Photoshop: Unlinked Layer Masks should move when Group is moved

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When a Group is moved, Lay Masks that are unlinked, are not moved along. This is not logical, because, even when they are unlinked, they are still member of the group and should move along.
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Jaydude

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Posted 5 years ago

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Chris Cox

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Moved where?
If you move the layer contents, unlinked masks should not move at all.
If you mean changing layer order - unlinked masks should remain with their owner.

Also, which version of Photoshop are you using?
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PECourtejoie, Champion

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Chris, I'm able to replicate in CS6: Create a layer, paint on it, add a mask, scribble, unlink mask and layer, place layer in group, move group, the layer mask does not move.
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Andy Engelkemier

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Chris' response just seems backward.
So in the latest release someone realized a big mistake. Unlinked masks weren't moving to new artboards. But unlinked masks aren't supposed to Move are they?

An engineer might not thing so. But someone who is understanding groups as parent child relationships, as they work in Every other aspect of the programs, might think otherwise.

Unlinking a mask from a layer should allow you to move the contents of that layer, directly, without changing the position of the mask. However, if a layer is within a group, then the group is the parent of both the layer contents AND the mask.

So I've found Chris to not have the ability to see another person's point of view very well. That's fine, I'm often in the same boat. I can't actually think of one example where you would want the mask to not move with groups. But for the people who might like that, they can keep it. Just ADD a checkbox somewhere that changes the behavior. That way both groups of people can have their expected behavior. Or shoot, there are likely then people who want it one way for some projects, then need to switch it for others.

Currently, if you need to move an entire set of layers, some of which include unlinked masks and others that include masks that need to be linked, the only good way would be to go through each layer individually and either change color/write down which ones you are changing back to linked. Make your move, then go back to those layers and switch them back. OMG that could be terribly time consuming and allows for too much room for human error.

I can't tell you the number of times someone is nearly tearing their hair out because they can't figure out why something is disappearing. Then I look through their layers and find that they have a layer mask somewhere that accidentally got unlinked. They were moving a closed group. How the heck would they know that!?
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robinhuber

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I agree. I unlink and relink masks all the time, but I could never even imagine needing them to remain unlinked if I'm moving a whole group, or worse yet transforming. This should apply to multiple layers selected too, and not just groups. I work on files with hundreds of layers, and if one of them is accidentally unlinked, it's a nightmare when you try to transform or move. Especially if it's a small area that only shows up when printed huge, or when you've already done an hour's more editing. I've had these things happen many times, and it is a serious problem. The other alternative is to issue a warning when you try to move/transform: "Some of the layers being transformed include unlinked masks. Would you like to relink them during transformation?"
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PECourtejoie, Champion

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Andy, the behavior of the unlinked layer mask moving from a group to the other was corrected in a subsequent version. Do you mean it is the case with artboards in the latest version? Was it working correctly in the previous one (can't try right now)
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Andy Engelkemier

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I'm not sure what you are referring to, mask moving from a group to the other?
The recent update fixed a problem where unlinked masks would stay on your first artboard when you duplicate layers to another one, since they aren't linked, they shouldn't move, right? Bleh

What we are complaining about is Groups should be allowed to be treated as a parent to everything inside it. Unlinked a mask should unlinked the mask from moving if you move the contents of the layer. But Both the mask And the layer are children of the group, so moving the group should move both the layer contents AND the mask.

Instead, Adobe has decided that unlinking a mask unlinks it from EVERYTHING. It was so unlinked, that they forgot to make sure and allow it to move to new artboards.
For people, like myself, that often deal with photoshop files with over a hundred layers, trying to Find an unlinked layer mask can be quite time consuming.
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PECourtejoie, Champion

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Ok, just tried it on an older version (2015.1.2, I see that the unlinked mask follows, but is blank. is it what you get?) I see it as a bug, indeed.
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PECourtejoie, Champion

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Andy, my first sentence was about the original problem of this discussion: there was no artboards back at that time (3 years ago), and when one moved group with a layer with an unliked layer mask, the layer mask did not follow, and that has since been fixed. Now, I'm playing with artboards, I can move a group containing an unlinked layer mask, but not a layer with an unlinked layer mask. As I said, I'll try on the latest version later.


