How Photoshop’s Folders and Groups Help You Create Infographics

By Justin Beegel, MBA, The Infographic World Team

Using layers in Photoshop allows you to create great depth and visual interest in your infographic projects. Photoshop allows you to work with different layers, applying features to them individually or in groups. Also, a layered structure allows you a high degree of control. For example, it’s pretty easy to fine-tune your design by altering color, shadows, and special techniques.

The Photoshop Layers palette can get difficult to navigate pretty quickly as your document gets more complex. In addition to naming your layers, try grouping your layers.

Give each major element of your infographic a name.

Give each major element of your infographic a name.

Grouping of layers is done with several layers that will reside in a separate folder within the layers palette. “The group” and “folder of layers” are synonymous.

The advantages to grouping layers are

  • Layers within a group or a folder can be moved together. They behave as a single object. Layer groups can be moved around the document canvas, and moved up or down in your layer order.

  • Groups can have effects applied to all layers within the group at once. For example, the transparency of a group can be changed from the Opacity field at the top of the Layers palette. The default blend mode for a group you create is Pass Through, which means that the individual modes for each layer will remain intact. Changing the folder’s blend mode will apply that change to all layers.

  • Your Layers palette and your document will be more organized. Putting layers within groups or nesting groups within other groups keeps the parts of your image in order.

To create a folder, click the Create New Group icon at the bottom of the Layers palette. This makes an empty folder into which you can drag individual layers.

A more efficient way, however, is to select the layers you want to group and then create a group.

A group can help the user more quickly locate things within the Layers palette. A group can also make it much easier to move several objects at once within the design. For example, a drawing of a person would have several distinct parts: a head, arms, legs, clothing, and so on.

If you want to move that person when you’re assembling your infographic, it’s much easier to select those body parts as a group rather than one by one. Also, using groups reduces clutter and allows for greater organization in the Layers panel.

  1. Hold Shift (keyboard) as you select layers.

    To select contiguous layers, click the top layer and then Shift-click the last or bottom-most layer you want to include. All the layers in between become selected as well. To select noncontiguous layers, press Cmd/Ctrl and select the desired layers.

    Groups work best with layers that are ordered immediately above and below one another.

  2. With the layers selected, click the Menu icon at the top right of the Layers palette.

  3. Choose New Group from Layers.

    A dialog box appears where you can name the new group, and all your layers will be inside.

To open the folder, click the triangle to the left of the group name. The folder will open, displaying all the layers inside. See this figure. Those layers can still be selected and manipulated individually. New layers can be dragged into that group at any point. Click the triangle again to collapse (close) the folder.

Use folders to keep work organized.

Use folders to keep work organized.

Folders can be renamed at any point by double-clicking the folder name to edit it.