Skip to main content

photo & video

Advanced Adjustment Tips & Tricks in Adobe Photoshop

Lesson 10 of 13

Clipping Indicators in Photoshop

Ben Willmore

Advanced Adjustment Tips & Tricks in Adobe Photoshop

Ben Willmore

buy this class


Sale Ends Soon!

starting under


Unlock this classplus 2000+ more >

Lesson Info

10. Clipping Indicators in Photoshop
See how you can create special layers that will indicate where your image has lost detail in the brightest or darkest areas of an image.

Lesson Info

Clipping Indicators in Photoshop

now let's take a look at how we can determine if we're losing detail in the highlights or shadows of our image when we're working in things like adobe camera raw or light room, we have that kind of feature built in. Also some of our adjustments will have hidden features that can show it, but I want to show you how to get it all the time or whenever you want. So here I am in light room, although I could just as easily be in adobe camera raw and up here is a history graham that tells me the brightness range that's in my picture. If that ever extends all the way across the full range and the ends are at all tall, then you'll find little triangles up here that you could hover over. If you hover over this one, you're gonna have blue on top of your image wherever you're lost detail and there's just no detail at all in that dark area. And if you go over here to the red one, you're going to find red overlaying your picture where you're losing detail in the highlights. You can even click these ...

to turn them on so they remain visible while you adjust your image, then you can adjust it to say, I don't want to lose detail in those bright areas so you can bring down particular settings or sometimes you want to purposefully uh lose detail in an area. Well I wish those things will be built into Photoshop itself. So let me take this image and I'm going to bring the exposure and the highlights down a bit. Just so I'm not losing detail and I might bring up my shadows a bit. I'm just trying to make it so we have detail. I'm going to actually open this image into Photoshop. Let's figure out how we can make those same warnings that give you blue where your shadows are losing detail and we have read where our highlights are. I'm going to start by doing an adjustment layer that is called a gradient map gradient map takes the various shades of gray that are in your picture and replaces them with colours. I mean to click on this down, pointing arrow and yours might look different when you first start because it might have a different presets selected, but I'm going to choose this choice right here. The third choice over which is black to white. Then I'm going to click on this bar that's gonna allow me to edit the gradient. I happen to start with the preset. Just so I'd have to colors in it. Now I'm going to choose which color should appear in the dark shadows. I'll click on this little rectangle and down here it asked for the color, I'll click there. I want to choose blue for my shadows. Then I'm going to click on this rectangle on the right and down here and I'm going to choose red for my highlights. I'll click OK, but now let's make it so that blue and red doesn't show up everywhere. I want blue to only show up. We've lost detail. We ended up with solid black and red only where we have solid white. So to do so I'm gonna go down to the letters FX and I'm gonna choose blending options. And down here, this means where should the underlying or normal image show up? I'm gonna grab this slider and move it way over here. I actually want to move it all the way over but I don't want it to get hidden on top of this. I'll move this one over first. I'm just trying to swap the position of those two sliders and so now it should show up the way I want it to we have a small area that's black, I can see it because it's got these blue overlays on it, but let's work on the image that's underneath now. And let's do something like levels well, in levels, this slider here would force areas to black. So as I pull it in we should see more and more blue showing up on our image in this slider would force areas to white. So as I bring it in, we should start seeing red show up on our image. So now if we end up doing things in Photoshop and we accidentally force areas to black or white, we would know it would happen if we had this layer at the top of our adjustments. Uh just on top of your layers stack and just turn it on and off as you need those warnings but then there's a different type of warning. You might be used to let's throw these away and if I go into something like levels, the other one you could do is when you pull in these sliders like this and like this, you could hold on the option key and if you hold down the option key, you would end up seeing an alternative view of your picture where only the areas that are solid white have not lost details and if you pull in the opposite side it would be the opposite. Only the areas that are solid black would not have lost detail. Not something I want to get into as far as when you want to use that and all that. But if you're used to using that and you wish you could have it in any adjustment we can. How do you do it? You do the following. First. Go over here and create a solid color layer. Set the color to white click OK? Take the layer mask. It's there and throw it away. Yeah, tell it to delete the mask. All we need to do is change the blending mode to a choice called color dodge. This is the same view that we had earlier in levels but I could use any adjustment on this underlying image and get it to update and change let's turn that off. Remember that was in color dodge. And let's create a similar one? I'll just duplicate this by typing command. J I'm going to double click on this little thumbnail here in my layers panel and I'm gonna change it to black. And then let's turn that on. And we just need to change the blending mode to the opposite of color dodge is color burn. Now we have the other indicator. So in this case we don't have any detailed lost in the highlights. So let's change the image that's underneath. Let's do any kind of adjustment layer you want and do something that would end up losing detail in the highlights. And you see we have that preview or if we are to turn off that layer and turn on the other one. Now we force areas to black. We have the other preview. And this is only for those people that are used to using that feature and wish they could have it elsewhere. Well now you have it as separate layers. You can turn on and off. You only can use one at a time though. Now I don't want to remember what I need to do to create those. So how can I save them and get back to them easily in the future? Well, go to the window menu and open your libraries panel and in your libraries you can create as many libraries as you want. Here's mine and you can see here, I have level style highlight and level style shadow right there. I can store them in a library. How do you storm in a library? Well, just make sure one of those layers is visible and active. And use your move tool, click within your image and drag over there and let go. It'll put it there. The only problem is if you ever dragged that off onto your image, it's not gonna work. Let me try it. I'll just drag it onto my picture. It'll give me a little warning here. But when I click on OK, it does weird stuff that I don't need it to and it doesn't work. That's because it creates a smart object. Let me show you how it can be done if you've saved anything into your libraries panel. That is an adjustment layer. I usually put in an image to remind me it says option or alt drag to apply and that means I need to hold down the option key at the moment I click on this and I drag it over here, then it will work. And that prevents it from creating a smart object. So I just put a little uh image in there to remind me that any of these that I've saved if I want to apply them, I need to hold down. The options are all key when dragging

