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Adjustment Layers Part 1

Lesson 24 from: Adobe Photoshop 101

Ben Willmore

Adjustment Layers Part 1

Lesson 24 from: Adobe Photoshop 101

Ben Willmore

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Lesson Info

24. Adjustment Layers Part 1


Class Trailer

Day 1


Adobe Bridge Basics


Sorting Images in Adobe Bridge


Processing Images in Adobe Camera Raw Part 1


Processing Images in Adobe Camera Raw Part 2


Image Processing Q&A


Contrast and Color


Adjustment Brush and Auto Mask


Lesson Info

Adjustment Layers Part 1

The main thing is if you have a selection, a selection always looks like what is affectionately known as marching ants an edge that is moving on your screen and any time that is active it means whatever you do is only going to be able to affect that part if it's painting a filter or an adjustment that you create from that point until the selection is no longer there. If you take that selection, you khun then store it somewhere the place you store it is the channels panel or you can attach it to something. And when you do it's known as a layer mask remember the layer mask is an icon at the bottom of your layers panel looks like a circle sitting inside of a rectangle. In fact, it looks a lot like the layer mass that's attached to this particular layer right now. Uh, later mask uh, so we're going to be working with selections and masks and we're goingto be mixing in adjustments with them because we haven't really done that much with adjustment layers in photo shop, there are two ways of a...

