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How to Create a Portfolio Template in Photoshop and Profit from Layer Types


Your portfolio is your presentation card. It should always be current with your latest works, coherent with your style and accessible to your clients. Perhaps there’s one on your website, another one printed, and one for pitch presentations. All of them need to be up to date. So, how do you keep up with that? Create a portfolio template that is easy to update that you can scale to different formats.

Keep reading to learn how to create a portfolio template in Photoshop.

Create a Portfolio template examples

While Photoshop is a fantastic photo editing software, it does have some tools that are useful for graphics work too. This will relieve you of the task of having to learn another program like Illustrator. One of the best things for creating a portfolio template is profiting from the characteristics that each type of layer can offer. You can use Vector Layers for your design and logos, Text Layers for all the information, and Smart Objects for your images.

Let’s go through it step by step.

The fundamentals

First of all, what is a Layer?

When you open a new project, whether this is a blank canvas or a photograph, it opens as an image layer by default. This is the base that you build upon. You can then add as many layers as you need.

Imagine that the Layers are paper sheets that you can stack. Each one will then modify, add or block the content of the ones below. The properties of each layer depend on the type of layer it is.


Photoshop Layers in Perspective

Layers are one of the most versatile and useful tools in Photoshop.

There are many types of layers, some are stand-alone layers like images or vectors. Others work only in combination, as Adjustment Layers.

The important thing to understand is that each one has different characteristics that can be used to simplify your life. Here I’ll discuss the ones I find most useful to create a portfolio template.

The template

Designing your template

The first thing you’ll need is to draw the design of the template. Here, you can decide the elements and colors you want to use. Because this is a template, it should be able to fit most images and situations. So, you might want to keep it simple, but this is up to you.

In any case, every element that you design is best drawn with the Shape tool. Doing this creates a vector layer by default. To make sure of this, check that the menu in the options bar is set to Shape.

Create a Portfolio Template with Shapes

This is important because, unlike images, vectors are independent of resolution. This gives you the advantage of modifying the elements without losing quality, as you would do with pixels. This is why most graphic programs, like Illustrator, work with vectors. Shapes and vector layers are also great for creating your logo.

If your logo consists of many shapes, select all of them and turn them into a Smart Object by right-clicking on top and then choosing Convert to Smart Object from the menu.

This is a different type of layer, not only can you scale it as many times as you want – just like the vectors – but you also retain the source data so that you can work non-destructively.

Because of this, every time you open your Smart Object, you’ll still find all the original shape layers to work on them independently.

Create a portfolio template with smart objects

Another cool feature from smart objects is the possibility to link one or more copies.

This means that every time you modify your logo, it will automatically apply the changes to all the copies. This is useful if your design includes more than one logo. To do this, create a copy of the layer by dragging it to the Duplicate Layer button at the bottom of the panel.

Create a logo with smart objects

If you want to keep your copies working independently from each other, you can create a copy of the smart object that it’s not linked. Do this by using New Smart Object via Copy. You can find it in the menu that pops up when you right-click on the layer.

Create a portfolio template with logo

Adding text

This is as straightforward as it sounds. When you use the Text tool, it creates a Text Layer. Keep in mind that because it’s a different kind of layer, not all the tools are available for use. For example, you can’t use the filters.

If you want to use them, you will get a prompt asking you to “rasterize the layer.” This will turn it into an image (a pixel layer). You shouldn’t do this if you want to be able to edit the text in the future. If you do want to rasterize your layer, make a copy of it first and turn off the original by clicking on the “eye” next to the layer in the Layers panel.

Create a Portfolio Template Rasterize Layers

Another useful tip when designing your template is to confine the space for your text, so it doesn’t ruin your design if you change or add content later.

Instead of just clicking and typing, click and drag a rectangle text box where you want the text to be. That way, whatever you type adjusts to that space. I usually put one next to the image to add all the information like title, technique, and project. Then I can update it for every image.

Create a portfolio template

Adding images

The photos are the stars of your project, so you want to make sure to work non-destructively on them. The best choice for this is the Smart Object. 

To add your photo as a Smart Object layer, you have to go to Menu->File->Place. Because in my design, I added a rectangle to serve as a frame for my images, I can now add a Layer Mask to fit it inside without losing any information.

create a portfolio template for your photography

You can do this by placing the smart object directly on top of the rectangle shape designed at the beginning. Now create a Clipping Mask by pressing Cmd+Alt+g (Ctrl+Alt+g on PC). The Mask will reveal the image through the frame without cutting it or changing any of it.

Create a portfolio template

To update the images, you can open the Smart Object and place the new one there so that you don’t change the Layers or Masks of the template.

Save and close

Because you used Vectors, Texts, and Smart Objects, you can change the resolution from web to printing as many times as you want while keeping the quality of it. Just be sure to save each page of the portfolio separately, so you don’t overwrite your template.


I hope that you have found How to Create a Portfolio Template in Photoshop and Profit from Layer Types useful for creating your own portfolio templates.

Remember, save each template as a PSD file so that you can go back and utilize them again when you want to update your photos or text. Saving as a PSD file retains all of your layers so that you can access them and change them easily. If you save it as a JPG or another lossy format that flattens the layers, you will no longer have the ability to edit them.

If you have any other tips for creating a portfolio template, please share them with us in the comments below.


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Ana Mireles
Ana Mireles

is a photographer and artistic researcher. She has been awarded and exhibited in Mexico, Italy, and the Netherlands. Through theory and practice, she explores the cultural aspect of photography, how it helps us relate to each other, the world, and ourselves. She has also a passion for teaching, communication, and social media. You can find more about her and her work at her website or acquire some of her works here.

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