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The best nondestructive way to edit your images in Elements is to use adjustment layers. By doing so you can edit or delete your adjustments at any time. You can also control which areas of the image are affected by the adjustment by painting in its companion layer mask. I'm currently in the Bridge application and I'm viewing our exercise files folders. What I would like to do is actually access our Chapter 09, Working with Layers folder. Double-click on that to open it up. Then I'm going to double-click on this layered file, Enzo_ beach_layers.psd. Double-click that to open it up in the Elements' Editing workspace.
One thing I should mention is if you're going to work with layers, when you're ready to save the file, if you want to preserve your layers, you must save it in either the Photoshop PSD format or Photoshop PDF format. You can also save in a layered TIFF format. If you choose to include layers in the TIFF. So those are the three formats that you can use if you want to preserve layers into your file. This one is a traditional Photoshop PSD, which is generally what you'll usually use if you're going to preserve layers in a saved file.
So what do we have inside of this file, we have a blue border, we have a white border, and we have the background image. Let's go ahead and take a look at the visibility here. I can turn off the blue border that reveals the white border and if I turn off the white border, now I can see I have the background image of my son Enzo playing with the sand on the beach. The next thing I want to focus on here is working with a different type of layer. That is called an adjustment layer. I'm going to go ahead and turn on the blue border. So we can see the blue border above our background. Now I would like to actually change the color of the blue border, but I don't actually want to do so inside of this layer. I would like to do so nondestructively using what's called an adjustment layer. So to do this, what I'm going to do first is hold down the Command key and then click inside of the icon here in the Layers palette for the blue border layer.
If I click on that icon, it makes a selection of the pixels that live in this layer. So now I have the selection of the border. What I want to do is select from the Adjustment Layer menu up here, click on that and we're going to choose Hue/Saturation. That's going to bring up the Hue/Saturation dialog box that's associated with this adjustment layer. Now notice that there is this big black thing next to the Hue/Saturation adjustment layer icon in the Layers palette. What this is called is a mask.
When I made that selection, it inverted it and it placed black in areas that weren't selected and left the areas that were selected white. So when you're dealing with a mask, black conceals and white reveals. So anything that's white inside of this mask is going to be affected by the adjustments that I make in this dialog box. Now keep in mind, if I hadn't made that selection and created this mask, all of the adjustments that I would make in this dialog box would not only affect the blue border, but the background too. Because if the adjustment layer doesn't have the anything in the mask, it's going to affect all of the layers underneath it.
So, that's why I created that selection in order to have this mask. That's the beauty of working with adjustment layers. You control what's being adjusted using the mask. So now what I want to do is change the color of the border from blue to something else. I'm going to do that by moving the Hue slider. I can maybe make it purple or I can drag it further out here. It's sort of a pink color. I can go the other direction along the color wheel. We can go with green, maybe a brighter green. That's actually kind of neat. Or we can go into a yellow. That works well too.
I think something in there is cool because I think it matches the green here in this beach blanket. I have changed the color here. I'm going to click OK. Now keep in mind, this is an adjustment layer. It only contains an adjustment. Because it has the mask it's only affecting the border color. I can turn this off just like any other layer. That's the beauty of that. I can turn it on and off. Something else I can do is double-click on this icon, go back into the settings, and make a change. I'm not stuck with what I originally chose. I can maybe make it a darker green. Click OK and then there we have it. We have made an adjustment.
So lots of flexibility here, lots of control and it's all done nondestructively. I can turn that off, I can turn that off and we still have our original image. No pixels have ever been harmed on this original image. It's still there in the background layer. That's the beauty of it. Something else you can do, you can reposition adjustment layers. If I wanted to, I can move this guy down here. That makes the border blue again. Why, because the adjustment is not above it. If I turn off the blue border, now we're seeing it's applying that adjustment to the image underneath.
Now that's not a very cool effect, but I just wanted you to understand that these are not locked in place. You can move these around just like any other layer. At the moment it's not locked, by clicking that icon there -- if I click it again, it unlocks it. You can move it. Let's go ahead and move it back. Put it up above the blue border, turn the blue border back on and that, of course, makes it a green border. So lots of control in here. I love that you can do that. What else can we do? Not only can you apply adjustments to things like borders and solid colors, but also to your imageries. So I just want show you that really quickly. Clicking on the background layer now I'm going to go up in here in the Adjustment Layer menu. I'm going to choose Levels. When we do that, that's going to bring up the Levels dialog box. This dialog box is associated with our new adjustment layer, which is above the background layer.
So that means, because it's only above the background layer, it's only going to affect the background layer, not the layers above it. If I wanted to I could like in the midtones, I can drag this to the left or I could bring it to the right to darken things up in the midtone areas. I could increase contrast by moving these in closer in the histogram. Doing any of the kind of adjustments I would normally do with levels. If you're not following me with levels here, that's okay. I'm going discuss levels in greater detail in another movie. For now just understand that we can make this adjustment nondestructively using an adjustment layer. It's affecting the image.
I'm going to reset the dialog box. I think what I actually want to do is click this Auto button. That's going to go into the individual channels red, green and blue, as you can see in here, and make an adjustment in each of those channels in order to better the tonality and the color in the image. Click Auto. That's the same as if I were to apply the Auto Levels feature in the Quick Fix mode. But only here we're doing it using layers, adjustment layers. Click OK. Now that we have applied that, we can see it also has a mask.
That's the beauty of these adjustment layers. If I wanted to control which areas of the background that are being affected by this levels adjustment I can do so by painting in this mask. Notice that my foreground color is black. I can paint with black in here. We know that black conceals, white reveals. If I choose the brush tool by clicking out it over here, I can go ahead, click on the mask to make sure that I'm painting on the mask in that adjustment layer. Just go ahead and paint right in here and hide that effect in the sky.
Maybe I like it in the sand. I like what it's doing to my son Enzo here, but I don't like the way it was affecting the sky. I can hide that adjustment. You can see it has that black streak now in our mask. So that's again the power of adjustment layers. We can control how this levels adjustment is affecting the image underneath. This is great that we can do that. You can also lower its opacity. We can control how much of this adjustment is being used. We can bring it down to say 50%. So now we're getting half of an adjustment. It's great that we can do this kind of stuff.
So what we learned here is that adjustment layers offer you lots of flexibility. You can always change your settings on the fly as long as you save them with the file. You can change their layer order. You can change their opacity. You can change their blending mode. You can turn their visibility on and off. All of this can be done without harming any of the pixels in your image. So that's the benefit of working with adjustment layers and their companion masks.
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