Class Description


  • Precisely match the color of two objects
  • Change black objects to any color.
  • Add drama to dull overcast skies.
  • Apply multiple adjustments in a single adjustment layer.
  • Utilize uncommon settings such as Knockout.


Are you looking to up your adjustment skills so you can be more effective and efficient by utilizing a wider range of advanced features? Do you run into features in Photoshop that you do not utilize such as Knockout Deep, Knockout Shallow, Pass Through mode and wonder how you could utilize them? Then this class is for you.

Ben has been pushing Photoshop to its limits for over 30 years. Learn his best tips and tricks for getting the most out of Photoshop’s adjustments.

You’ll be able to tackle a much wider range of challenges once you expand the range of features you use on a daily basis. You’ll also reduce guesswork while increasing the precision of your adjustments.


  • People who are generally experienced using Photoshop, but want to push their skills to a more advanced level.
  • Those who want to tackle difficult tasks efficiently.
  • People who want to understand the more powerful and less commonly used features in Photoshop.


Adobe Photoshop 2021 (V22.5.0)


As a photographer, Ben Willmore has shot in all 50 states and explored over 80 countries. He has been pushing Photoshop and Lightroom Classic to their limits since the beginning. Ben is part of a select group of non-employees that Adobe trusts with pre-release beta versions of their software so he can have a voice in the future direction of their software. He has written more than a dozen books on digital imaging that have been translated into 9 languages, has written over 100 articles for major magazines, and was inducted into the Photoshop Hall of Fame. He has been a featured speaker at events on all seven continents where he has taught well over 100,000 people.

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

Related Classes


Alicia Orth

I've been using Photoshop for years and still learned lots of great tips from this class. Would love to see more classes like this.

Eric Johnson

Terrific - lots of great information. Way to go Ben!

Marco Basile

Really enjoyed how succinct and sharp the presentation was. Great information I hadn't seen elsewhere. Thank you Ben.