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16. Adjustment Layers

From: Photoshop Top 40

Video: 16. Adjustment Layers

(Music playing) Deke's Photoshop? Deke's Photoshop? Top 40! Feature #16 is adjustment layers. One of Photoshop's oldest and best forms of nondestructive image editing. The idea is you can apply floating layers of color adjustment that you can modify any time you like, they affect all the layers below them and you can even assign things like opacity, Modifications, and blend modes as we'll see. Now we are going to see adjustment layers applied to this image right here. It comes to us from Aero Studio.

16. Adjustment Layers

(Music playing) Deke's Photoshop? Deke's Photoshop? Top 40! Feature #16 is adjustment layers. One of Photoshop's oldest and best forms of nondestructive image editing. The idea is you can apply floating layers of color adjustment that you can modify any time you like, they affect all the layers below them and you can even assign things like opacity, Modifications, and blend modes as we'll see. Now we are going to see adjustment layers applied to this image right here. It comes to us from Aero Studio.

I love the framing of this image. I think it's lit beautifully. The models look great, but the skin tones are quite undersaturated and we have a real problem with blue shadows inside this image, quite a common problem I should add inside a digital photograph. You will see blue shadows or violet shadows. Here is how to remedy the problem. Now notice that I've gone ahead and expressed his image as a Smart Object feature #18 as you may recall. That allowed me to apply a Smart Filter, which is High Pass, and High Pass especially when combined with Overlay or Linear Light as I have done here allows me to sharpen some of the detail inside the image.

Now what that means though by virtue of the fact that this is a Smart Object, the pixels are protected, so I can not apply a static color adjustment. I have to resort to adjustment layers. But I'm here to tell you even if you're working with a flat image, you're better off applying adjustment layers inside Photoshop. So here's how it works inside of Photoshop CS3 and earlier. You go down to this black white icon at the bottom the Layers palette, you click on it and you choose the desired color adjustment from the list. Then you'll see a dialog box. You work inside that dialog box. Inside of Photoshop CS4 you work inside the Adjustments palette.

Now there's been a fair amount of argument that the Adjustments palette makes adjustment layers easier to use. I quite disagree. I consider this to be an absolutely neutral innovation. I don't think it does anything positive or negative for us whatsoever. However, this is where we have to work inside of CS4. Now I am going to start things off by adding an adjustment layer that's new to Photoshop CS4. That's this guy right here Vibrance. So I will go ahead and click on Vibrance in order to add a Vibrance adjustment as were seeing here. Now Vibrance includes two controls, Vibrance and Saturation.

If I were to increase the Saturation value to +100 just to go way too far with it, you can see that I am making the image look entirely garish. So flesh tones are turning vivid orange and shadows are very, very bright blue at this point. We are increasing the saturation of all the colors across the board when we do this. I will go ahead and take the Saturation value down to let's say +10. As compared we are taking the Vibrance value all the way to its maximum of +100 and notice that the skin tones are becoming fairly orange, the shadows are becoming screamingly blue once again.

We will take care of them in a moment, but we are performing a much more naturalistic organic saturation adjustment in my opinion. That works very nicely for skin tones as you can see here. What's really happening is Photoshop is compressing the tint and temperature values in much the same way as you might inside of the Lab Color Mode for those of you who know a thing or two about what's going on inside Photoshop. If you don't, don't worry about it. I am going to take this Vibrance value down to +90 and this gives us more or less the saturation that I want inside of the skin tones, but we are bringing out those blue shadows something fierce, both inside the t-shirt and inside of her eyes.

Notice that the eyeliner and the highlight inside of her iris and so on and inside of the hair as well, you will see blues all over the place. So what I need to do is assign a layer mask. Well, I don't want to work with a layer mask that I already have. I don't really like working with default layer masks where adjustments layers are concerned. You're better off creating a new layer mask from whole cloth and I will show how that works. For starters go ahead and right-click on an existing layer mask and choose Delete Layer Mask in order to get rid of it. Then we can sit down and generate a very accurate layer mask using feature #23 under the Select menu the Color Range command and I just love this command as I've said for generating quick and dirty masks inside of Photoshop.

