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Photoshop for Beginners: Essential Training

Lesson 25 of 49

Using Adjustment Layers

Mark Wallace

Photoshop for Beginners: Essential Training

Mark Wallace

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Lesson Info

25. Using Adjustment Layers
Mark explains how to use Adjustment Layers to edit non-destructively. Adjustment layers apply color and tonal adjustments to your image without permanently changing pixel values.


Class Trailer

Class Introduction


Introducing Photoshop


The Class Materials


How To Open Files


Using The Home Screen


Exploring The Interface


Getting Additional Help


Understanding Workspaces


Lesson Info

Using Adjustment Layers

now let's learn about adjustment layers. It allows you to make adjustments to your image non destructively. So let's hop back into Photoshop, we still have Karen on beans loaded up here from the last session. Now earlier I showed you that I could go in here to image adjustments and I could change something to black and white or do something like that and I said don't do that because it's destructive. Well how can we do these things? How can we change curves or any of these things non destructively? Well we can do that with adjustment layers And so instead of doing something once and it's permanent we can do something once and we can undo it or change it if we like. So we get to these things over here, we have this little half moon little circle with the I don't know half and half circle here that if we click it our our adjustment layers and so let's just play with one of these things. So earlier I changed Karen to black and white, I want to do that again. But this time I'm gonna use an...

adjustment layer so I can go up here and I see the black and white adjustment layer. If I click on that now I have the ability to go and change the color mix and make the contrast or whatever of Karen exactly like I want and it's all good. Now the difference here is I have an adjustment layer and I have a mask and I am affecting all of the layers below the adjustment layer. But what if I just want to make Karen black and white, but I want to leave the beans in color. Well normally you have to work with changing the layer order. So if I put the adjustment layer above the beans but below Karen the beans are black and white but Karen is in color. If I move that up then everything is in black and white. But I just want Karen to be black and white so I can do that by hitting option and clicking between these two layers and you'll see that my icon turns into a little arrow going down. So when I click on that it says make this adjustment layer just to the layer below me, that's what that's saying. And so now I have an adjustment layer that's just on Karen. Now here is the cool thing about an adjustment layer. It comes with a layer mask and all the properties of a layer. So I can click on the layer and I can change the opacity. So let's see what happens if I move this down to maybe 40% or 45%. It just d saturates Karen and it doesn't do make her totally black and white. It just makes her some black and white. I can go all the way up to 100% opacity. And so we have that ability to do that. I can click on the layer mask. Now watch this if I want her face to be in color but her body to be in black and white on the layer mask, I'm going to get black and I'm going to get a brush by hitting b I'm gonna increase my brush size by hitting the right bracket, that's the shortcut key. You can do that with the right bracket or the left bracket on the keyboard. And now what I'm going to do is I'm gonna paint on Karen's face. And what we're doing is we're painting out the adjustment brush or the adjustment layer. So we're just painting in her face. And what you can see is if we zoom in on the layer mask here, so I'm gonna zoom in really quickly after I get this done. Okay, so look over here, I'm gonna zoom this in really far. You can see that there's this little area right here on the mask, that's black, that's where I painted out that adjustment. And so the color from Karen is coming through that mask. The white is where everything is black and white, which is Karen's body. And then the white around Karen is knocked out from this layer mask. So we're using layers and layer masks to start creating different things. And so we have an adjustment layer that makes Karen black and white, but we've used a mask to remove that adjustment layer on Karen's face and then we have another layer that are the beans and we're seeing all of this stuff works just fine. Okay let's say we don't like this layer mask, we can just hide it and it goes away so maybe later we can bring it back, we can do different things. That's the nondestructive part of this thing. Let's do a different adjustment layer. So we're gonna go down here and then let's go into photo filter and then this photo filter, we can do something, this is similar to having a filter on the front of a camera. We can say hey we want to do a magenta filter, we can change that to be more or less. And so let's do a lot of color here. So we've got this magenta filter here, it's pretty good. So I will hide that and again this is affecting everything, all the beans, everything. So again I can go in here and click option and click this now, it's just affecting Karen. And just like before we can paint on the layer mask, we can say I don't want this adjustment to be on Karen, let's paint that out and we can do any number of filters and effects here. Um So we can use the effects that we learned about earlier and we can do that, we can use our different adjustment layers to change different things and we can do all of that stuff and we can do it non destructively. Okay so now that we have Karen on beans, we've learned about our adjustment layers. Let's do one more thing. Let's get into some filters and make Karen into martian. Karen on beans.

Class Description


  • Navigate and customize the Photoshop interface.
  • Edit images using non-destructive techniques.
  • Use layers and layer masks to create composite images.
  • Retouch portraits using advanced retouching techniques.
  • Develop scenic photos using tonal and color correction techniques.


The perfect workshop series for Adobe Photoshop beginners. This class assumes that you are new to Photoshop and want to learn how to retouch and adjust your images.

This workshop is a comprehensive overview ofAdobe Photoshop. By the end of this workshop you’ll have the skills you need to edit your images using Photoshop.

These sessions are jam packed with hands-on activities which allow you to learn by doing. Sample files are included with the workshop so you can follow along with hands-on exercises.

The sessions begin with a solid foundation and add new techniques and principles until you have mastered your post-production workflow.

By the end of this workshop you’ll have a clear understanding of the Adobe Photoshop interface, and the most commonly used tools. You’ll be able to edit scenic and portrait photos. You’ll have a solid understanding of color correction and skin retouching.

This workshop has everything you need to master Adobe Photoshop.


  • Photographers with little or no experience with Photoshop.
  • Photographers with limited or no experience with Lightroom or other post-production software.
  • Portrait photographers who want to know how to do basic skin retouching.
  • Scenic photographers who want to know how to do basic color and tonal corrections.
  • Photographers who want to know how to do basic compositing.


Adobe Photoshop 2021
Adobe Bridge 2021
Adobe Creative Cloud (all apps)


Mark Wallace is a photographer based in the United States. Best known for his web-based video series Digital Photography One on One and Exploring Photography sponsored by Adorama.

Millions of people have watched Mark’s videos on YouTube, and the numbers continue to grow. Mark has a strong social media following on Facebook and Twitter, where he spends time interacting with viewers and workshop attendees.

In 2014, Mark left the United States to embark on a 2-year worldwide adventure. He visited 28 countries and captured thousands of unique photographs across the globe.

In 2016 Mark decided to give up planes, trains, and automobiles and is now exploring the world on his motorcycle.

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Class Materials

Ratings and Reviews

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Mark did a great job at explaining things and going over them multiple times throughout the lessons. My only issue was that sometimes it went a little faster than I could keep up and I needed to rewind it a bit and start again. But from someone who has never worked in photoshop before I 100% recommend this class to anyone trying to learn.