Adjustment Layers provide a flexible, non-destructive way of editing images

    Adjustment Layers provide a flexible, non-destructive way of editing images

    Have you ever redecorated a room, brought all the furniture back in and hung up all the pictures only to realise that the new colour just doesn’t work? If so, you’ve probably wished that there was an easy way of seeing how the room would look with the walls a variety of different shades before you start slapping the paint on. And maybe there could be a simpler way of making changes once you’ve got everything back in the room so you can assess the final effect straight away? Well, we can’t help you with the decorating, but we can help you avoid having similar problems when adjusting images. If you use Photoshop’s standard method to adjust the contrast and colour balance of an image, you can’t go back and undo the work easily at a later date. However, if you use an Adjustment Layer that holds all the information about the edit, you can make changes whenever you like provided that you save the file in a format such as Photoshop PSD or a TIFF, formats that support layers. Another great thing about using Adjustment Layers is that the Levels and Curves controls are just the same as they are normally, but if you prefer you can apply masks to target where the edits are applied. In fact, you can use all the usual layer controls, making Adjustment Layers an extremely powerful and flexible way of editing an image. Once you grasp the concept, you’ll see how useful they are. Read on to find out how…

    Control Issues

    The controls over the adjustments made with an Adjustment Layer are contained within the Properties Panel that appears when the layer is created. The central section will be familiar because it has the controls that are available when the adjustment is made normally. As you make an adjustment you’ll see the image change accordingly. Icons along the bottom of the panel enable you to reset the adjustments to the default positions, turn the layer’s visibility on and off
    and delete the layer.

    If you’d like to revisit the adjustments later on, simply click the layer’s thumbnail in the Layers Panel. To see the image without the adjustment applied, click the eye icon in the panel next to the thumbnail.

    Elements user?

    Adjustment Layers aren’t the sole preserve of Photoshop CS6. They are also available for editing images using Elements 11. However, there are only eight options: Levels, Brightness/Contrast, Hue/Saturation, Gradient Map, Photo Filter, Invert, Threshold and Posterize. They are created by clicking the relevant icon in the Layers Panel or by selecting Layer>New Adjustment Layer and selecting the relevant option. It’s now also possible to apply masks to Adjustment Layers in Elements, simply by clicking the mask icon in the Layers Panel.

    Adjustment Layer types

    01 Brightness/Contrast

    Sliding controls offer the easiest way to adjust the brightness and contrast of an image.

    02 Levels

    Set the white, black and mid-point brightness levels.

    03 Curves

    Manipulate the curve shape to adjust brightness and contrast.

    04 Exposure

    Use the Exposure control to adjust the highlights, the Offset to tweak the shadows and Gamma Correction to change mid-tone contrast.

    05 Vibrance

    This saturation control targets only under-saturated colours.

    06 Hue/Saturation

    Adjust Saturation and colour of the whole image or individual channels.

    07 Color Balance

    Achieve the right balance between opposing colours with the sliding controls.

    08 Black and White

    Set the brightness of each colour to define the tones in a converted monochrome image.

    09 Photo Filter

    Adjust the colour temperature of an image using washes of colour.

    10 Channel Mixer

    Adjust the blend of colours that make up the image by channel.

    11 Color Look-Up

    Apply preset colour and contrast adjustments to your images.

    12 Invert

    Quickly create a negative or colour reversed version of an image, similar to pressing Cmd/Ctrl+I.

    13 Posterize

    Use the sliding control to govern the number of brightness levels for each colour.

    14 Threshold

    Turn pixels black or white according to the threshold you set.

    15 Gradient Map

    Convert colour images to monochrome or add coloured gradient fills.

    16 Select Color

    Use this control to adjust the colour of specific colours in your image.

    This entry was posted on Saturday, December 22nd, 2012 at 11:00 am and is filed under Tutorials. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a comment. Pinging is currently not allowed.

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    | Tutorials | 22/12/2012 11:00am
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