Easy-to-follow video tutorials help you learn software, creative, and business skills.Become a member

Using adjustment layers

From: Photoshop Elements 9 Essential Training

Video: Using adjustment layers

The best way to correct the lighting or the color of a photo is to do that with an adjustment layer rather than a direct adjustment, and the reason is that an adjustment layer does not directly change a photo, and an adjustment layer can be edited at any time. So, I strongly recommend adjustment layers over the kind of direct adjustment that you can apply from the Enhance menu down here in the Adjust Lighting or the Adjust Color menus. Some of the corrections that you'll find in these menus alternatively can be applied as adjustment layers.

Using adjustment layers

The best way to correct the lighting or the color of a photo is to do that with an adjustment layer rather than a direct adjustment, and the reason is that an adjustment layer does not directly change a photo, and an adjustment layer can be edited at any time. So, I strongly recommend adjustment layers over the kind of direct adjustment that you can apply from the Enhance menu down here in the Adjust Lighting or the Adjust Color menus. Some of the corrections that you'll find in these menus alternatively can be applied as adjustment layers.

Those include a Brightness/Contrast adjustment, a Levels adjustment, and the Hue/Saturation adjustment. In this case, I'm going to apply a Brightness/Contrast adjustment. So, I'm going to exit out of these menus, and instead, I'm going to come over to the panels on the right. I know that I need more room to work here so I'm going to close the Effects and Content panel group by clicking the panel menu on that group and choosing Close Tab Group, and that gives me more room for my layers panel. I have three layers in this file.

The left layer contains that dark photograph on the left, the right layer has the adjusted photograph on the right, and then there's a background layer. So, it's the photo on the left layer that I want to adjust. I'll make sure that I have the left layer selected, so that the adjustment layer that I'm about to create will come into the layer stack above this layer. Then to apply an adjustment layer, I'll go to the bottom of the layers panel and I'll click on the black and white circle icon. That brings up a menu of fill layers in this section, and adjustment layers in the next three sections.

I'm going to choose the Brightness/Contrast adjustment layer; that did several things. Up in the layers panel, it added this Brightness/Contrast adjustment layer above the layer that I had selected. An adjustment layer has two icons on it. It has the Adjustment icon on the left and then it has a layer Mask icon on the right, which I'll explain in the next movie. When I added this adjustment layer, a new panel opened, the Adjustments panel. Here, I can find the controls for whatever kind of adjustment layer I've applied; in this case, the Brightness/Contrast adjustment layer.

I'd like to increase Brightness, so I'll click on the Brightness slider in the Adjustments panel and I'm going to drag it over to the right. You can see in the Document Window that this adjustment has affected all of the layers in the image. It's brightened not only the photo on the left, but also the photo on the right and the background. That's because by default, an adjustment layer will affect all of the layers beneath it. Sometimes that's just what I want, but in this case, I want to limit this Brightness/Contrast adjustment to adjust the photo on the left layer.

Here's how I can do that. I'll make sure I have my Brightness/Contrast adjustment layer selected in the layers panel and then I'll go down to the bottom of the Adjustments panel and I'm going to click on the first icon at the bottom of the Adjustments panel. This is the clipping icon. When I click there, the Brightness/ Contrast adjustment layer has been clipped to the layer just below it, the left layer, and there are a couple of signals here that let me know that. First of all, I can see that in the image, because now the only part of the image that I've lightened is the photo on the left.

And in the layers panel, there is a curved arrow on the adjustment layer meaning that I have clipped the adjustment layer to another layer and the layer name on the left layer now has an underline, meaning that it's the layer to which the adjustment layer has been clipped. One of the advantages of using an adjustment layer is that I can come back to an adjustment layer at any time and make changes to it. That's true even if I save the image and close it and then reopen it, as long as I've saved in a format that retains layers, like the Photoshop document format .PSD or the TIF format.

But remember that a JPEG flattens all the layers. So if I save in JPEG format, I won't be able to come back in and tweak an adjustment layer. But now, I can make a change to this adjustment layer. So, let's pretend that I've gone ahead and done something else to the image, maybe I've selected the right layer and then gotten the Burn tool from the toolbar, and I've come in and made a change over here in the photo on the right. And then I take a look at the photo on the left and I decide that it needs more of an adjustment to brightness and to contrast.

I can come back and click on the Brightness/Contrast adjustment layer in the layers panel and that brings back the controls for this specific adjustment layer, and then I could tweak the Brightness slider and the Contrast slider as well. I'm going to increase the Contrast in order to give some more punch to that photo on the left. This also gives me the opportunity to show you some more icons down at the bottom of the Adjustments panel. We already took a look at the first one, the clipping icon. The next icon there is a visibility icon.