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Andy Engelkemier

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"and that has since been fixed."
I think you have may have been imagining that, they fixed it and then quickly broke it again, or you don't fully understand the issue.

https://1drv.ms/u/s!AvCgd1VKhDvmhqVGb...

Take that file. I quickly put it together (yes it's a few images of trump making funny faces because that's the kind of mood I'm in today and just needed a quick image search of something nonsensical).
It's a PSD with 3 layers. 2 are inside a group. One is outside. All 3 have layer masks. One, inside the group, has a layer mask that is unlinked.

Move the group. The layer mask on the layer "doesnt move" stays put. Everything else works as you would expect it.
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Jeffrey Tranberry, Sr. Product Manager, Digital Imaging

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Thanks for the file. It helps illustrate what your describing. That said, this behavior has existed since groups and masks have existed (just tested on CS1). There may be some gotcha's with changing a long standing behavior like this (changing this may break someone else's workflow, script, plug-in or action). I'll run it by our UX designer. There may be something we can do per Robin's suggestion to link masks, etc. 
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Andy Engelkemier

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Yes, I understand that changing something like that could break someone's script or some older things along the way. There are a few solutions that would work for both groups though. A warning, with an option to link those would be one. I would prefer a checkbox either in the layers menu, or the menu at the top of photoshop, the main one (not sure what it's called) that would allow you to move unlinked layers/masks as a group. Most of us would leave that on all the time. The few that have some script/plugin that it would interfere with would leave it off most of the time.

I really hope this makes it in to photoshop soon. I've been bitten by it a few times when moving a group just a few pixels, only later to find out that somewhere in there was one unlinked masks clicked on accident by someone.
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Jeffrey Tranberry, Sr. Product Manager, Digital Imaging

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Hey guys,

As a workaround, if you want a script to relink all your masks in your document, try this script: 

https://forums.adobe.com/message/4628764#4628764
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Jeffrey Anduza

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Thank you Jeffrey, that script is a big help!
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Andy Engelkemier

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It's not that I want to relink the masks. The masks shouldn't be linked to the layer. They are in a group. Since the group is parent to the mask, the mask should move with the layer. 

Every person, graphic design, industrial design, UX, video, digital painter, that I have talked to have all agreed, this seems like a mistake. It seems like when groups were created, it was thought of as a purely organizational tool. But as soon as you start allowing things like moving a group as a single object, and allowing a group to have it's own layer mode, you start training people to assume that everything within the group should act as children. So when the mask acts as it's own individual object within a group, yet nothing else does, it seems Very much like it's an oversight. 

It's seems similar to how you can't distort a linked illustrator file with free transform in photoshop. Your first thought might be that it's not possible since it's vector. But if you put that file in it's own photoshop file, then link That photoshop file, you can now free transform the heck out of that linked illustrator file. Technically, you're asking photoshop to do More work. It has to read the file, then read an extra file in order to do that. It seems an awful lot like someone just Forgot to program in how to treat linked vector artwork. It could have done that behind the scenes without me having to keep track of an extra file. 
You can Sort of shortcut that by just importing and immediately convert to smart object. That way you don't have to keep track of so many files. BUT it's not a live link. And the warning that the file has changed doesn't propagate to the parent file. Which Also seems like an oversight. 

These are things only advanced users will ever find. Photographers will Never find them. But it definitely applies to graphic designers, which is still a significant group. It definitely applies to animators and industrial designers. I know we are a minority, but we're among the most advanced tool users. Try not to forget about us when you're looking at tools for photographers.
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Jeffrey Anduza

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Well written Andy! I couldn't agree more. Add UI designers to your list of disciplines, who are affected by this.
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