or white balance.

                • 5. Re: Flatten vs Merge
                  D Fosse Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                  ...but the problem is that Lightroom can't work with layers. If you do additional work in Lightroom on a layered file, all Lightroom can use is the flattened composite layer embedded in the file, and that's all you will ever get back from Lightroom afterwards.

                   

                  A roundtrip like this is really not a good idea, and very un-efficient use of both applications. I recommend doing as much as possible in Lightroom first, then send to Photoshop and do whatever you need there. Save. That's it, done.

                   

                  If you feel you need to use the Lightroom controls in Photoshop, use the ACR filter instead.

                  1 person found this helpful
                  • 6. Re: Flatten vs Merge
                    D Fosse Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                    jerryp97433002  wrote

                     

                    - Image is saved back into Lr as TIFF

                    There's a basic misunderstanding here (a quite common one).

                     

                    Images aren't saved "into" Lightroom. They are saved to disk. The Lightroom catalog does not contain images, it just contains a reference to where they are physically located on disk.

                     

                    What happens is just that this reference is tracked and automatically added to the Lightroom catalog when you save from Photoshop - if, and only if, Lightroom remains open during the save. If not, you have to re-import to the Lr catalog in the normal way.

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                    • 7. Re: Flatten vs Merge
                      davescm Adobe Community Professional

                      Hi Jerry

                      I work a lot with both Lightroom and Photoshop if I describe my workflow it may help you.

                       

                      1. Set Lightroom Preferences for external editing to TIFF or PSD (I use PSD but it is really personal choice).

                       

                      2. Raw Files :
                      Import them to Lightroom
                      Cull as required - be ruthless and get rid of the dross
                      Label and keyword

                      Use the Develop module for adjustments - sharpening, noise reduction etc

                       

                       

                       

                      3. For those that need pixel editing :

                      In Lightroom use Ctrl+E to Edit in Photoshop
                      Carry out any edits, add layers etc
                      Ctrl+S to Save - this will add the PSD to the Lightroom catalogue

                       

                       

                      4. Further edits.
                      Further adjustments can be done in Lightroom.
                      If I need to re-open in Photoshop then I get a choice:

                      a. Edit original - this opens in Photoshop with all layers intact but without the additional Lightroom adjustments. However on Save, those additional Lightroom adjustments are re-applied.

                      b. Edit a copy - this opens a copy in Photoshop without the Lightroom adjustments. On Save (Ctrl+S) a new copy appears in Lightroom with the changes in Photoshop and with the additional Lightroom adjustments  re-applied

                      c. Edit a copy with Lightroom adjustments. This opens a copy, with the additional Lightroom adjustments, but as a flattened image in Photoshop.

                       

                       

                       

                      5. Printing : This can be done from Lightroom or Photoshop (personally I tend to use Photoshop but that is just personal choice.

                       

                       

                       

                      6. Export : If I need an image for web I use Export to produce a suitably sized jpeg. Both Lightroom and Photoshop will do this - although I tend to use Photoshop - Save for Web just because I am used to it.

                       

                      I hope that helps you

                       

                      Dave

                      1 person found this helpful
                      • 8. Re: Flatten vs Merge
                        jerryp97433002 Level 1

                        Ok thanks for clarifying. I have been doing all my adjustments in Lr first before exporting into Ps. When re-imported I leave it alone, I may at times adjust the exposure +/- a tad if I realize it's off but that's about it. I will in the future use ACR instead.

                         

                        You said do all my adjustments in Lr first, then send to Ps and do whatever, Save & its done. I have to re-import to Lr because when I need to export to Jpeg from Lr I have  to label it along with the other images. I just started doing real estate photography & have a catalog started with clients images. Here in lies my question. If I have 3 images I exported from Lr to Ps, blend images using layer masks, then notice I need an adjustment I go into ACR, but do I merge the layers or flatten them before moving to ACR? What is best? 

                        • 9. Re: Flatten vs Merge
                          davescm Adobe Community Professional

                          Jerry

                          See post 7 part 4. - You can add further adjustments in Lightroom without losing the layers.

                           

                          Dave

                          • 10. Re: Flatten vs Merge
                            D Fosse Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                            The ACR filter - not the ACR plugin. The filter works on individual layers.

                             

                            Using Lightroom for file management is fine, of course, I do that myself. My point was that any Lightroom PSD adjustments will be applied as flattened data, even if the file itself is layered.

                            • 11. Re: Flatten vs Merge
                              D Fosse Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                              OK, Dave and I are not really contradicting each other as much as it looks. We're both right. The layers are there, but the Lightroom adjustments only apply to the flattened data.

