I’ve been working on a colourful image but when I export it to jpeg, the colours are almost gone. Sure, I understand saving in jpeg can lead to change in colour but.. this is the most massive loss of saturation I’ve seen. The same thing happens if I merge down as well.

This is what my layers look like

enter image description here

Am I missing something obvious?

The difference:

left is the file still in PS and right is my jpeg

The purple colour especially seems to not appear. I feel like I'm missing something obvious. Am i working in the wrong colour space?

How can I get the colours to pop in my export files?

  • 2
    If it fades just by flattening the image (still in Photoshop), then it has nothing to do with jpeg and with saving as such. But I'd struggle to explain such behaviour.
    – Zeus
    Nov 20, 2020 at 6:52
  • 4
    I’m voting to close this question as it would probably be a better fit for graphicdesign.stackexchange.com It actually has nothing to do with photography.
    – Tetsujin
    Nov 20, 2020 at 12:17
  • 4
    This can/does affect editing of photographs as well IME. So I gave an answer instead of voting to close. Nov 20, 2020 at 17:35
  • What JPEG settings are you using? What color space are you using? What viewer are you using?
    – xiota
    Nov 29, 2020 at 4:38

1 Answer 1


It is due to the way PS flattens an image; by default it (sometimes?) preserves the layer masks; and the underlying layer's mask will mask the layer above. If you attempt to merge/flatten only two layers PS will pop up a warning about this; and it gives you an option of applying the mask of the underlying layer before merging. You do not get the option when you export, flatten a group of layers, or flatten the entire layer stack.

The behavior also seems to be dependent on what is being flattened/merged e.g. adjustment/vector layers vs image layers (or if an image layer is included). I can't really say for certain exactly when it will/won't happen. In your case, it appears that the layer "1"s mask is masking some/all of the edits above it...

The way I have found to get around it is to create a new top layer and then merge visible into it (shift-opt-cmd-E). This copies the current view as a new image on top of all other layers; then turn off all other layers below before exporting/flattening (alt/option click on the top layer's view (eye) button). Your result should then be what you were expecting.

  • OP says this happens when "I export it to jpeg" and notes "The same thing happens if I merge down as well" – so the problem occurs when Photoshop is doing the flattening during export, all layers together at once. What you describe seems like a Photoshop bug, but OP's problem may be color space or export settings. Can't tell, since OP does not provide them.
    – xiota
    Nov 29, 2020 at 4:42

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