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Flattening a PSD file without losing adjustments

New Here ,
Dec 21, 2016

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Hi. I have opened (and tried imported, and tried placed) scanned art into a psd file so I can apply levels to darken it up. When I try to merge the layers (or flatten, or merge what's visible), the adjustment layer isn't applied into the flattened layer.

I have read on similar threads that it has something to do with 100% view. But I have tried all of that and it doesn't work.

Probably something simple I am missing. Any help is appreciated. Working in CS6. Thanks.

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Flattening a PSD file without losing adjustments

New Here ,
Dec 21, 2016

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Hi. I have opened (and tried imported, and tried placed) scanned art into a psd file so I can apply levels to darken it up. When I try to merge the layers (or flatten, or merge what's visible), the adjustment layer isn't applied into the flattened layer.

I have read on similar threads that it has something to do with 100% view. But I have tried all of that and it doesn't work.

Probably something simple I am missing. Any help is appreciated. Working in CS6. Thanks.

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Dec 21, 2016 0
Adobe Community Professional ,
Dec 21, 2016

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Was there a time that this process did what was expected? In other words, is this a recent problem?

(Note: I may have to leave soon, I hope others here can look at it.)

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Dec 21, 2016 0
New Here ,
Dec 21, 2016

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Hi Gener7. No, this has happened before. Strange thing is flattening adjustment layers on a photo or art brought in from ai (or art strictly created in psd) works just fine whereas anything imported in (or opened, or placed) that was originally scanned in from scanner will not flatten with an adjustment layer and retain the adjustment layer. SO one would think it is a scanner setting but I am at a loss as to what that might be- perhaps a different thread now if a scanner issue

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Dec 21, 2016 0
Adobe Community Professional ,
Dec 21, 2016

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Hi Sean

Can you show us 3 screenshots.

The layers panel before you Flatten the image - showing all layers

A part of the image at 100% view immediately before you hit Flatten Image

The same part of the image at 100% view immediately after you hit Flatten Image

Thanks

Dave

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Dec 21, 2016 1
Adobe Community Professional ,
Dec 21, 2016

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Ok, cool. We are making progress.   May be something the scanner is doing.

When you import a scanned image, perhaps flattening it before applying an adjustment layer might do the trick.

Then see if the adjustment takes. For scans, tiff or psd should be the format set on your scanner. Jpeg does not support layers.

I hope it's something traditional in RGB mode 8 or 16 bit and the Layer Blend mode is Normal, 100% on both Fill and Opacity.

Check the Channels Panel. You should only see the R G and B channels plus a composite channel.

All I can think of for now.

Gene

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Dec 21, 2016 0
New Here ,
Dec 21, 2016

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Hi Dave, I have placed the screenshots below, with before and after flattening at 100%view. A quick side note, I like to bring the art over into ai and add edits there. Placing (or opening) a saved flattened file (with previous adjustment layers) from psd also doesn't show applied adjustment layers in ai- viewed at 100%. Thanks.

Screen Shot 2016-12-21 at 12.53.52 PM.png

Screen Shot 2016-12-21 at 12.55.02 PM.png

Screen Shot 2016-12-21 at 12.55.16 PM.png

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Dec 21, 2016 0
New Here ,
Dec 21, 2016

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Thanks gener7. I have tried flattening the scanned image upon bringing it into psd but no luck. It is in RGB. Tried 8 and 16 bit. Blend mode at Normal 100% on both fill and opacity.

The scans come in as a pdf.

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Dec 21, 2016 0
Adobe Community Professional ,
Dec 21, 2016

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Sean

I see no difference between those before and after screenshots.

In fact I imported both - aligned them and set blending mode to Difference - result a complete black screen

Dave

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Dec 21, 2016 1
New Here ,
Dec 21, 2016

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Dave, when I bring in the file into Ai, it looks quite different. I have made a screenshot of how the layers look (art layer and adjustment layer) unmerged when in Photoshop. I placed the screenshot into ai beside the same file where the layers were merged and opened in ai. Hope that makes sense. I am probably missing something here about going from psd to ai in terms of the view. I see what you are saying about the screenshots looking the same at 100% in psd. Just can't figure out why they look so different at 100% in ai. This is probably something really simple I am missing See screenshot below:

adj layer issue-01.jpg

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Dec 21, 2016 0
Adobe Community Professional ,
Dec 21, 2016

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Sean David, I haven't had time to thoroughly read every post here, but just so it's clear:

Viewing at 100% isn't supposed to "fix" anything - it's to give an accurate preview. A zoomed preview isn't accurate - it's not showing you how the final adjustment ends up.

This is because, for preview purposes, to speed up performance, the calculations are performed on this scaled version. This scaling softens the image and introduces intermediate gray values that aren't really there in the original.

Line art is either black or white. Mid-tonal adjustments have no effect on pure black or pure white. But with a scaled/softened version it will seem like they do.

---

Illustrator doesn't operate by pixels. It operates by physical print dimensions. Ai doesn't show you a true 100% view like Photoshop does, where one image pixel is represented by one screen pixel.

