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Lightroom Classic & Photoshop Integration

Lesson 10 of 14

Unique Layers for Better Lightroom Integration

Ben Willmore

Lightroom Classic & Photoshop Integration

Ben Willmore

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Lesson Info

10. Unique Layers for Better Lightroom Integration
Visualize cropping that will ultimately be applied using Lightroom and ensure any incomplete retouching is obvious so you don’t accidentally deliver an unfinished image.

Lesson Info

Unique Layers for Better Lightroom Integration

Now let's take a look at how we can create some unique layers in Photoshop that are gonna help us when integrating with light room. When you work with any file here in light room, you got to be careful with what you do in the develop module. The main thing I'm careful with is cropping. If I know that I'm going to end up opening this image in Photoshop and I think I'm gonna use it cropped approximately like this. I don't usually do that cropping here in light room now I might, before adjusting the image just so it's easier to optimize because I'm viewing the whole image. But before I end up hoping to this image into Photoshop, I always undo the cropping. Let me show you why. If I go to the photo menu and choose edit in and tell it to open this in Photoshop, I only get the cropped version over here in Photoshop. And there's nothing I can do here in Photoshop to get back the areas that have been cropped out there simply not included in this file. And so therefore, if I worked on this imag...

e extensively, maybe I retouched out these little sensor dust specks that are in here, uh, and did extensive work. But then later on, a magazine came by and said, We'd like to use that image on our cover, but we need a vertical version. Well, that's when I really wish I would still have the information in the original full frame version of the file. So let me close this. Not going to save it. Let's head back to light room. And before I open any image, I head over to the develop module. I click on my crop tool, and I just hit the reset button. And therefore, when I opened the image, uh, it's going to give me the full image. Then I'll show you how I visualize that cropping when I'm over in Photoshop. Here's an image. You've already done it, too. So let's open that one. I'm just going to choose photo edit in the edit in Photoshop. This is a layered Photoshop file. I'm gonna tell it to edit the original, so I get the layers and let's take a look. This is not the cropping I'd like to use because I don't want this much of the road to be visible. I ended up with that much road simply because if I got closer and got a tighter framing, I would have tilted my camera up in these verticals on the building would have been tilted, and I wanted to avoid that. Well, instead of cropping in light room, I created a layer here in Photoshop that I'm calling the crop. And if I turn it on, this gives me an idea of where I'm thinking about cropping the picture. And the reason why I put that in here is so that I don't spend a huge amount of time improving any area that is outside that cropping rectangle like performing complex retouching. Because if it's not going to be used in the end image, then why spend the time? So this helps me visualize where I plan to crop the image later on in light room. So how do I make that layer? Well, let me turn it off so we can remake it in. What I'm going to do is in my tool panel. I'm going to come down here just above the hand tool and find the shape tool, and I'll use the rectangle and then I'm going to click and drag wherever I think I would like to crop the image. Let's say I want to crop it to right about there, but when I do that, it creates a black rectangle that's filled in in the middle. I want this middle portion to be a whole. So to accomplish that, I go to the options bar at the top of my screen, and I should have mentioned before I used that shape tool. I had it set over here to shape. I think that's the default. But just in case you happen to have one of these other two settings turned on, I use shape before I drew that shape click. There's an icon here. I'm gonna tell it to subtract. And by doing so, the rectangle that I drew will become a whole, and the opposite area will be filled. The color that's being used is chosen right up here, so if you don't have black, you could click there. You'll get a color picker and you could choose black. Then I go into my layers panel, and I still want to be able to see what's out here, just in case there's some element in there that I would be worth working on. So then I'll lower the opacity of that layer so I can see through it, you know, maybe bring it down to around 80%. Then if I click away from that now, that would be my crop layer, and I can turn it off and on as I please, and that's just there. I'll throw that one away and get my original one back. Um, that's just there so that I know not to spend too much attention in this outer area. But when I saved my images, oftentimes I have that turned off. And so then there's another layer that I like to have, and that's this layer that is full of red. That is for any areas that still need extensive work, mainly retouching. And so, if I turn off this particular layer, you'll see there are some cars here in the back that I would usually retouch out if that portion of the image would be visible in the end result. But with my cropping turned on, that part would not be visible, so I don't want to waste time retouching that area unless it would truly be visible. So I put on this layer that has read within it, and the only reason I have it there is so that if I ever m in light room and I go to the crop tool and I decide I'm going to crop this differently than I had planned, and it extends over to that area, there'll be something that's visually obvious to let me know that additional work would be needed over in Photoshop if I wanted to utilize that area. And oftentimes that can be telephone lines that are only over on the side of the image or all sorts of other things. But here I'm going to turn off my retouching layer so you can see how extensive the retouching was here. And imagine that I just didn't have time to retouch out something that would end up being outside of that cropping rectangle. Well, that's when I would end up having that layer with red in it. So how did I make that? Well, all I did was I went to the bottom of my layers panel. I clicked on the adjustment layer icon and I chose solid color. The color picker came up and I chose the most vivid red I could find. Click. OK. Then I clicked on the layer mask that comes along with that solid color layer. If you don't get a layer mask when you do that, go to the side menu and there's a choice in here called panel options. In here, there's a choice that says use default masks on fill layers. The default setting has that turned on. But if you're not getting them when you create a fill layer, uh, then somebody turned that off, and that's why, then I'm gonna click on that layer mask just once, and I want to make it black instead of white. Right now it's white, and if I choose image adjustments, invert that will give me the opposite and therefore it will be full of black black hides things. And so now I can grab my