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Introduction to adjustment layers

From: Photoshop CS6 Image Optimization Workshop

Video: Introduction to adjustment layers

One of the things I consider to be the most important when in comes to working on your images in Lightroom is to use a nondestructive workflow and for the most part what that means is using Adjustments layers. If you're applying adjustment directly to an image, then you are actually changing pixel values in that image. An adjustment layer simply contains instructions that tell Photoshop how you want to change the appearance of the image. The underlying pixels remain unchanged. And that gives you tremendous flexibility in terms of being able to go back and modify that adjustment with no penalty in terms of image quality and also being noncommittal.

Introduction to adjustment layers

One of the things I consider to be the most important when in comes to working on your images in Lightroom is to use a nondestructive workflow and for the most part what that means is using Adjustments layers. If you're applying adjustment directly to an image, then you are actually changing pixel values in that image. An adjustment layer simply contains instructions that tell Photoshop how you want to change the appearance of the image. The underlying pixels remain unchanged. And that gives you tremendous flexibility in terms of being able to go back and modify that adjustment with no penalty in terms of image quality and also being noncommittal.

Not making a firm decision about your adjustment. Always being able to go back and fine tune as you see fit. Let's take a look at some of the basics of working with adjustment layers. I have an image here, I'd like to apply some adjustments to the image, let's assume that I want to apply a simple Brightness and Contrast adjustment. There are a couple of methods that I'll typically use for adding an adjustment layer to an image. On the Adjustments panel, I can simply click the button associated with the adjustment that I would like to add. In this case, that would be the Brightness Contrast button, for example.

I can also go to the bottom of the layers panel and Click the Add Adjustment Layer button. That's the half black, half white circle button at the bottom of the layers panel. If you click that button, you'll see a list of all of the adjustments that can be added as an adjustment layer. Since I have the menu popped up, I'll go ahead and click that option and you can see that an adjustment layer has been added for my image. I'm able to apply in this case a Brightness and Contrast adjustment without actually altering those underlying pixel values. Those values are stored on my background image layer and I've added an adjustment layer that will simply contain instructions on how to change the appearance of that background image layer in a completely nondestructive way. On the Properties panel, I could adjust the settings for this adjustment. For example, maybe I'll brighten the image up a little bit, and perhaps enhance contrast just a little bit.

And of course I could add more than one adjustment. I have a Brightness Contrast adjustment here, if I want to also add perhaps a Vibrance adjustment. I can click the button for the Vibrance adjustment. That wide and additional adjustment layer, so now I have a Brightness Contrast adjustment as well a Vibrant adjustment and I can fine tune the settings for that Vibrant adjustments, for example boosting the colors a little bit. Obviously, there's not too much color in this image but may be I want to bring out some of those yellow to orange tones that were found within the photo.

So as you can see, by using adjustment layers, we've got a pretty good amount of flexibility in terms of applying our adjustments in a nondestructive way. And always being able to come to an adjustment later if we decide we want to change that particular adjustment. For example, if I click on my Brightness Contrast adjustment layer, you'll see that the Properties panel now reflects the Brightness Contrast adjustments with the sliders left exactly as I had them. So as you can see, using adjustment layers provides you with tremendous flexibility all while making sure that you're working in a nondesructive way in adjusting the appearance of your images. So I strongly encourage you to use Adjustment Layers for any adjustment for which an Adjustment Layer is actually an option.

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Photoshop CS6 Image Optimization Workshop

28 video lessons · 468 viewers

Tim Grey
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