Now I am going to start things off by clicking in the blue of his t-shirt right there and then I'm going to Shift+Drag across that t-shirt, Shift+Drag over some of the blues inside of her t- shirt as well, over on this side here. Then I will Shift+Click carefully inside of her mascara and Shift+Click again and inside this highlight in her iris in order to establish the base blue colors that I want to eliminate. Then I'm going to increase the Fuzziness value to something like 75 let's say.

Go and take that to about there. Now at this point I've selected the blues and deselected the skin tones, I want to do exactly the opposite. I want to protect those blues and select the skin tones and I am going to do that by turning on the Invert checkbox. Now we've selected the skin tones as you can see and I will click OK in order to generate that selection outline. Now we need to convert the selection outline to a layer mask by dropping down to the Add a layer mask icon down here at the bottom of the Layers palette. Click on it and the deed is done and you can see now that the blues have been mitigated.

So this is what the image looked like when first opened it, this is what it looks like now with the enhanced skin tones and you can see that it's not an over-the-top effect at all. It's a little farther than I might go, if I were just doing this for myself, but since I'm doing it for demonstrational purposes I want you to really see what's going on. Now let's say the next thing I want to do is I want to increase the brightness of the midtones inside of this image and only the midtones. I will do that using yet another color range mask, but this time around I'm going to assign a dummy layer set to a blend mode.

So let me show you how that works. For starters, I'm going to go out to the Select menu and I am going choose the Color Range command, but if I do that in CS4 there's this weird effect. If you already have an adjustment layer selected and its layer mask is active as mine is and you choose Color Range, you're going to modify that layer mask. So what you need to do is switch away from your adjustment layer, switch to some layer that does not have a layer mask assigned to it, such as couple, then go up to Select and choose Color Range. That way you're not making any changes to any existing elements inside the image.

So I will choose the Color Range command. This time I'm going to click in her forehead in order to select a random midtown here. I am going to turn off the Invert checkbox, because I want to select the midtones, not deselect them and I am going to increase that Fuzziness value let's say to 100. Now something to bear in mind here, if I go ahead and change the Selection Preview from None to Grayscale and take a look at the selection that I am trying to create. This mask, you can see that it has some pretty harsh transitions here and there, even though I have a very high Fuzziness value which helps to smooth out those transitions, but still we are going to need some additional fuzzy going on and we'll see that in just a minute.

Anyway for now I am just going to click OK in order to create that selection outline. Then I am going to go over to Brightness/Contrast inside the Adjustments palette. Now back in Photoshop CS2 and earlier Brightness/Contrast was a horrible color adjustment. It clipped highlights and shadows like crazy. It's no longer built that way. It's much better now. It's actually good command, just an easy command to use. I tend to use it whenever I'm thinking of just creating a dummy layer which is a blank color adjustment layer that you going to apply a blend mode to, I tend to work with Brightness/Contrast, just kind of a no-brainer.

So I'll click on Brightness/Contrast to create it. I have gone ahead and created the Brightest/ Contrast layer below Vibrance. I don't want that. I want it at the top of the stack. So I will move it up like so. Now I haven't made any adjustment whatsoever so far, I haven't changed the Brightness or Contrast values. So if I turn the layer off and then turn it back on you will see there is no change so far. Instead what I am going to do, instead of making any change. I am going go to the blend mode menu and I am going to choose Screen. What that's going to do is it's going to use the image to brighten itself and we will get this effect right here. So we are brightening the heck out of those midtones.

