When you hear Flatten an image in Photoshop it seems like a strange concept. It’s already a flat image on your screen, isn’t it?
But remember that when you’re working on images in Photoshop, you’re adding layers on top of each other as you work. So it becomes a stack of layers and not just a flat image as you see on the screen.
It’s super easy to do, but you do need to know why and how to flatten an image in Photoshop. Let me show you!
What does it mean to flatten an image in Photoshop?
It’s easier to understand what flattened images are if you understand what’s going on. Flattening an image compresses all the layers in the image, leaving a background layer.
This is useful in some circumstances. Firstly, if you’re sending the image to the printer, it’s best to flatten the file. This reduces the file size and makes the image print faster. Otherwise, the printer will have to treat each layer separately when printing.
Secondly, if you plan on posting images online, it’s best to post a flattened file. While people can still pirate your image (just like using a Mockup), without the image layers they can’t make minor changes to your work and resell it so easily except you are planning to create a Mockup file.
Of course, the obvious downside comes from flattened images. You also can’t access individual layers to make changes later. For this reason, I recommend that you save your PSD file with the layers intact before creating and saving a flattened version.
However, many file formats such as JPG or PNG do not support image layers. Images are automatically converted to flat files when you save them as one of these file formats.
That is it; let’s see how to flatten an image in Photoshop.
First method: Flatten an image in Photoshop command
There are a few different ways to flatten an image in Photoshop. Let’s use the Flatten Image command.
- Go to Layer in the menu bar.
- Scroll down and choose Flatten Image.
You get a warning: Delete hidden layers? Click YES
This means that all layers whose visibility is turned off will be completely discarded. Only visible layers affect the final image.
All layers will disappear and you will be left with a single background layer.
Second method: Merge layers
If you know anything about layer blending, you may be wondering how smoothing is different. First, the Flatten Image command automatically merges all layers into an image. When merging layers, you can select the layers you want to merge.
There is another important difference that is useful for file storage. Flatten an image Photoshop doesn’t preserve transparency, but layer blending does.
Merge layers in Photoshop
- Select all layers by clicking the first layer, holding down the Shift key, and clicking the last layer.
- Then right-click on the layers. Select Merge Layers from the menu that appears.
You can also select the Flatten Image command here. Both commands are available in both locations.
In this case, if you want to keep the transparency around the edge of the image, you can turn off the fill layer and merge layers.
That’s easy right. Now you can save your images without all the excess data and significantly reduce the file size.
Wanna learn more about what you can do in Photoshop? Check out our tutorial for merging layers here!