I set aside a few hours each day to get lost in creative editing. A common problem I face is forgetting the steps it took to achieve the final look. Here’s how to solve this problem and become better at creative editing.

Label each layer with a descriptive name

If your image editing program includes layers as a feature, take advantage of this by labeling each layer with a descriptive name. This will enable you to see at a glance how each layer adds to the final look. Sometimes, I like to create different versions of an image. By putting the changes on different layers, I can have a layer just for enhancing eyes, create a black and white version or a soft vintage look. By labeling each layer, I can see at a glance which version I want to work with, allowing me to come back and make future changes without having to guess which layer the changes are on.

Save different versions of your edits

It’s easy to get lost down a rabbit hole when being creative. A simple trick to stay focused — and to create different looks or presets — is to save different versions of your edits. Work for a little while and, when you’re happy with your results, save the image with a descriptive name and add a version number.

Image editing programs such as Skylum’s Luminar and Aurora keep a history of the changes you made. Combining that with labeling each layer will help you remember how you created the edit.

Use a previous edit as a base to build a new look

A lot of times I’ll start with a built-in look or preset supplied by the editing software and make changes before I start adding more filters or settings. Building on a solid base enables me to either slightly or completely change the look. I can save this as a new preset look, plus it serves as a great creative starting point!

Invest an hour a day for the next seven days and see how creative and efficient you become. Those seven hours will increase your skills and will save you countless hours in the future when editing your images. Give it a try and share your results.