Now I don't know want to go that far with the brightening. So I am going to take the Brightness value down here inside the Adjustment palette, I am going to it down to - 125 and then I am going to increase the Contrast value to its maximum of 100. Now what that means is we've just kind of made a mess of the image. If I go ahead and switch the blend mode back to Normal, check it out. This is what we're using to brighten the image at this point, but that's perfectly acceptable, because the net result after we apply Screen is this and it looks pretty darn great. So this is what the image looks like without that midtown boost and this is what it looks like with the midtown boost, which is pretty darn nice, I think.

Now as I was saying the transitions are too harsh. If I Alt+Click or Option+Click on this layer mask to switch to it, so we can see the layer mask independently of the rest the image, you will see that we do have some pretty harsh transitions going on. So what I would like to do is I would like a blur this mask and I am going to do that by once again Alt+Clicking or Option+Clicking on a layer mask thumbnail to switch back to the RGB composite view of the image. I will go to the Filter menu, I will choose Blur and I'll choose Gaussian Blur. I'm to increase this Radius value to 20, which is really over-the-top.

If I click on her eye in order to select it, you can see this is what the mask looks like before I blur it. This is what it looks like after I blur it. I will go ahead and turn off the Preview option for a moment. This is what the overall image looks like with a sharp mask, and if I turned Preview back on, this is what it looks like with a soft mask. And the nice thing here it's a subtle difference, but we get a nice soft boost on those midtones. So we have a little bit of luminance softening going on. I will click OK in order to accept that effect. Then finally what I want to do is I want to entirely eliminate the blues and the shadows.

I am still not happy. Even though I've managed not to increase the saturation of those blues what I'd really like is to make them entirely neutral. So I'm been a click on the couple layer once again to make it active. I am going to define yet another color range selection by going out to the Select menu and choosing the Color Range command. Are you getting a sense of why this was feature #23? This thing is insanely useful and then I'm going to go ahead and take that Fuzziness value down back to its the fault of 40. I am gong to switch the Selection Preview to None so that I can see the RGB image in the background.

I'm going to click inside this guy's t-shirt and then Shift+Drag around all the blues. In fact, you know what? I am going to Shift+Drag across both of their t-shirts like so, so that I am selecting all of the highlight, Shift+Drag around here. I am not going to worry about any of the stuff inside the face, because I don't want to affect it anymore than I have to. In fact, you can see that I am already selecting a little bit of his razor stubble. You can see that right there inside the mask inside of the dialog box and some of the blues inside of her face are being affected as well. We will see how that turns out.

I will click OK in order accept that selection outline. Now let's go ahead and define a new color adjustment. I will click on Vibrance, once again the selection automatically turns into a layer mask here inside the Layers palette and I am gong to take the Saturation value down to let's say -60. It works out pretty darn well here. You can see now the t-shirts are nice and neutral. Now I am may have taken some of the saturation out of her face and at of his stubble as well. Let's go ahead and see if that's the case. I am going to go ahead and collapse the Adjustments palette so that I have a little more room to work.

I am going to turn off Vibrance too here and sure enough I have lost a little bit of saturation, take a look at his jaw right there. This is without this color adjustment. This is with the color adjustment. So I have made his jaw a little grayer. So what I am going to do is just paint in some modifications using feature #31, The Brush tool right here. I will go ahead and click on it to select it. I do want a pretty big brush, but I wanted it to be a little harder than this. So I am going to take the Hardness value up to 50% and I will reduce the size my cursor a little bit and paint inside of his jaw.

So you can see this isn't making a terribly huge difference just, because this layer wasn't making a terribly huge difference where this image is concerned. I also go ahead and paint inside of her lips and across her eyes and so on just to make sure that I'm not harming anything where those colors are concerned. And I'll switch back to my Rectangle Marquee tool and this is it people. Let's go ahead and take a look at the work we've done. This is the image as it appeared when I first opened it at the outset of his video and this is what it looks like now. Thanks to the addition of three carefully created adjustment layers with three meticulously crafted layer masks here inside Photoshop.

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Photoshop Top 40

41 video lessons · 37786 viewers

Deke McClelland
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