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I have a background layer (under exposed image layer), second layer (over exposed image layer), I applied the layer mask on second layer to blend. I have set the second layer's opacity to 25%. Now, I want to apply some more edit to the layers. For example: I want to use Viveza2, generally i copy the top layer, and apply any effect. But, with layer masks, how do you copy so that all the effects below become my base line for any more edits? Also, I don't want to merge layers and apply my edit as that will make me loose my layers to come back to.

Please help.

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You could create a new layer from visible. It's kind of hidden in Photoshop, and only works via a shortcut: Ctrl+Alt+Shift+E (Windows) or Cmd+Opt+Shift+E (Mac). It basically creates a merged copy of all visible layers on a new layer.

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Create a smart object of your existing layers.

Highlight bother layers in the Layers Panel and from the Layer Panel Menu choose Create Smart Object. This will allow you to run filters (Smart filters) on a composite of the existing layers without destroying or duplicating them.

If you ever want to edit the original layers, merely double-click the Smart Object layer to open it and you can change the internal layers of the Smart Object.


That being posted, there are times were it is simply impossible to be non-destructive when editing. In those instances merely having a back up of various "stages" of an image can help. That way, if you do need to go backwards, you at least have some starting point.

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  • But will smart objects work with Viveza 2? Not entirely sure if they can be used with external/third party filters. – Billy Kerr Apr 20 at 19:33
  • No clue... never used Viveza... I tend to shy away from 3rd party plug ins for Photoshop in most instances. – Scott Apr 20 at 19:33
  • Seems it is just a filter.. so It may work as a smart filter... – Scott Apr 20 at 19:40
  • Although i have selected @BillyKerr's answer as I knew there was simpler solution because i have seen it in some video tutorial long back. But, your solution also works but it seems it create a large file. And, for people who see this answer, this might help. When you apply Viveza2 on a smart object, it gives a message that it has identified the active layer is a smart object and it will now operate as a smart filter. – Sri Reddy Apr 20 at 20:20
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    The benefit of a Smart Object is you can edit the original layers and not have to redo anything. While merging visible certainly works, if you ever want to change the original layers, you'll have to redo everything. Overall file size shouldn't really ever be a concern while editing an image. Size (kb) while editing means nothing.. it's results that matter. – Scott Apr 20 at 21:25

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