Don't Use Adjustments: Use Adjustment Layers in Photoshop
We always have a couple of choices when we need to do an adjustment to like brightness contrast anything of that nature, the first option are all these things found under here personally, if it was up to me, those would not exist or it would be called very destructive adjustments you shouldn't use click here because each one of these you're directly adjusting your photograph in a permanent manner and because there is an alternative, my feeling is, why would you want to do that if there is a choice that lets you be more flexible and have more options? So for example, levels I uses that pops up this little dialogue box and I could say I would like to make an adjustment I'm going deliberately to make a point over a just in a bad way, so you would first like it actually not ever do this, but just to make a point, let's pretend I was staring into the sun for too long before I started doing this and say, oh, there we go that's much better the dangerous part of this dialogue box and here's a ...
little tip for you if you're ever in an adjustment and you see an ok button to me that's a gesture in the wrong place because when you're clicking okay, that's like you're saying ok, make this a permanent adjustment to this image do you really want to do that? Especially here? Probably not, but I can do it anyway. Click ok now in reality, of course I could just suddenly go whoops on undo what if I do ten more steps and then realize oops, I that was a little overboard now I'm kind of in trouble and just as a suggestion for you if you ever think once you've clicked okay the levels you can just go backto levels again have you ever see a history? Graham? It looks like this that's really tiny I always jokingly say imagine says, good luck right up there because if you see a history bam it's all spread out, that means you've already made such a major adjustment it's you're not going to get it back again, so to me, why would you even want to take that chance? Now, having said that, are there times where I just open a photograph, use levels and click ok? Yes, this many I'm holding my fingers really close together because most of the time in the back of my head of going, yeah, but just in case and here's, the reason I'll talk about the reasons in a second actually let me cancel this and get back out of it show you the difference in terms of the way I would do it instead, so it was up to me all of these would not be as obvious because when someone's for starting and photo shop, where would you look? I want to make an adjustment oh brightness and contrast let's use that no for small bites and contrast is not that great? Um now this has been a recurring joke of mine for many years, but I like to say this to make a point specially for brand new people because when you're looking through a list of adjustment, she names like levels, curves one of those means a lot of people go to brightness and contrast because it's the one name that actually makes sense I don't like this at all, but I will show you in case you decide to use this the most effective way to use this is click cancel button oh get it right out of there. I'm not sure why it's still there it's one of those things where every so often adobe tries to remove something because they figure people never use it and then there's a small crime bill don't take that out I use it all the time. So anyway the challenge is all these things are very obvious because they're right there, you can look at them and say, oh, I can see it right here but instead go to this little pop up menu are associating a second there's also little panel and it's the same commands but a very different way of using it so if I go to levels here a couple of very obvious things first of all the first time use levels it's slap this dialog box half covering up my photograph so I'm back to that idea of moving around to see my photo this way the adjustment always shows up in a panel and let you see the entire photograph the only price you pay is your levels dollars bucks is a little smaller I'm ok with that the other really important difference though and this is why this is a much better habit to get into is if I make that same really bad adjustment you'll notice I'll just click ok await there's no ok button that in itself is the difference right there you never commit to it by clicking okay it's like you just leave it that way so it's left almost like in preview mode so if I were to say this is a psd file and come back tomorrow it would look just like this it wouldn't have that bad little history grad with no information it would just show you this is how you left it do you want to change it and I'd say actually I probably will let's put this back here and this here and good to go and I still can't click ok so that's part of the point of adjustment layers is by nature they're non destructive and reusable, so that opens up some interesting possibilities for us because not only does it mean changed the ability to change your mind, it also means you can leverage this as a technique to help you do something. So for example, I want to try and change the color of her shirt, and I would do that using adjustment layer it say, I just want to make a very subtle change. It still needs to be orange, but just a slightly different shade of orange is they people add adjustment, which is good, they make a sudden little change in the color and then are trying to mask it and try and get it in there like I can't really see what I'm doing because they're making such a subtle shift in color. They can't really tell. Did I get the whole shirt or not? So remember earlier I mentioned the term checklist, the other turn that I'm pretty well known for its saying you need to think about ending up with so I want to end up with her shirt being a slightly different color, but to make my life easier, I'm gonna take advantage the way adjustment layers work by deliberately going way overboard like change it a fluorescent green temporarily. So I can see what I'm doing then put it back the way I want you can't do that with regular adjustment here is you have to click ok as you just saw within a justin layer you just leave it work come back so here's how I would do that to make my life simpler I goto unjustly accused saturation, for example, and live with the fact that initially it's gonna look really bad because I say let's make it like some crazy color like their ego fluorescent pinky kind of color, just crazy color okay, I temporarily collapsed the controls, but it doesn't mean I clicked, ok? It just means I'm not seeing it so that adjust malaria is still active, any adjustment layer has a layer mass and we'll talk more about later massive we go, but this is one the abilities