With the Brightness/Contrast adjustment layer selected in the layers panel, if I click this visibility icon at the bottom of the Adjustments panel, the adjustment layer becomes invisible, and you can see that it no longer has an eye icon to the left of it. And the effect of the Brightness/ Contrast adjustment layer is now invisible in the image, so the photo on the left is dark again. If I click that visibility icon at the bottom of the Adjustments panel again, I'll see the effects of my adjustment layer and there is an eye icon to the left of the adjustment layer in the layers panel again.

So, by toggling this visibility icon on and off, I can get a before and an after view to compare how the image looks with the adjustment. The next icon at the bottom of the Adjustments panel is a preview icon. If I click-and-hold that icon, I can see how the image looked before I made this last set of adjustments, where I came in and tweaked the Brightness and added a Contrast adjustment. So, this is how the image looked with my first Brightness adjustment, and if I release my mouse, I see how it looks with my latest Brightness and Contrast adjustments.

The next icon doesn't just preview; it actually resets the sliders in the Adjustments panel. Right now, it's showing just half of a red arrow. When it's set like that, if I click once on this reset icon, that resets the last thing that I did, and you may remember that that was to increase the Contrast slider. Well, that's now been reset back to its default of 0. But the rest of the adjustments that I made haven't been affected. And now the Reset icon has changed to show a full-curved symbol.

So, if I click it now, I go all the way back to the beginning before I had made any Brightness or Contrast adjustments. If I want to bring back my latest Brightness and Contrast adjustments, I'll have to go up to the Application bar and click the Undo button there, and that undoes that reset. And finally, there is a Trash icon at the bottom of the Adjustments panel. If I click this, it will totally delete my adjustment layer, something I don't want to do right now. Another way to delete the adjustment layer would be to select it in the layers panel and click the Trash icon at the bottom of the layers panel.

But I want to leave that adjustment layer here for now, because I want to show you a couple more things about it. Another advantage of using an adjustment layer is that it acts like other kinds of layers. So, I can reduce the Opacity of the adjustment layer, which will reduce its effect or its strength by going to the layer Opacity field here and dragging to the left, or dragging back to the right to put its Opacity back to 100. I also can change the Blend mode of an adjustment layer just like I can change the Blend mode of any layer.

So, I might click here and choose the Multiply Blend mode, which darkens the effect of this adjustment layer. I'll put that back to Normal for now. By the way, these Blend modes are formulas that affect the way that the content of one layer is blended with the content of the layers below. So that's an overview of how adjustment layers work. They really are the most flexible way to correct the color or lighting of an image. They're nondestructive of the original photo, they can be reedited at any time, and every adjustment layer comes with its own layer mask, which you can use to limit the area that's affected by that adjustment as I'm going to show you in the very next movie.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for Photoshop Elements 9 Essential Training
Photoshop Elements 9 Essential Training