paintbrush tool, and usually I use a hard edge brush. And maybe it's that I think this tire shouldn't be here so I can paint with white over that and there's a little stick coming out of it. So maybe I'm painting like that and other things that would need to be retouched out. I'm just gonna cover up by painting with white. Remember, I'm working on the layer mask and white, and a layer mask makes the layer visible. Uh, so anyway, this is the kind of overlay I might do. Then I usually adjust the opacity on it, and I bring it down to about 50%. A trick with that is, if you go to the move tool, then the number keys on your keyboard will change the opacity of the layer you're working on. So if I type five, it would be out at 50 or some people might prefer it down at 20. Be a little less obvious, and that's what I'd leave visible all the time. I also used this when I send my image to other people that might perform retouching for me. My wife, for instance, does some of my retouching, and I would give her an image that looks just like this. Then she would do the retouching. I review it later on, and I removed the red stuff wherever she successfully retouched something out. So those are two layers that I commonly make when working between light room Photoshop. But then let's look a little bit at the structure of the document. Uh, usually I have the original image at the bottom of my layers panel. And if I don't see a lock symbol there already, I would click up here on this lock symbol and that prevents me from making changes to that layer. And therefore, anything I do to this image would be on a layer that is found above and that those, uh, are therefore things that can be undoable by just turning off the layers. Then I'll end up usually working on an empty layer to do my retouching. And here's by retouching. In this particular case, this image had more complex retouching, so it actually has multiple layers in here. But let me show you how that retouching would work. I'll turn off all these layers and act as if I'm starting from scratch. In fact, I'll delete all these if you like. So this is what it would look like after opening the image from light room Photoshop ID. Then click on the new layer icon and this would be for my retouching. Yeah, in order to get retouching tools to properly work on an empty layer. You need to go to each one of your retouching tools like here. I'm going to go to the healing brush, and the default setting would make it so it wouldn't work with an empty layer. You have to change the setting up here, called Sample. I change it to a choice called current and below, because when it's on its default setting of current layer, it can only copy from the contents of the current layer. It acts as if the layer below simply doesn't exist. And if that's the case, you're working with an empty document when it comes to just thinking about that one layer. But if it's set to current and below, it can not only look at the layer you're currently working on, but also the layer that's below that. And then there is an additional, uh, setting in there that is called all layers, and I don't use that one. Why? Because on top of my retouching layer is where I adjust my image with adjustment layers. And let's just say I did a black and white adjustment layer because I was going for a vintage look. Maybe I lower the opacity a little bit just to let the color show through just a hint. Well, then, if I was working on that layer below to do retouching and let's say I went to my clone stamp tool and I said it to current and below, and I decided to come over here and retouch out maybe the set of Windows I copied from the area. That's below my option clicking with my, uh, clone stamp tool. And I came up here and covered that up. Well, the problem is, since it's working with, uh, right now it's on current and below. Let me first show you current, and below that it works. If I turn off my black and white adjustment layer, that retouching that's over here still blends in nicely. But then let's do another one. This time I'm going to set it to the setting I don't use, which is all layers. And let's say what I needed to do is retouch out this little tower. So I copied from over here on the right option Click there, and I came over here to apply it. But we're copying from all layers, and that means it's paying attention to that black and white adjustment layer. And look, this doesn't blend in. You see, that's a little lighter. It's less colorful. That's because it copied from this black and white adjustment layer as if it had been applied. But the retouching was placed underneath it. So, in effect, this adjustment layer is being applied twice. And if I were to turn it off because I changed my mind, I no longer wanted to be black and white. That would not look appropriate. But if on the other hand, I had that there, and I used the choice of current and below, everything would be fine. I'll show you I copied from over here on the left. I come over here to apply it in, since it's looking only at current and below its ignoring all adjustment layers that would be found above it, and I can turn off this adjustment layer is still blends in, and so using the choice of current and below is what we want. You need to set each one of your retouching tools, though, so let's go to the healing brush tool. Make sure it's set to current and below, and then the third tool I would use is the spot healing brush. Unfortunately, it doesn't have a pop up menu. It only has sample all layers, but it still works fine because anything with the word healing attached tries to blend into the surroundings. And it will usually look fine because of that quality. It's getting the colors that is trying to match, uh, in a current in below fashion, even though this is set to all layers. Uh, so anyway, it works fine. So that's how I structure my documents, the bottom, most layers of the original picture. It's locked, so I can't accidentally make changes. Above that, I create a new empty layer for my retouching. I just need to make sure all my retouching tools are set properly for that. And then I stack adjustment layers above that. And by doing so, that allows me to go back and continue my retouching on this image without having to worry about the adjustment layers. And if I ever add any or turn off any it still works fine. Then I'll revert this image back to what we originally had, because I don't actually want to make the changes we talked about here and I'll just turn that crop layer on before I saved this. So I'll take Command s to save, and I'll close the file. Then let's head over to light room and in light room, I can see the cropping rectangle, and that allows me to go here in the develop module, grab my crop tool, and then pull this in and get it to match where the cropping was specified in Photoshop. And if anybody ever asked me to get a vertical version of the image, I come back to my crop tool, I re crop and I noticed this overlay. So I know I need to open that image in Photoshop and turn that layer off if I want to use this. But that will also cause me to inspect things like this layer over here that I can see that red information meaning that it still needs extra work. And up next, we're going to explore how to overlay Photoshop images onto other images within light room

