Adobe Lightroom Classic is capable of storing the layers you create in Photoshop, you just need to be careful how you save and launch your images.
First, I will discuss the different options to edit your files when round tripping to Photoshop and the implications of these options. Then I will tell you my workflow for editing photos in Lightroom and Photoshop so you won’t lose any edits or layers.
To edit an image in Adobe Lightroom Classic, right click on the Image and select Edit In > Edit In Adobe Photoshop 2020.
If you are editing a RAW file, you will not get a choice of how your file will be processed in Photoshop. It will sent in the format you have selected in the External Editing Preferences.
If you are editing a TIFF, Photoshop, or JPEG image you will get the following dialog box to select how you want to edit the image in photoshop. You will need to select the correct option for what you are trying to do.
Edit a Copy with Lightroom Adjustments
This is the default when you are editing a RAW file. In this option, your Lightroom edits will be carried into Photoshop. However if you are editing a file with layers, you will lose the layers when the file is opened in Photoshop. A copy of the image will be created so you will still have your starting image.
Edit a Copy
In this option, you will retain the layers in your image but your Lightroom edits will not be carried into Photoshop but you will retain any Photoshop layers. Lightroom will try to reapply the edits to the image as it is being saved out of Photoshop. This may cause problems if you have conflicting edits between Lightroom and Photoshop.
A copy of the image will be created so you will still have your starting image.
In this option, you will retain the layers in your image but your Lightroom edits will not be carried into Photoshop but you will retain any Photoshop layers. Lightroom will try to reapply the edits to the image being saved out of Photoshop. This may cause problems if you have conflicting edits between Lightroom and Photoshop.
A copy of the image will NOT be created and your original image will be saved over.
It is important to note that Lightroom will remember the option that you selected the last time you edited a photo. So always make sure to verify the format you are choosing when round tripping to Photoshop.
As you can see, this can be a little tricky. Here is my suggested workflow to avoid losing your edits or layers.
If you prefer to apply any basic edits using lightroom prior to round tripping to photoshop, apply your edits on your RAW file before your first trip to photoshop.
If you want to retain your Photoshop layers for future editing, do a Save As in Photoshop. Change the format to Photoshop or TIFF (I use Photoshop), make sure the layers checkbox is selected, and check that it is writing the file to the correct folder.
This is something you may want to consider doing if you done a lot of Photoshop edits to an image or created a detailed layer mask and might want to come back and re-edit the image.
If you didn’t change the filename, it should automatically show up in your Lightroom folder. If not, you may need to do a Synchronize Folder.
Once I’m back in Lightroom, I like to rename the file to add something like “Layers” or “Mask” to the filename so I know that this is the file with layers that I may want to go back and re-edit.
When I round trip to Photoshop to edit this file, I chose “Edit a Copy”. When I save this file, it will automatically save the file to the Photoshop format and save the layers.
When I’m finished editing, I clean up any unwanted versions of the image that I won’t want to re-edit.
Written by Martin Belan