pplying an adjustment. The first is what you might call a direct adjustment a direct adjustment would be let's say I selected this area on this particular image in my layers panel if you look at what's active right now, you notice it's not the mask because the corners of the mask are not highlighted instead it's the image itself so that any change I make is going to happen there uh if I already go over here and do some sort of an adjustment let's just say brightness and contrast the selection that's there is going to limit what area can be changed so it's on ly the area that's inside those marching ants and I could come in here and brighton we're dark in that or I could make it more contrast e or less but it's the selection that is preventing it from affecting the entire picture if the selection wasn't there, it would affect all of whatever is active right now in my layers pal if I had ten layers in this document on ly that one would change because when you do what I call a direct adjustment and a direct adjustment is when you come up here and choose it from this menu it effects on ly one layer that's the layer that's currently active and when you're done it's permanent there's no thing that I could turn off to make it go away or anything like that if I save enclose my image open it six months later there is no evidence that I've made that adjustment other than what the end result looked like but there's no thing that says you applied brightness and contrast and you can turn it off here you can't do that part instead I can create an adjustment layer an adjustment layer is something where the adjustment becomes a separate piece of this document it will become a layer think of it is if you have an image underneath you, you're standing up, you're looking down on the floor there's a picture in between you and that picture is something that is changing your view of the picture there's, a pair of sunglasses sitting there floating in the air between you and the image it's darkening the picture that's the willinto, an adjustment layer it's something that is changing your view as you look through it so let's do an adjustment layer so I've selected this area because that's the part I want to change now instead of coming up here toe apply an adjustment, those will be direct adjustments and I try to avoid them if at all possible because there are things that are more, this is more permanent. Instead of doing that, I go to the bottom of my layers panel and at the bottom of my layers panel is a half black and half white circle if I click on it, it also has a list of adjustments they are some of the same adjustments that you find under the image adjustments menu, the menu I showed you a moment ago, not all of them, but there's a good number of them sitting right here these are the ones that are available as an adjustment layer and there you'll find the choice on in this case of brightness and contrast I'm gonna choose it now watch what happens in the layers panel when I do that first remember I had a selection active do you see that the selection if you look at the picture itself seemed to have gone away because I don't see little marching ants around that object anymore within the picture a minute ago we had marching and surround this object there don't wander there that's because that selection got converted into this thing I can see the shape of where the marching ants used to be right there they got converted into that that's a layer mask howto layer mass work remember black hides things white makes them show up in this case what's in this layer is an adjustment called brightness and contrast in the white that's in here means it can only apply to that part of my picture. It can't apply to everything else that's what the mask is doing so when I end up making my change, if you look at the picture, we're still on ly affecting that one area but it's the mask that's doing the limiting instead of the selection selection got converted into the mask it's now attached to that adjustment and so now it's a ziff we're standing at the top of the layers panel we're looking down in before our eyes can pick up what's in the bottom layer, which is the picture itself. It has to look through this adjustment to see it and it's a changing our view of it like a pair of sunglasses might be sitting there darkening our image now we could have a cz many of those adjustment layers as we like, and if I don't have a selection ahead of time, then this is what we get. I'll do another brightness and contrast, and I'm going to darken the image. He noticed that the entire images darkening because there's nothing limiting where it hap plus, if you look at the mask there's automatically a mask attached to adjustment layers, it comes automatically right there, and when I'm done making the adjustment, the mask is sitting there, and if you look at the mask it's active, you see the corners are highlighted, that means if I paint that's where the paint goes, so now I could grab my paintbrush tool and if I paint with black, what I'm going to do is I'm going to be hiding the adjustment because what am I working on a mask that's attached to that adjustment so I paint right now the image will become brighter where I paint what it's doing is it's going back to what it used to look like in the areas where I paint and I could come in here and just kind of paint around and get rid of it wherever it is. I didn't want it, and if I zoom up here so you can either make a selection before you create your adjustment layer or afterwards, if you need to limit where it's going to apply, just grab your paintbrush tool and start painting. You won't always see a dramatic change in your image when you paint all your scene is you're removing whatever adjustment is in that layer. If the adjustment that's in that layer is overly subtle, where is doing something that is very barely perceivable? Then when I paint like this, it will be really hard to tell where I've painted, because whatever is in that adjustment layer isn't doing much to my picture, so when I painted, it disappears and no longer applies to my picture it's really hard to tell where I've done that where I haven't it was just a very subtle change in this case, it's a relatively obvious change because I'm darkening and it's easy to tell if it was a subtle change, but if you remember or not, but earlier today I had a mask attached to something, and there was a way where I could view that mask in a different way. I could view it as a red overlay on top of my picture hit the letter x here to switch what color in painting with, but I could view it as an overlay in the key that I pressed on my keyboard to do that was to hit the back slash key. And so I could do that right now. Any time you have a layer that has a mask, attaches it. If you hit backslash, you get a road overlay. It looks like quick mask mode. Quick mask mode just means something over laid on your picture as a red overlay to some people. But in quick mask mode, it's just not attached to a layer. In this case, it's attached to a layer it's. The same technology is quick mask mode, but it's not called that it's just overlaying the mask on your picture. So to get this view, when you're working with a layer mask, you press backslash to get this view. Instead. When you're working with a selection where it looks like marching ants, you type queue for quick mask so quick mask in this are the same concept. Issues in one case you have a selection in the other case you have a layer mask to slightly different things that you're working on, but we can get a view that looks the same I'm pressing the letter x to exchange more foreground and background colors whatever I'm switching what I'm painting with paying with white versus black to try toe kind of isolate this so if you see me just magically somehow removing the red versus adding I'm hitting x to switch back and forth between black and white so then when I think I'm done and I've isolated that nicely, I compress the backslash key again to turn off the red overlay and if you want to see what I'm doing, I will turn off the eyeball for that layer now when I turn off the eyeball it's going toe no longer apply that adjustment so you'll see what it looks like without the adjustment turn it back on, you'll see what it looks like with it and I could do the same thing for the one it's underneath. So what do we learn there? Well, if you have a selection active at the time that you create a new adjustment layer, the selection gets converted into the mask where the only part of the image of the changes is the part that was selected and that's what I did a minute ago do it again right now let's say I came in here and I made a selection in this case I'll use the elliptical marquis tool and I'll select a little eye that's here close enough and then I'm going to create an adjustment layer so I go to the bottom of my layers panel click on the half black and half white circle in again I'll choose brightness and contrast that selection the moment I let go to create this adjustment will go away and is being transformed into the mask that's attached to the layer can you see a little white speck right there that's where it is converted into that so too attached to this layer and now may brighten up that I had a little contrast to it then I want to add to that mass so I grabbed my paintbrush tool and black is going to prevent whatever's in this layer from affecting the image but white will make it show up so I'll paint with white and I'll come in here and I'm gonna paint on this other little circle over here to say apply to this too I'll get a smaller brush oh paint there then we got some other ones up here on the tail do that as well many areas I want I can have applied to that so now if I hit backslash key again I could see a red overlay to say where is that adjustment applying it's where we don't see red that's where the adjustment is applying so these air adjustment layers in whenever you add a new one I always put it on top because the order is important the top one will be it will look at what's underneath to see what is it adjusting? And so if I had another one on top it's looking at the result of what we already have that's what it's adjusting if I would've put one way down below it looks down and sees the original picture and that's what it applies to in that modifies what the adjustments above it our scene or applying to and it can sometimes create unpredictable results if you don't really think through it and most of time it's too hard to think through how would that affect all this stuff that's above it so you create new adjustments on top and if you do that it always works in a logical and uh straightforward way and you can have as many adjustment layers as you'd like you can have fifty five hundred of whatever you want just stack him up but new ones on top and then if you ever want to see what's happening to your image how they're affecting your image you can turn off the eyeballs and each one on and off you can see what that one's doing you get on to the next one, turn off its eyeball see what it's doing the next one on and off and so on that's actually the pictures that's why it disappeared and there's a trick if you want to see the before in the after when it comes to adjustment layers usually the bottom most layer will be original picture and there's a way to turn off all of the eyeball icons and your layers panel except for one what you do is you put your mouths on top of one eyeball you wantto stay on you want to keep that one on you hold on the option qi which is all time windows and you click on it, and by doing so it says turn off everything but this and therefore I'll see the original picture. When you're done with that you option, click on it a second time and it turns back on those eyeballs that were on previous eisley, and it will remember which one's wrong or off previously, so it brings you back to the same state you had beforehand and therefore it's a nice kind of before and after when it comes to your adjustments. If the bottom most layer is the original picture and you've built up a stack of adjustments above that, then remember, with each adjustment you can click on it, hit the back slash key whatever's covered in red is where you're not affecting the image then you go to the next one backslash key and see exactly where they're applying, so if you open an image that is six months old and you forget what's really in that you see these little masks you can click on each one of them hit backslash to see what part of the image does it effect and if no red shows up on top your image it means your mask is completely full of white and that means that that adjustment affects everything the whole image is affected by, uh, so you could build this up do whatever kind of affect you like, and so I use adjustment layers all the time to refine my images and it's what I would prefer to do instead of going to this menu to apply my adjustments because this menu applies thie adjustment directly to whatever layer is currently active in dozen it away that's permanent? Where if I save enclosed my image it's not a separate piece of the image the adjustment isn't it's just the end result of what the adjustment did in a way that I can no longer undo. I can no longer change if I save and close that image, so I try to stay away from this menu right here and I tried to as much as I can instead go to the menu at the bottom of my layers panel and choose from here because those are ones I can throw away later on if I decide it wasn't a good adjustment I could modify the mask later I can even change the adjustments if you go to any one of these adjustment layers and you see the icon of the left that icon will be different depending on what kind of a job when you apply so if you apply an adjustment called levels this will look more like a bar chart like the history ram if you ply one called curves it'll look like a curve and so on this happens to mean brightness and contrast and if you ever open an old document you see that icon over there something like it if you'd double click on that icon it will open up the little panel where the adjustment wass and you could modify it it's never permanent go to the next one and it just changes us to whatever that adjustment wass this little panel it's called properties simply shows you the settings for whatever adjustment layer is currently active it's only if this is hidden that you have to double click on that icon just to get to pop up uh so I close it like that that would get it so just build up your adjustments do all sorts of things with him it could be really nice um and so we'll do that throughout time for now I'm just going to save this image and I'll close it now on another thing, I wanted to mention that I didn't get a chance to when this was open, so I just didn't think of it. It was during the breaks and people asked with an image like this simple it wass is, couldn't I use a simple tool to select that, like there's, a tool called the quick selection tool there's, another tool called the magic wand tool and all that in you could try to use tools like that to select something simple, but if the edges, if it have soft edges like I've blurred the right side of this, those tools would suddenly fail you, or if the edge of this was overly complex, like if I apply a filter to it, that is called ripple, and I get the edges where if you zoomed up real close there's the overly complex specially where there's like little openings in the middle like those tiny ones, and they're in stuff using normal selection tools not goingto usually give you necessarily a great result without it. So I happen to have something was simple here when I started this off in in that case, magic wands and quick selection tools and things might have given you somewhat of an acceptable selection, but they wouldn't in this case, especially where have soft edges and stuff around this side where is the technique that I showed you where we copy this? We pasted into quick mask mode in things would give you a perfect selection of it each time. So I just want to mention that in case that went through your head, when I was working on this, have really ugly fied it from whip my wife made.

