I’m a big (huge) advocate of working non-destructively in Photoshop. To me it just makes sense to build Photoshop documents that take advantage of all the non-destructive methods that are available. But in case you’re still not sure, here are my top reasons why you shouldn’t work in a non-destructive manner.
1. You never change your mind
If you always get things right the first time, and having a limited number of undos isn’t a problem – then you should be fine. Just remember than once you close the document, the History panel won’t help you anymore, so you’ll be back to square one with only one undo. Oh, and since Photoshop works in a linear fashion, you won’t be able to go back six steps and edit the filter you applied 20 minutes ago – or yesterday. Seems like you’re taking a big chance.
2. Your clients never change their mind
Cool! You have clients that love your work, right from your first submission? You lucky dog! Oddly enough, many people tell me that their clients are always coming back with requests to “just change this one thing”. Remember, that “one thing” that the client assumes will take you a few seconds to change could end up being an editing nightmare if you’re not prepared.
3. You prefer starting each project from scratch
If every single thing you do in Photoshop is unique: different document sizes, different layouts, different effects etc, then it makes sense to start from scratch each time. Otherwise you might want to take advantage of presets, templates and reuse those adjustment layers and masks.
4. You always remember how you created past projects
If you have eidetic memory, you may be able to look at artwork you created a year ago and know exactly how you did it. That would make you an exception, since most people tell me that they often create artwork by “playing” in Photoshop – and that they usually have no idea how they came to their end result. Personally I’d rather be able to look at my Layers panel and know exactly how I got to my end result – and be able to edit any parts of it.
5. You have a very small hard drive so you’re worried about “large” file sizes
Maybe it’s time for an upgrade? If your hard drive is small enough that you are constantly worried about the size of your files, then you probably don’t want to save multi-layered Photoshop files with Smart Objects and Smart Filters. On the other hand, as the price of storage continues to drop, I’d rather get myself more storage space and save “large” documents that give me every opportunity to edit and repurpose my work.
6. You always have lots of time to work on projects
One of the advantages of working non-destructively is that you can work more accurately and more quickly. So if you have plenty of time on your hands, keep working with flattened files, filters that can’t be edited and destructive adjustments.
The purpose of this article was to make the point that there are many advantages to working non-destructively: you can easily edit files, you can “reverse-engineer” files to remind you how they were made, you can repurpose previous work, and you can work more accurately and more efficiently. Watch more articles and video tutorials that demonstrate how to work non-destructively.