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Dec 21, 2016 1
Adobe Community Professional ,
Dec 21, 2016

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Hi Sean

So it's not the flattening but something in the conversion back into illustrator.

I took your screenshot and saved it as a PSD.

I opened that PSD in illustrator and got the following :

I accepted as shown and then got a profile message (I had assigned sRGB to the PSD in Photoshop as your screenshot had no profile. Again I accepted it.

It opened a file that on the face of it looked almost identical to the Photoshop screen.

AI:

Photoshop:

So to make sure I took a screenshot of each and combined them as two layers in Photoshop with the difference blending mode.

I had to auto-align the layers (probably differences in display scaling between the two applications - only Photoshop maps 1image pixel  to 1 screen pixel at 100%)

Switching between the two screenshot layers the difference was  just visible. Switching to blending mode difference showed the following :

So in short yes - the import process did introduce a small difference - but not as visible as your example. Did you use the same settings?

Dave

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Dec 21, 2016 0
New Here ,
Dec 21, 2016

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Hi Dave. Yeah, I don't get it because my are quite different. Tried the same process as above and the two looked more different than what you did above (which I really appreciate you taking the time to try).

As for the view in Photoshop being the difference (if I can step back),  I don't understand why I can merge layers with adjustment layers on a photo and see applied changes in the merged layers, whether I am viewing it at 25% versus 100%. Whereas with this art in Photoshop, which was scanned in, it looks like the adjustment layers are applied when all layers are merged if I am zoomed in at 100%, but when zoomed out to 25% (to show the full artboard) it looks like it reverts back to the original. Does that make sense? And of course, that follow over into Illustrator where the psd file with merged layers that contained an adjustment layer just looks like the original art without the applied adjustment layer. Sorry if this is getting too wordy

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Dec 21, 2016 0
Adobe Community Professional ,
Dec 21, 2016

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No problem with taking a bit of time.

As D.Fosse said earlier, at less than 100% you are not viewing the impact of adjustments on the image but the impact on a preview. It is not just less pixels either.

Noel Carboni (who use to post here a lot) once explained to me that previews at zoom levels of less than 66.7% actually used 8 bit to calculate the preview even if the image was in 16-bit. This made sense as we saw an issue recently with group blending modes that only affected 16 bit images - but disappeared when zoomed out (i.e. when the blending was applied to the preview in 8 bit).

Hence the only really reliable way to judge an image with adjustments and blending is to check at 100%.

For many images the difference at different zoom levels is so minor as to be invisible - but occasionally an image does show a big difference e.g. stars in the sky, small dots on a page, I recently had an image with deliberate posterization which moved when I zoomed out.

Hope this helps

Dave

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Dec 21, 2016 0
New Here ,
Dec 21, 2016

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Thanks Dave. This is helpful. Really appreciate your time.

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Dec 21, 2016 0
New Here ,
Sep 21, 2020

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Recently I found the pixel density will make a big difference in physical size of the artwork. If you print one file at 72 pixels/square inch for a canvas size of say 3 x 3 inches and print the same image changing the pixel density to 300, for a 3 x 3 canvas size you'll find the image grew larger. I check for this before printing and in your import from AI, (I have not used AI extensively I would think this holds true as well). Use the same pixel density within and between transfers is my best advise. 

Sebastian!

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Sep 21, 2020 0
Adobe Community Professional ,
Dec 21, 2016

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My first trick when this happens, is to add a copy merged layer to the top of the stack (Shift Ctrl Alt e), then flatten. That generally works.

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Dec 21, 2016 1
New Here ,
Dec 21, 2016

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Hi Trevor.Dennis. I am not sure I am tracking with ya on your suggestion. When I make a copy of the merged layer, the merged layer doesn't retain the adjustment layer- so it appears back to how it was to begin with. Anytime I try to merge it does away with any adjustments. So not able to make a copy of a merged layer that has the adjustments applied- if that is what you are saying.

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Dec 21, 2016 0
Adobe Community Professional ,
Dec 21, 2016

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My point is that on those rare occasions when flattening a document changes its appearance, selection the top most layer and adding a copy merge layer before flattening, usually fixes it.  However, with a project like your with just the background and one adjustment layer, I suspect something else is going on.

There are other ways to harden up line work like yours.  Instead of using Levels, use the paint brush set to Overlay (in the options bar).  paint with black to firm up the line work, and white to remove the lighter greys.  I was not able to demonstrate properly with your screen shot because you'd already reduced it almost to a Threshold state, but applying a small Gaussian blur (value 1) I was able to give you at least and indication.  The original is masked in on the right of course.  This is the standard method of cleaning up alpha channels, and layer masks.

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Dec 21, 2016 1
Adobe Community Professional ,
Dec 21, 2016

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Try another format instead of PDF, perhaps tiff or psd as set in your scanner. I set my scanner to output tiff and open in Ps.

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Dec 21, 2016 0
New Here ,
Dec 21, 2016

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Hi gener7. I have tried scanning as a tiff but that only helped slightly. It still didn't retain the adjustment layer as is when merged.

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