120 video lessons · 15380 viewers

Jan Kabili
Author

 
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 11m 0s
    1. Welcome
      1m 18s
    2. What is Photoshop Elements?
      3m 47s
    3. Touring the workspaces
      5m 55s
  2. 54m 16s
    1. Working with catalogs
      5m 22s
    2. Importing and using the exercise files
      5m 13s
    3. Importing files from your computer
      7m 31s
    4. Importing photos from your camera
      8m 57s
    5. Importing photos from iPhoto (Mac only)
      4m 44s
    6. Importing files from external drives/CDs/DVDs
      4m 44s
    7. Scanning photos
      6m 50s
    8. Dividing scanned photos
      5m 51s
    9. Importing from watch folders (Windows only)
      5m 4s
  3. 39m 10s
    1. Touring the Organizer
      6m 41s
    2. Viewing thumbnails
      6m 15s
    3. Rotating photos
      52s
    4. Renaming photos
      2m 55s
    5. Fixing photo dates
      2m 28s
    6. Hiding and deleting photos
      4m 6s
    7. Stacking photos
      4m 22s
    8. Moving files
      2m 43s
    9. Reconnecting missing files
      4m 53s
    10. Using Help
      3m 55s
  4. 54m 22s
    1. Rating photos
      3m 58s
    2. Applying and organizing keyword tags
      7m 4s
    3. Searching by keyword tags
      3m 35s
    4. Tagging with People Recognition
      11m 3s
    5. Using Smart Tags
      5m 57s
    6. Creating albums
      4m 41s
    7. Creating Smart Albums
      6m 28s
    8. Searching by text
      5m 28s
    9. Using the Find menu
      4m 19s
    10. Using the Timeline
      1m 49s
  5. 30m 14s
    1. Viewing slideshows in Full Screen view
      4m 21s
    2. Working with photos in Full Screen view
      9m 20s
    3. Comparing photos
      5m 56s
    4. Viewing by date
      3m 18s
    5. Mapping photos (Windows only)
      7m 19s
  6. 38m 36s
    1. Applying Photo Fix
      9m 0s
    2. The Quick Fix interface
      7m 9s
    3. The Quick Fix controls
      5m 22s
    4. Adjusting lighting in Quick Fix
      3m 46s
    5. Adjusting color in Quick Fix
      5m 39s
    6. Using the Touch Up tools in Quick Fix
      7m 40s
  7. 43m 43s
    1. Guided Edit basics
      8m 13s
    2. Making an Out of Bounds image
      10m 17s
    3. Perfecting a portrait
      7m 43s
    4. Adding realistic reflections
      5m 26s
    5. Applying a LOMO camera effect
      2m 0s
    6. Making pop art
      1m 31s
    7. Using Style Match
      8m 33s
  8. 1h 20m
    1. Full Edit workspace overview
      6m 51s
    2. Working with tabbed documents
      4m 51s
    3. Using tools
      7m 40s
    4. Arranging panels
      5m 18s
    5. Setting preferences
      3m 41s
    6. Using Undo History
      6m 39s
    7. Zooming and navigating
      7m 4s
    8. Creating a blank file
      5m 19s
    9. Photo resizing and resolution
      8m 9s
    10. Cropping and straightening photos
      7m 15s
    11. Recomposing photos
      8m 15s
    12. Enlarging the canvas
      3m 27s
    13. Saving and formats
      5m 46s
  9. 35m 4s
    1. Understanding layers
      7m 17s
    2. Working in the Layers panel
      5m 21s
    3. Using layer masks
      7m 43s
    4. Using layer masks to combine images
      6m 27s
    5. Building composites
      8m 16s
  10. 20m 58s
    1. Selection basics
      3m 22s
    2. Manual selection tools
      3m 19s
    3. Automatic selection tools
      7m 24s
    4. Refining selection edges
      3m 30s
    5. Saving selections
      3m 23s
  11. 1h 21m
    1. Color managing
      7m 14s
    2. Applying Shadow/Highlight adjustments
      2m 42s
    3. Using adjustment layers
      8m 24s
    4. Masking adjustment layers
      7m 38s
    5. Adding a Levels adjustment layer
      6m 8s
    6. Adding a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer
      5m 56s
    7. Adjusting with Color Curves
      4m 14s
    8. Removing a color cast
      3m 37s
    9. Reducing digital noise
      4m 7s
    10. Sharpening photos
      7m 32s
    11. Processing multiple files
      7m 59s
    12. Working with raw photos
      15m 57s
  12. 18m 34s
    1. Using the Smart Brush tools
      6m 16s
    2. Dodging and burning
      2m 29s
    3. Retouching blemishes
      4m 29s
    4. Content-aware healing
      2m 31s
    5. Removing content with the Clone Stamp tool
      2m 49s
  13. 25m 53s
    1. Applying filters
      5m 36s
    2. Adding effects
      2m 34s
    3. Using layer styles
      7m 23s
    4. Using shapes
      4m 46s
    5. Using the Cookie Cutter tool
      2m 19s
    6. Converting color to black and white
      3m 15s
  14. 11m 25s
    1. Creating text
      7m 1s
    2. Editing text
      4m 24s
  15. 1h 25m
    1. Creating a photo collage
      8m 38s
    2. Fine-tuning a photo collage
      8m 3s
    3. Creating greeting cards
      8m 34s
    4. Creating photo calendars
      9m 28s
    5. Creating CD/DVD jackets and labels
      7m 43s
    6. Creating a photo book
      7m 44s
    7. Fine-tuning a photo book
      7m 11s
    8. Creating a slideshow (Windows only)
      8m 0s
    9. Fine-tuning a slideshow (Windows only)
      3m 23s
    10. Creating a flip book (Windows only)
      2m 47s
    11. End to end: Making a scrapbook page
      8m 15s
    12. End to end: Completing a scrapbook page
      5m 24s
  16. 49m 27s
    1. Printing photos
      8m 38s
    2. Contact sheets and picture packages (Windows only)
      6m 40s
    3. Sharing photos by email
      6m 38s
    4. Sharing photos by Photo Mail (Windows only)
      5m 8s
    5. Sharing to Flickr and Facebook
      4m 43s
    6. Saving images for the web
      6m 48s
    7. Signing up for Photoshop.com
      2m 55s
    8. Sharing online albums at Photoshop.com
      5m 4s
    9. Backing up
      2m 53s
  17. 38s
    1. Goodbye
      38s

Start learning today

Get unlimited access to all courses for just $25/month.