where I can determine what part of this layer do I want to be affected by my adjustment. So eventually I wanted just to be her orange shirt, so I'm going to do a little trick here where I just temporarily hide this you hold down the sorry I meant it, right? We'll get to that later I want to invert it so you could rest commander control I and what that does is it means now I have an adjustment that's currently hidden as a black player mask hides the effects now if I left it that way, that would be completely pointless because why would you add adjustment and hide the whole thing? But remember I want to end up with her shirt being the right color. So now if I take my b for brush and do a quick little checklist, I want the opacity to be one hundred uh that's too big a brush will make a little smaller and I want white to be my foreign cars on that case. That was my little checklist to make sure that this is gonna work where I start painting, it looks like I'm painting with fluorescent pink because that what I'm really doing is revealing the effects of the adjustment layer. So depending on the situation that either paint like this or what might be easier in this case yes, he used a selection tool like the quick selection tool and then fill that with white now here's a good example is I look a little closer and say, oops, I missed a bit right there now if I had made a subtle little shift in color, I probably wouldn't notice is that because going from orange slight, darker orange is so hard to see the difference, but because it's currently and temporarily fluorescent pink it's very obvious to me that oh, I missed a bit over there I should get that part and then fill that with white is well I'm justin keyboard shortcut to fill with white and as I look around I said does that look okay? I miss anything we see how easy it is to tell because it's a completely crazy change in color I don't want to leave it that color but that's so much easier for me to make the change by going overboard so once I'm happy with the way it's math looks pretty good then I go back to that huge saturation just we're setting and aiken temporarily put everything kind of back to square one and now as I shifted I said I just want the color to be more like this and when I hide and show it see how subtle that is can even see it on the monitor that changing that's what I want to do but imagine if I was tryingto paint on a mask with a color shift like that I've seen people zoom in tow eight thousand percent in their faces this far from their modern going I can't tell why you working so hard you know not not necessary but part of the reason is they're trying to it in one shot with something under the adjustment menu soon as you eliminate thehe justin menus adjustment layers right away life a simpler because you have to worry about I'm gonna do it in one shot this is a recurring bad habit that I see in a lot of things in photo shop is because of the the change of how tools work over the years people forget that you don't have two things in one shot sometimes people trying to make a complicated selection and they take their last so too, and they're trying to it all in one big long line want to do it in ten pieces it's easier if you think, end up with whatever the result is that's one of those things phrases that I think should be floating around your head constantly and photo shop is not think I want to make ten boxes evenly spread apartment I end up with ten boxes or even spread apart, which sounds very similar, but the end up with phrase reminds me I can do it in multiple steps I'll show you that in a second, but this is an example now that I've got that I got that subtle shift that I want in color, but I also know now it's built in there so if later on the person doing this for says actually we need to change her shirt completely to another color like blue I know at least have that opportunity because it's still an adjustment that I can change and the mask is still going to look good because it's enough of a shift in color that I didn't miss anything so I use that for a lot of different things and photo shop where I'm worried about accuracy or how long it take me otherwise is I always use this approach overdo it to the point where it's really obviously overdone whatever you're doing and I'll show another example in a second do whatever working in for painting, mask, etcetera and then pull it back to the place you want and again, I wish there was a way that I could quantify for you over the years how much this approach has saved me in time. All I know is it's lots because I compare the way I used to do it where I used to be one of those zoom into six thousand percent face away from the monitor going and I can't really tell here and I realized one day why am I working so hard? Even when I'm getting paid by the hour? I don't want to take more time than necessary want to do it in less time and still charge that much because it's much better philosophy of saying because of my knowledge and voter self, I will charge you for ten hours worth of work, but I did it in six and I have no problem with that because I think you should get paid based not just on your time but also the knowledge you've invested in getting something done okay, so you'll find I think lots of situations where this approach works, I'm going to show you a couple of others how I would approach something, okay, so here's another example, this photograph was taken pretty late in the day and I would really like to adjusted so let's use levels I'm doing another session later on is tomorrow about level ls and curves and other ways of adjusting when you're first starting out, I think levels is a great way to start because it's got that built in history, graham and usually tells you right there if you see a gap like that, that suggests that you should probably move that in there that's going already look better so that's my first adjustment, but now what I like to do is add some people call it a vignette or burton edges where the outside edges are darker, trying to pull your attention. The middle, the way we used to do that in the good old days was one of my buddy says the days of yore when he's talking about, you know, photo shop five and please don't do it this way, okay? This is maturing of the old way that I would not suggest you do, but I want to do a comparison not to say this doesn't work because it does, but as you'll see at the end very little about it is editable or flexible that's the way we used to do it added a layer and fill it with black then take our marquee selection tool I pressed him for marquis and make a selection and then go to this command called feather this is a perfect example of on old habit that should be thrown away and never used again not