The Golden Rule of Photoshop!

Last week I broke The Golden Rule of Photoshop. I’ve been using and teaching photoshop skills for around 13 years and this is always the first thing I tell students so I was furious with myself for forgetting. My excuse was that it was late at night and I was very tired but still, I really should have known better.

So what was this rule I broke?

The Golden Rule of Photoshop
Always, always, always keep the layered version of your file

Or to put it another way:

When you finish your work and flatten the layers, never press Save. Always click Save As… and save it as a different file.

This is so, so important because once you have flattened an image there is no easy way to separate out those layers again. And even if you think the figure is completely done, there is always a chance that a change will need to be made.

If by accident you do overwrite your main file with a flattened version, you might just be ok, as long as you don’t close the file! This is where Undo (Ctrl-Z) or Step Backward (Alt-Ctrl-Z) are your saviours. Undo your steps until all the layers reappear then Save again.

When I made this mistake the other day, it wasn’t on a scientific figure, it was on a poster I was designing for a local school fair. I didn’t realise my mistake until the next day, but luckily in this case no changes have been required, it really did turn out to the final version so I got away with it. But still, I don’t think I’ll make that mistake again soon…..


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