Class Materials

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Course Guide

Ratings and Reviews

a Creativelive Student

Ben, thanks again for this course. I have taken and purchased quite a few of your courses to date. I keep thinking I will only watch to make sure I am on the right track and you always bring more to the table than the last course. Your teaching methods are the best, sorry to all the other instructors from Creative Live, but you are very easy to understand and you speak in layman's terms so we all can understand. I am following your instructions and working along with your files and it is the best! It is hard to keep up with you even when I watch you on one computer and work with the same files on another computer, to do what you are doing...impossible but I gain so much by trying. You provide so much info on each topic, it is amazing. Thanks to Karen for the PDFs, she does a fantastic job and also, for her templates/layout documents. Thanks again and to anyone who thinks this is too much money for all the videos, the exercise files and the instruction PDF, I am sorry to say but you are mistaken.

John Taylor

Like all of the Creative Live courses, excellent training. Ben does a great job of explaining the entry part of Photoshop. A lot of things cleared up in my head and i like his easy pace into this complex program. Thanks Ben.


I had several "lightbulb" moments with this class, after many years of photography and when you think you know it all, you don't :) Ben Willmore is an excellent tutor, with his many years of experience teaching PS, he obviously knows the types of things a lot of us struggle to understand. I learnt a lot about Bridge, and have since implemented these things into my everyday workflow, so much easier to sort out what I want to keep etc.. Thanks so much Ben and Creative Live. Thanks also to Ben's wife for her amazing work creating the Guide etc. Even though being in Australia, I pay more for the courses (the conversion rate, the aussie dollar is low at the moment) it's very worth it to me. I have paid more for courses here, and learnt next to nothing. Thanks again.

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