really, but hardly ever because here's the problem with feather feather is a command is going to say I want to soften the edges, make it more you know, feathery and a rounded corner, but the challenge is what number should I put in? And the answer is nobody really knows it's a total guess and anyone who tells you they know is totally making that up because no one really knows what most people are not doing like in this case I would say eighty eight no, I really don't know it all I'm just guessing and that's the problem why you want to guess you click ok and all it does is it changes that just so you know, I still don't really know is going to look like, but hopefully that will work so that I hit delete to clear that park it actually doesn't look that bad, but the problem about it is nothing about that can be edited if I don't like it, I pretty much have to start again if I don't like how dark it is, if I don't like how much the feathering is, all those things were each one of those steps was kind of like done, done, done, and if I want to say that circle in the middle was the part that see through is too big or too small, too bad, nothing about that is flexible, so on alternative method would be to use an adjustment layer curbs you could use levels of all I want to show you that I already have levels to adjust the way the photograph looks. Now, I want to add that same then, yet effect, but in a way that's, muchmore, flexible, editable and reusable. So if you've never used curves before, this part's pretty easy because you take the top note here and drag it down to the point where it looks like it's filled with black or very dark. If you remember from a moment ago, whenever you add and justin layer always has a layer mask attached to it, and this is the one part of this that usually throws people often first, you have to kind of think through the way it works. I still make a marquee selection, but I can't press delete because I'm on the layer mask, so where you hide the effects of something is by filling with black so it's opposite sounds in this case to make the middle part not black I have to fill the mask with black but that used to have to think about the way a mask works is black hides the effects and the effect I want to hide is in the middle so if I fill that selection with black on the layer mask that's because working phil black so now you can see the effect where the middle part but I still don't have that nice soft edge what I used to do up until a few years ago was now apply a filter to blur the mask the problem was a filter like that you can't change your mind so some very clever person that there will be he went well why don't we put a feather on a slider now so instead of guessing eighty eight I can see the results live as I dragged the slider I can see the effects and best of all look no ok button so once again I'm not saying well I guess it's going to be eighty eight I can put it at eighty eight and just leave it that way but if laid iran I look at that and go there's something about that like look at all the things I can edit first of all I can turn off completely of course also I can adjust how dark it is if it's too dark I can lighten it or make it even darker and if I come here I can change the softness of the edge and or I could use free transform and make the effect bigger or smaller so right away everything about this is much more editable flexible and very importantly to me reusable so let me just show you real quickly if I had another photograph let's just real quickly do levels on this one as well okay now I want that same faculty rather than go through all those steps again it's a layer when you have a layer and photo shop you can drag it on to another document and reuse it no matter what the layer contents is whether it's text or a shape or in this case an adjustment layer I take my move tool and I drag and drop it onto this document I don't like to do is say well that should probably be this way and maybe this big and aiken we use it and just accordingly for this particular photograph instead of each time going well how did I do that? I did adjustment layer it's reusable so that's the other benefit of doing this adjustment layer method is it's not restricted to this current document if you like the effective at you khun drag it in another document and much like a preset that's just the starting point you could still adjust s size, intensity feathering all those things so you're never should never have that feeling like that's so close, but not quite it you can make it the way you want to spike, hinting to adjust it. So part of the the reason I want I'm showing you this is two fold one is just to say why adjustment there's also useful, but the other one is any time you're redoing the same steps or something you just did before again, you're working too hard. Why not just say it? It's right there? Why not dragon in this document and then contain to re edit it? Did you have a question when you adjust the level slider over to where the history graham eyes, why are you doing that? Well, because the history graham is basically a visual indication of the pixels of darkness to brightness, so ideally a history graham in either would be a nice bell curve that went right to the ends, so if there is a gap that tells me the brightness values of that of that image are quite correct by moving that slider, you're kind of reorganizing the history graham to say, redistribute across the board of the colors so curves it's a line that you just have to drag on, but there's really no reference point when first starting out at least levels destroying that history graham so often what would happen to people, especially the days of scanners, is the history and would be a nice shape that there be a gap in each end you just drag both ends in and right away. Now you're getting a better black, a better white can you save since we're talking about presets and all that, can you say that particular layer as a preset? You cannot in the term, in the terminology of a preset, but what I have done on whether people have as well is once you realize that's, a pretty cool effect, this is what you could do. You could take that whole thing and use this command is a duplicate layer and make put into a new document, and then all there is in that document is an adjustment layer so much like when we said save a logo into a separate file, you could actually create a layered document where each layer is a different type of adjustment. Is that the name it something so you know, this is where I have these vignette effects, so you open it and drag it into the next document. So that's, technically not a preset was not built in, but you could pre do it by having a layer document filled with these different effects.