Class Description


  • Optimize your settings and explore the multitude of options for round-tripping images between Lightroom and Photoshop.
  • Apply adjustments in Lightroom that are usually only available in Photoshop.
  • Make multiple passes of Lightroom adjustments on layered files while retaining the ability to edit all the layers.
  • Mask an image in Photoshop and then transfer the result to Lightroom in order to preview how it would look on top of images in your catalog.
  • Teach Lightroom to automatically create complex layouts in Photoshop.
  • Work on your Lightroom images in Photoshop even when the originals are not available.
  • Learn tips and tricks to increase productivity.


If you’ve ever sent an image from Adobe Lightroom to Adobe Photoshop and have been confused by the choices of “Edit a Copy with Lightroom Adjustments”, “Edit a Copy”, and “Edit Original”, then you’ll love this class from the start. After all, developing clarity on the fundamentals is essential before you can feel comfortable with Lightroom Classic.

If you dig a little deeper, you’ll learn that both Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Lightroom have unique strengths that become dramatically more versatile when they are used together. For instance, Photoshop’s advanced masking and layering capabilities are great when you want to replace a dull and boring sky. But, it’s only when you partner it with Lightroom’s ability to overlay a Photoshop image that you can experiment with various skies and interactively adjust the raw file until it looks like it belongs in the resulting image.

Once you have a solid feel for the strengths and limitations of each program, you’ll learn to push them and combine features to accomplish things you had no idea were even possible. This is Ben Willmore’s special gift: He gets you comfortable by relating the technical aspects to things you already know and use every day, which develops clarity. Then he guides you through real-world projects to help build your confidence before showing you just how far you can push the boundaries so you know what’s possible.

This class will help you:

  • Understand the preferences and choices that control how Photoshop and Lightroom Classic interact
  • Learn under which situation each option makes sense so you can always choose the best option for your images
  • Discover how uncommon features add a lot of functionality once you see concrete examples of their use
  • Eliminate the frustration of having Photoshop images not appear in your Lightroom catalog after editing
  • Understand how to round-trip your images while retaining Photoshop layers and multiple passes of Lightroom adjustments
  • See how Metadata conflicts can cause issues and how to resolve them


  • People who have Adobe Lightroom Classic and Adobe Photoshop (not elements) installed and have some familiarity with the absolute basics of both programs.
  • Those who desire clarity, confidence and efficiency based on proven logic.
  • Please who want to develop versatile workflows that go beyond the basics.


Adobe Lightroom Classic (v10.2)

Photoshop (v22.3)

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase


Lightroom Class Catalog and Images

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

Related Classes



Fantastic, clear explanations of these features. i have a much better understanding of how to go back and forth between LR and PS. Thank you Ben. this is must watch class for anyone that uses LR and PS