I have a design made in Illustrator (see pictured below) which is separated into 3 layers (one for the yellow, one for the orange, and one for red).

Illustrator illustration

breakdown of layers

I want to apply separate effects in Photoshop to each of these layers. I want to keep editability of the design intact. I do this by placing the illustrator file as linked. However, the linked item comes into photoshop with whatever layers are shown/hidden in the illustrator file.

What I am hoping for is some way to override layer visibility as it is possible to do in InDesign so that I can keep my design intact in Illustrator and apply effects to each layer as separate layers in Photoshop.

desired photoshop structure

I want my Photoshop layers to be set up like above, but with each layer showing different illustrator layers. In InDesign there is an option to create layer overrides on linked illustrator files, but in Photoshop I can't find such a feature. One workaround would be to link the Illustrator file into another file three times, on three separate artboards and sequentially hide and show the layers and update each link. (This can't be done in Photoshop as they all update at the same time.) However, this is really clunky and it seems like there must be a better way since this functionality exists in InDesign.

Many thanks.

  • Hi. What specific effects are you trying to apply to these layers in Photoshop? Ultimately, what is the purpose of doing it in Photoshop? What problem are you trying to solve by doing this?
    – Billy Kerr
    Jan 9 at 11:49
  • A few things... The idea was to make it appear like a printed design – printed in 3 separate parts, so I would apply affects like inner glow, wave distortion and layer masks with image textures to each layer. When they overlap they would show through one another through the layer masks so each layer really needs to have its own set of effects applied. I have a few designs I want to do this to and I'd really like to keep all the editability I can. (Sorry I pressed enter by accident before finishing my comment!)
    – JdP
    Jan 9 at 11:52
  • 2
    What about splitting up your design into three separate AI files?
    – Billy Kerr
    Jan 9 at 12:23
  • Well that's pretty much what I can achieve in illustrator by splitting it into three art-boards and then linking to each artboard in photoshop, but then I have to put the layers back together as whole to make edits
    – JdP
    Jan 9 at 20:23
  • Sure. That might work too. Ultimately, there's no easy way around this. AFAIK you can't have one AI file with different layers visible in each instance of that same linked file in a Photoshop document.
    – Billy Kerr
    Jan 9 at 20:31

1 Answer 1


You can copy each layer in Illustrator, and paste them as Smart Objects in Photoshop.

This will create a new vector smart object tho, and is not linked to your original vector file with all of your layers. If you wish to have the changes of original artwork update in your photoshop file, the Place Linked is your only option (as far as I know), but doing so will get you back to your starting point.

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