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                              • 12. Re: Flatten vs Merge
                                davescm Adobe Community Professional

                                Absolutely right - no contradiction.

                                I just hate to see a workflow that involves unnecessary flattening, then later see a post which says " I flattened my layers and now need to alter ...... what do I do ?" 

                                 

                                 

                                 

                                For Jerry - when make adjustments in Lightroom the image actually is not adjusted as such. Lightroom just keeps a list of the changes and then applies them when displaying / or exporting etc. That is how it remains non-destructive and why it can give you the choices if you go back into Photoshop.

                                 

                                 

                                Dave

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                                • 13. Re: Flatten vs Merge
                                  D Fosse Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                                  Hah, now wer'e beginning to look like medieval scholars - how many angels can dance on the head of a pin...

                                   

                                  But I still want to bore everybody with why I think a round trip is a bad idea.

                                   

                                  It's this: If you take this layered file into Photoshop again, a second time, after you have applied those Lightroom adjustments - perhaps to re-tweak some adjustment layers or refine a mask - those Lightroom adjustments are suspended. They're not there.

                                   

                                  So if those Lr adjustments were crucial finishing touches, you're working blind. Yes, they will be re-applied, but not before you're done.

                                   

                                  (plus, the Lr edits won't be visible in Bridge, which doesn't matter for raw files, but is more important for PSD master files).

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                                  • 14. Re: Flatten vs Merge
                                    jerryp97433002 Level 1

                                    Dave, I appreciate all the advice & your workflow is useful but have a question when it comes to this:

                                     

                                    3. For those that need pixel editing : In Lightroom use Ctrl+E to Edit in Photoshop Carry out any edits, add layers etc
                                    Ctrl+S to Save - this will add the PSD to the Lightroom catalogue.

                                     

                                     

                                    If you added layers & are finished you have to highlight the layers & save so its back in Lr, do you merge together if flattening is a NoNo? I just tried it in Ps, I highlighted two images that were layered, went to Crtrl - S & it didn't save in Lr. If I merge them it saved it. Is this the correct way to do it if flattening is out?

                                     

                                    • 15. Re: Flatten vs Merge
                                      davescm Adobe Community Professional

                                      Hi Jerry,

                                       

                                      Provided that you set the preferences in step 1. Then under step 3 once you have finished in Photoshop you just save (no need to highlight or touch the layers). It will save as a PSD or a TIFF depending on how you set the preference and will add to the Lightroom catalogue.

                                       

                                      Here is an example :

                                      Preferences :

                                       

                                      Photo in Lightroom library :

                                      Ctrl+E in Lightroom to edit in Photoshop, then add a text layer

                                       

                                      Ctrl+S in Photoshop and close.

                                      Lightroom library now has the PSD copy with Text layer added shown next to the original Raw file

                                      New file has same name as old but with -Edit.PSD on the end.

                                       

                                      If you are not seeing the new PSD - make sure you don't have a filter applied to only show RAW files.

                                       

                                      Dave

                                      • 16. Re: Flatten vs Merge
                                        davescm Adobe Community Professional

                                         

                                         

                                        (plus, the Lr edits won't be visible in Bridge, which doesn't matter for raw files, but is more important for PSD master files).

                                         

                                        If you do use Bridge as well as LR, that last line is a very good reason not to do further edits in LR.

                                         

                                        For Jerry (OP), if you do decide to use the Camera Raw Filter on the Photoshop layered document , don't flatten it. Highlight the layers in Photoshop and make them a smart object. Then use the camera raw filter on the smart object. That way you can open the smart object later and still get back at the original layers.

                                        All this is about being able to go back and change things later if required.

                                         

                                         

                                        Dave

                                        2 people found this helpful
                                        • 17. Re: Flatten vs Merge
                                          jerryp97433002 Level 1

                                          I'm getting it now, no flattening no matter what so the image can be worked later before saving as a Jpeg. Those YT videos from photographers always show the images as needing to be flattened after exposure layers have been applied in Ps before bringing back into Lr. I guess if you are totally finished with it that's fine but why limit yourself. Just tried it with an image & see exactly what you mean. As always Thanks Dave...

                                          • 18. Re: Flatten vs Merge
                                            davescm Adobe Community Professional

                                            You've got it

                                            Point is you never know when you are totally finished. You go back next year and want it just slightly different (or you want to use an element from it in another image). From a fully layered master - no problem. From a flattened file - big issue !

                                             

                                            So layered PSDs/TIFFs for masters and Exported jpeg /png copies for sending to people or for web.

                                             

                                            Dave

                                            1 person found this helpful
                                            • 19. Re: Flatten vs Merge
                                              jerryp97433002 Level 1

                                              As always thanks Dave...