Become a member
Sometimes @lynda teaches me how to use a program and sometimes Lynda.com changes my life forever. @JosefShutter
@lynda lynda.com is an absolute life saver when it comes to learning todays software. Definitely recommend it! #higherlearning @Michael_Caraway
@lynda The best thing online! Your database of courses is great! To the mark and very helpful. Thanks! @ru22more
Got to create something yesterday I never thought I could do. #thanks @lynda @Ngventurella
I really do love @lynda as a learning platform. Never stop learning and developing, it’s probably our greatest gift as a species! @soundslikedavid
@lynda just subscribed to lynda.com all I can say its brilliant join now trust me @ButchSamurai
@lynda is an awesome resource. The membership is priceless if you take advantage of it. @diabetic_techie
One of the best decision I made this year. Buy a 1yr subscription to @lynda @cybercaptive
guys lynda.com (@lynda) is the best. So far I’ve learned Java, principles of OO programming, and now learning about MS project @lucasmitchell
Signed back up to @lynda dot com. I’ve missed it!! Proper geeking out right now! #timetolearn #geek @JayGodbold
Share a link to this course

What are exercise files?

Exercise files are the same files the author uses in the course. Save time by downloading the author's files instead of setting up your own files, and learn by following along with the instructor.

Can I take this course without the exercise files?

Yes! If you decide you would like the exercise files later, you can upgrade to a premium account any time.

Become a member Download sample files See plans and pricing

Please wait... please wait ...
Upgrade to get access to exercise files.

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

Learn by watching, listening, and doing, Exercise files are the same files the author uses in the course, so you can download them and follow along Premium memberships include access to all exercise files in the library.


Exercise files

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

For additional information on downloading and using exercise files, watch our instructional video or read the instructions in the FAQ.

This course includes free exercise files, so you can practice while you watch the course. To access all the exercise files in our library, become a Premium Member.

Join now "Already a member? Log in

Are you sure you want to mark all the videos in this course as unwatched?

This will not affect your course history, your reports, or your certificates of completion for this course.


Mark all as unwatched Cancel

Congratulations

You have completed Photoshop Elements 9 Essential Training.

Return to your organization's learning portal to continue training, or close this page.


OK
Become a member to add this course to a playlist

Join today and get unlimited access to the entire library of video courses—and create as many playlists as you like.

Get started

Already a member?

Become a member to like this course.

Join today and get unlimited access to the entire library of video courses.

Get started

Already a member?

Exercise files

Learn by watching, listening, and doing! Exercise files are the same files the author uses in the course, so you can download them and follow along. Exercise files are available with all Premium memberships. Learn more

Get started

Already a Premium member?

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

Ask a question

Thanks for contacting us.
You’ll hear from our Customer Service team within 24 hours.

Please enter the text shown below:

The classic layout automatically defaults to the latest Flash Player.

To choose a different player, hold the cursor over your name at the top right of any lynda.com page and choose Site preferencesfrom the dropdown menu.

Continue to classic layout Stay on new layout
Exercise files

Access exercise files from a button right under the course name.

Mark videos as unwatched

Remove icons showing you already watched videos if you want to start over.

Control your viewing experience

Make the video wide, narrow, full-screen, or pop the player out of the page into its own window.

Interactive transcripts

Click on text in the transcript to jump to that spot in the video. As the video plays, the relevant spot in the transcript will be highlighted.

Are you sure you want to delete this note?

No

Your file was successfully uploaded.

Thanks for signing up.

We’ll send you a confirmation email shortly.


Sign up and receive emails about lynda.com and our online training library:

Here’s our privacy policy with more details about how we handle your information.

Keep up with news, tips, and latest courses with emails from lynda.com.

Sign up and receive emails about lynda.com and our online training library:

Here’s our privacy policy with more details about how we handle your information.

   
submit Lightbox submit clicked
Terms and conditions of use

We've updated our terms and conditions (now called terms of service).Go
Review and accept our updated terms of service.